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Marine Communications

VHF Radio Communications

How do you use your VHF Radio?VHF Radio
To use your VHF, turn it on and pick a channel, set the squelch to the point where
you don't hear any white noise, and begin talking. Things to remember when you
are on the radio:

  • Monitor channel 16 when you are not talking. While not required for
    recreational boaters, it is an unwritten rule for radio users.
  • Don't tie up channel 16 or channel 9. If you are talking with someone,
    switch to a working channel so you are not keeping others from using
    channel 16 or 9. In some instances, the Coast Guard may even order
    you to switch channels if you are abusing these channels.
  • A VHF radio is not a telephone. When you use your VHF, everyone tuned to that station in the area can hear you! Watch your language, and try to keep your conversations short and to the point so that others may use the channel.
Using a VHF radio is one of the easier things to do on a boat, but their are things you need to do to operate a VHF properly. Most VHF radios have some or all of the following:

  • Volume Knob
  • "Squelch" Knob - Adjusting the squelch is similar to tuning your radio--it will make the signal sound
    much more clear.
  • Channel Knob or Up/Down Buttons - This lets you change the channel you are using.
  • Channel Display Screen - This tells you what channel you are on, and also any other feature that you
    may be using.
  • Weather Button - This is a direct way to get to your local weather channels.
  • Scan Button - This will automatically change your radio channel to one that is currently being used by other boaters. You may also be able to "Priority scan" which will allow you to program specific channels that you frequently use.
  • 16/9 Button - Automatically takes you to either channel 16 or 9.
  • 1/25 or Hi/Lo Button - This allows you to raise or lower the power with which you broadcast your signal. For boats close to you, use low power. For boats farther away, use high.
  • INT/USA - Allows you to change channel type if you leave the United States for other countries such as Canada.
  • Transmit Button - This is usually on the mike. Simply push it down, and your radio will transmit a signal.