Tom’s Thumb Flicking Tips

1. It’s important to stand by on VHF 16, even if it’s driving you nuts. This is where you first hear distress calls, Maydays, and important Coast Guard announcements.

2. If you hear a Securite (pronounced “saycuritay”) broadcast announcement, shift to the appropriate channel and listen. It may be notice of a violent storm closing in, a bridge closing, a large or towed vessel with restricted maneuvering in process or other critical information. Coast Guard sectors broadcast Notices to Mariners which contain important navigation announcements in the morning and again in the evening, with new ones throughout the day.

3. If you hear “May Day May Day” or “Pan-Pan” (pronounced Pahn Pahn) listen carefully because it may mean life is in peril, perhaps near you.

4. “Silence, Silence” (Pronounced “Seelonce Seelonce) means that a critical rescue operation is under way and that all stations should refrain from talking on the channel because to do so may interfere with rescue communications. This could cost lives.

5. Learn what channels are legal for what purposes. The FCC rules aren’t there just to be a pain, but to try to enable as many clear frequencies as possible for people who need to communicate. The FCC does levy fines for misuse of the VHF and other radios.

6. This just scratches the surface of VHF rules. Read “Chapman’s,” your VHF manual and other appropriate reference materials to gain a more thorough knowledge.

Copyright 2004-2010 Tom Neale

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