Author Topic: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette  (Read 5224 times)

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Offline Mr. SNUFFALUPAGUS

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Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« on: February 09, 2008, 09:07:27 PM »
OK, so while posting my intent to go on a tournament mission I was unclear about folks on maui talking to me on the VHF radio just in case They wanted to meet up with me on the water, this resulted in a rebuke from Jimmy stating not to use Channel 16 for common talk ( which is totally correct)  I was unclear about interested parties "hailing" me on channel 16 to make initial contact, which is acceptable proceedure.

first off, users of the VHF marine radio are encouraged to monitor channel 16 at all times.
channel 16 is an "emergency and contact channel"  monitored by the USCG and most responsable vessels.

it is NOT ok to use it as a "gab channel" 

it is ok to use it for:
making initial contact with a vessel (after contact is made, have the vessel "meet" you on an open channel to hold a conversation)
Sending a distress call
sending out general local saftey information or reporting locally observed hazards to navigation 
making contact with the USCG to report a maritime law violation.

when using channel 16,  THINK about what you need to say BEFORE hitting the push to talk button - and keep the spoken message short and to the point. remember the little 5 watt handheld VHF units we kayakers use have a limited range and can be stomped by most powerboat fixed mount 25 watt sets, BUT that dosn't mean that YOU may not stomp a weak distress signal thats trying to get out for assistance so keep the messages short and to the point.
also bear in mind if you hear a Mayday call (not a securite or pan call) you are obligated to respond if no one else does in a timely manner - there isn't much that a Kayaker like us can do to facilitate a rescue except relay a distress signal that may be to weak to be heard by someone else - but you have to respond and make a good faith effort to do something, anything to try and assist.
there are 3 levels of importance used in making a saftey call on the VHF radio these are:

securite (pronounced "securitay")  repeated 3 times before a message it indicates a hazard to navigation that local mariners need to be aware of (commonly stated by barge operators before entering a harbor, or mariners who obseve floating debris, hazardous local weather, tidal or current conditions, etc.) basically a securite call indicates a situation that could become hazardous if not monitored by a sharp lookout.

next is the pan call (pronounced "Pon")  repeated three times before a message indicates that a hazzardous situation is at hand, ie: a vessel trapped in a savage wind shear without power, a collision has occured or is unavoidable, or a USCG update pretaining to life and limb is being transmitted (maritime missing person reports are usually "pan" calls)  if your kayak is damaged and taking on water but hasn't started to sink, have lost you paddle and are adrift, or you've reveived a non imediately life threating injury and need assistance this is generally a "pan" call.

last and most serious is the mayday call, repeted 3 times before a message indicates that a serious situation endangering life and limb has already occured and assistance is needed imediately. it is required of all mariners to respond to a mayday call and assist to the best of there ability. examples of a situation requireing a mayday call would be: your kayak has sunk and you are adrift without a vessel, you have been severely injured, you have observed a major maritime accident/incident that requires medical, fire, or USCG law enforcement response imediately. 

the best way to learn the proper use of the VHF radio is to take a USCG boating saftey course - there you will learn about VHF proceedure, marlinspike seamanship (learning basic seaman's knots and rope work) maritime weather education, how to read a chart, navigation aid usage, etc. the couse takes about 2 weeks a couple of days a week and is available on evenings and weekends.  My dad put me though one when I was 13, and it's taught me an awful lot (I still refer to my text book which I still have from time to time )

Offline Rocket

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2008, 10:01:45 PM »
Thank you Jesse, this is very informative. I will study this procedure and advise everyone else to do the same. Knowledge is key!Roc

OahuDave

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2008, 05:19:00 AM »
Many thanks for the info Jesse. This brings up a question Jon and I were talking about yesterday. What channels are appropriate for gab? We were separated quite a bit and were thinking it would have been nice to all have radios so we could figure out where everyone was. I always keep 16 on, but would set it to scan 16 and whatever gab channel we chose. So what are valid channels we can use?

Offline s_wright121

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2008, 06:41:41 AM »
Jesse geat info THANKS
Aloha Steve

Offline wg

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2008, 07:51:41 AM »
here's a list of the vhf marine band channels.  http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/marcomms/vhf.htm  You should always pick a channel and do a comms check prior to setting out.  I have been in a group with three different radios and had trouble finding a channel that all three could communicate on. We were standing about 3 feet apart.  Seemed to me the lower the channel, the more compatible it was with the different radios. 

