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Seven important actions your Marine Radio performs, but do you need really need one?

Pleasure boats are not required to have a vhf radio, but if they do have a radio, it is supposed to be turned on and monitoring channel 16

If you have a radio you can:    

  1. Call the harbormaster from the breakwater and proceed straight to your slip.
  2. Call the Coast Guard when your sinking.
  3. Call other boats and arrange drinks at sundown.
  4. Listen to others and be entertained for hours, days, even weeks on end.
  5. Get weather forecasts in several languages for areas you've never heard of.
  6.  Tell your mate not to worry, help will always be just a radio call away.   
  7. Call vessel assist and have them bring you some very expensive fuel.

Seriously, in my humble opinion, I think a radio is a good idea. It is cheap insurance that help is on the way. It is your lifeline from a distant shore when you really need help.  If you  want to save boat dollars, buy a handheld model for about a hundred dollars. They will do just fine, plus have the added benefit of fitting in your pocket for off boat excursions. (I would pay a little extra and get one that scans) We have our children take the hand held radio so they can stay in touch when they are off exploring in the dinghy.

Radio etiquette:
A license is not required but the FCC has some rules you should familiarize yourself with.
Some people are sticklers and follow all the rules, others just get the job done. For the most part, make sure you are transmitting on low power (1 watt) for most situations;  if you use high power (25 watt) you will talk over, drown out and annoy boaters in the next county.  Start your call on channel 16 (everyone, including the Coast Guard monitors 16), unless you have a prearranged channel like 66 used for some marinas. First listen to make sure no one is talking, then depress the button and say the name you are  calling three times ie. “Bad Boy, Bad Boy, Bad Boy. This is Good Girl” now let go of the button and wait for Bad Boy to answer. They will answer by saying “this is Bad Boy” and you respond by saying lets go to channel 68 or 69, 71 or 72, the channels used for boating chit chat. That’s it, once you hook up, talk all you want, but remember you're supposed to be talking boating operation topics, and all the rest of us are listening.  So just remember, channel 16 is for hailing not for talking. Oh, and don’t yell into the microphone, it will come out distorted.  Some people will say “over” at appropriate times but usually you can tell when its your turn to talk. .  You should avoid swearing (FCC rule), and only chickens will make anonymous comments on 16 about others, unless of course someones wake swamps your boat or spills your wine; then the proper way to announce to the world that a boater is being inconsiderate is to say their boat name three times nice and clear so everyone can hear, followed by your snarky message, over.

BTW, I think it would be a really good idea, if you haven't named your boat yet, to consider what a prospective name will sound like broadcast across the water. Unless of course you want to entertain the rest of us.

Just my opinion. 

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