Government AffairsFrequently Asked QuestionsGeneral Radio Operating Rules

Frequently Asked Questions

General Radio Operating Rules

The Dos:

  • Whenever the radio is on, monitor Channel 16, unless you are communicating on another channel;
  • Before transmitting, listen for 30 seconds to hear if the channel is being used;
  • At the beginning and end of your series of transmissions, identify your vessel by its name or your radio call sign if you have one;
  • Use Channel 16 or 9 for hailing and when contact is made, switch immediately to an unused working channel.
  • Set the radio to the low power setting whenever possible; you don't need the high power setting to talk to someone across your creek and it will free up the frequency for others.
  • Speak slowly and clearly with the microphone about an inch from your mouth; there's no need to shout as it distorts your transmission.
  • Keep all communications as brief as possible.

The Don'ts:

  • Don't use profanities or use the radio for insults. It is a criminal offense to transmit obscene, profane or indecent words, language or meanings.
  • Don't monopolize any channel with long conversations or idle chatter.
  • Don't call the Coast Guard requesting a radio check.
  • Don't let children use the radio or think it's a toy. Don't allow children to play on the boat with no adult present, even in the driveway.
  • Don't broadcast a "mayday" unless there is immediate danger to life or property.
  • Don't use the VHF radio for transmitting on land.
  • Don't attempt a voice broadcast on Channel 70 as it's reserved for Digital Selective Calling (DSC) only.


Channels Available for Recreational Boats:

16Distress, Safety, Calling
68-69, 71-72, 78Recreational Use
24-28, 84-87Marine Operator
13Locks, Canals, Bridges, Pilots*
70Digital Selective Calling Only (DSC)
*Usage of 13 may vary in different areas.

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