OahuDave

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2008, 08:07:56 AM »
Perfect thanks. This should make it easier on future runs. Like Jesse said above:

Procedure for Calling A Ship by Radio

You may use channel 16 to call a ship or shore station, but if you do so, you must, must be brief! We recommend this same procedure be used over channel 9, if channel 9 is used as a calling channel.
For example:

Blue Duck: "Mary Jane, this is Blue Duck" (the name of the vessel or MMSI being called may be said 2 or 3 times if conditions warrant)

Mary Jane: "Blue Duck, this is Mary Jane. Reply 68" (or some other proper working channel)

Blue Duck: "68" or "Roger"
« Last Edit: February 10, 2008, 08:10:50 AM by OahuDave »

Offline Mr. SNUFFALUPAGUS

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2008, 12:34:47 PM »
On maui we like channels 14 and 18 for general gab. BUT since they are public channels it most polite to use FRS (family radio system) radios for extended close range comunications between partners (I run alone, but if I had a regular parner I'd be using the little 2 watt motorolla FRS radios for talking to my partner and have the VHF aboard for "outside the group" comunication)
VHF radios are one party transmit type units - which means when you key the mike and your transmitter wattage is stong enough you will make it impossible for others within your sets range to transmit themseves until you release the mike button.

always key the mike and wait a half second before speaking , this allows the carrier wave to get estabilshed and will cause the receivers on that channel to receive the wave without clipping the first syllables of your voice message on the receiving end. 

some more useful information about radio useage:
police and military personel don't talk they way they do on the radio because it sounds cool - it's done to maximize understanding of radio messages
use the word "affirmative" to reply a positive because the common word "yes" on a radio can sound like "west" "mess" "less" etc. possibly causing confusion if misunderstood.
the word "negative" is used in radio comunication to indicate a "no" response because it too is difficult to mistake for another word,  the word NO can be confused with several different short words or fragments of words.
numbers are usually spoken in single numerals "sixteen" is spoken "one-six" on the radio, one hundred would be "one-zero-zero"  and so on and so fourth,  also the 0 is always spoken as "zero" never "oh"
for civilian comunications it is not neccicary to speak "9" a "niner" just say "nine"
letters are a little more complicated - and very difficult to understand on the radio -so radio users have a phonetic alphabet that is used - the problem is military, civilian aviation, and maritime useage phonetic alphabet is different than civilian police/fire/medic civilian alphabet
the police departments/fire/medics usually use common person names for phonetic alphabet , Adam, boy, charlie, David, etc.  this is better than using the regular letter,  but for VHF comunications it's best to use the NATO military Phonetic alphabet:
A = Alpha
B = Bravo
C= Charlie
D= Delta
E= Echo
F= Foxtrot
G= Golf
H= Hotel
I= Indigo
J= Juliet
K= Kilo
L= Lima
M= Mike
N= November
O= Oscar
P= Papa
Q= Qubec
R= Romeo
S= Sierra
T= Tango
U= Uniform
V= Victor
W= Whiskey
X= Xray
Y= Yankee
Z= Zulu

another thing to avoid on VHF radio is the use of "10" code commonly used by civilian police fire and medic. tencode differs from region to region and department to department. though some of the common tencode is common thought the nation, some is not (example 10-4 means "afirmative, will comply" across the country, but a 10-33 can mean several different things depending on where the department is located -in the departmernt I trained at, a 10-33 is an audible alarm) so don't use tencode on the VHF the coasties and military don't use tencode.

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2008, 10:51:36 AM »
Good to see you know your stuff jesse.  I didn't mean to bash on you, it's just that I have my VHF set to 16 on my boat, and I hear people talking common talk on it (not all the time, once in a while).  It makes me angry to hear people using the emergency channel to talk about a fish they caught, or the porpise are here or there, or other non-emergency issues.  Thanks for clearing this issue up for a lot of VHF users.
Blue Water Hunter

Offline Mr. SNUFFALUPAGUS

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2008, 01:45:33 PM »
no worries, I hear plenty of superflous crap on 16 from time to time - the worst is when some *ickhead doesn't maintain his radio, and the mic sticks on transmit and wipes out channel 16 for for several minutes or hours. 

that is a reminder to all - keep your VHF salt and corrosion free  by rinsing it off if it is a submersable model or wiping it down if it's a "splash resistant" model. compounds like bullfrog or corrosion x are said to be good for maintaining marine electronics too - I've never tried it, I just rinse my standard horizon 250 in fresh water from my sink.

OahuDave

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2008, 09:46:27 AM »
Hate to rehash all this, but I am still a little unsure what is appropriate for us to use for minimal gab while out. I see these in the vhf channel list:

24     157.200     161.800     Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)
25    157.250    161.850    Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)
26    157.300    161.900    Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)
27    157.350    161.950    Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)
28    157.400    162.000    Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)

Can I assume those are safe to use for quick "Jon, What did you catch?" and "Wanna turn back" or hopefully not "DID YOU SEE THAT HUGE TIGER!!!" chats? I really dont want to carry any of those FRS radios since I have enough in my PFD already, but we do want to be able to at least chat from time to time.

Thanks,
Dave

Offline Mr. SNUFFALUPAGUS

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2008, 04:13:33 PM »
I use 14 or 18 because everyone else on maui does.

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2008, 04:22:00 PM »
Dave,
  Any of the public channels are fine for you to talk on.  You can talk as much as you like.  These channels are public for those reasons.  I hear chat on the radio pretty much non stop while I am out on the water with my radio set to scan.  I hear the dolphin/whale site seeing tours all the time.  I hear the surround net boats talking about akule they just netted, I hear one captain talking to another about the porpise, whales, strike, fish on, any many other things.  Once you and you partner have found a good public channel to talk on, talk it up if you like. :D
Blue Water Hunter

OahuDave

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2008, 04:27:16 PM »
Ok cool. Been trying to read about it as much as I could, but nothing really told me what I could use so good to know. Gotta figure out the scan deal now so I can scan the gab channel and 16/9 whatever. Thanks again guys!

OahuDave

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2008, 09:23:22 AM »
Hey guys. Jon and I went out last week and we were gearing up on the beach so we cranked on our radios. Set them to 24, keyed the mics and nothing. Tried 82, tried a couple others. Nothing at all. Any ideas? I had mine set to 1watt so we wouldn't intrude on others if they were out further. Just not sure why we couldn't hear each other. Later on it would have come in handy as we were separated and I thought Jon was in towards shore so I paddled my SNUFFLEUPAGUS off to get in there only to find he was directly behind me trying to catch up to me. Ugh.

Thanks,
Dave

Offline AlohaDan

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #14 on: March 05, 2008, 01:13:00 PM »
Some possibilities:

1. Low battery. But your indicator would tell you that. You might hear someone, but you won't have enough transmission power.

2. Squelch suppression too high. Probably the most common. Set your channel on something that you will be working.

 First turn your volume way up. Next turn your squelch suppression down until you hear noise. Then up it so the noise just disappears.

3. Your stubby antennae connection has corroded out.


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OahuDave

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2008, 03:19:12 PM »
Checked all those. I always tune to 16 and hear stuff and also the weather broadcast. Same with Jon. I just don't get it. I would have thought at least one of the public channels would have worked for us.

Both full batteries. Squelch just over noise level. Volume way up. All that was fine. Hmm...

Offline Mr. SNUFFALUPAGUS

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2008, 04:15:26 PM »
one watt doesn't go very far,

Hmmmm have you tried using full power? (5 watts)  that one watt buisness is just plain silly
at a half mile it might not even break squelch.  5 watts won't stomp anyone or fry anyone's set close by. (considering most of the commercial vessels transmit at 25 watts)

one time I cooked a truckers CB at close range with a CB in my car... but then again but then again I was using a highly illeagal 7000 watt linear amplifier.

Offline bonkey

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #17 on: September 17, 2008, 05:06:46 PM »
i was just going to ask a question about all of this stuff, but no need to now.  thanks i love this site.

OahuDave

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #18 on: September 18, 2008, 02:35:36 PM »
Not sure if we finally posted that we were using duplex (receive and transmit on different frequencies) and nothing, but when we went to a simplex (68 and 69) it worked like a charm. I've talked to my wife on the beach when I was 3 miles out just fine, shhh, I dont think people on land are supposed to use VHF. If they ask she stood in the water when she was talking to me. :)

Offline yasudad

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Re: Marine radiotelephone (VHF radio) etiquette
« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2008, 03:48:02 PM »
Thanks JesseJ, that is some useful information.  Don't want to use my VHF improperly...

 

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