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Rookie - VHF Channel what's the 'default' channel per say?

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Rookie - VHF Channel what's the 'default' channel per say?

Old 07-12-2014, 03:56 PM
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Default Rookie - VHF Channel what's the 'default' channel per say?

Hello all,

I know the different channels such as 16 for distress and I have heard of 68 and 69 being more boat to boat. But can someone just clarify what do you usually go out on your boat tuned into, Channel 16 to listen for other boats that may be in distress? I live in Massachusetts. Also let's say I want to communicate with someone on another recreational boat would that be 68 or 69 and stupid question but what is proper to make a hale type call? Any example will be helpful. I took a boating safety course but it was not clear come day 1 when I buy the new boat and go out what sort of the default channel to always have on etc.

Thanks all from the rookie.
Old 07-12-2014, 04:16 PM
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Courtesty of BoatUS
Radio etiquette

Using a VHF radio is as easy as announcing yourself on an apartment intercom. Turn the power on, set the channel to 16, and listen for a few seconds. If Channel 16 isn't in use, key the microphone--meaning squeeze the transmit button on its side--and say the name of the boat you are calling twice, followed by the name of your boat, and then "over." Release the mike button. A typical call transmission would sound like this:

"Cowboy, Cowboy. Tambourine, over." You can say "this is Tambourine," but keeping calls as cryptic as possible is desirable. Since VHF licensing was eliminated (except for vessels traveling into foreign waters), you no longer need to announce your radio call sign. Cowboy will respond "Tambourine, (this is) Cowboy." If Cowboy doesn't respond, wait two minutes and try again. You are permitted three tries two minutes apart, but common sense should tell you that if Cowboy has failed to respond twice, the third transmission is just airwave pollution. Wait at least 15 minutes before you make another attempt. Few things will give your on-the-water neighbors a worse opinion of you than listening to you call over and over and over. They're not there, already; give it a rest.

When Cowboy does respond, key your mike and say "Six eight?" Channel 16 is reserved exclusively for calling and distress. Once contact is established, you must switch immediately to a working channel. The five channels designated for non- commercial ship-to-ship communications are 68, 69, 71, 72, and 78A. Channel 9 used to be in this group, but has been redesignated as an alternate calling (but not distress) channel. Cowboy confirms your channel selection by repeating it. By either rotating a knob or pushing a button, you select channel 68 on your radio, key the mike, and say "Cowboy. Tambourine." When Cowboy responds, you have your conversation, ending each transmission with "over" so Cowboy will know when you are finished and it is time to respond. When your conversation is complete, your last transmission should be "Tambourine, out." Cowboy will likewise say "Cowboy, out." "Out" lets anyone waiting to use the channel know you are finished with it.

Sometimes when you switch to a working channel, you find it occupied. In that case, check the other four to find an empty one, then go back to 16 and say, "Cowboy. Tambourine. Seven one." If you and Cowboy speak regularly, saying just "seven one" may be adequate. Either way, Cowboy will respond "seven one." You both switch to Channel 71 and have your conversation.
More here...

Old 07-12-2014, 07:42 PM
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Also, although quite often ignored by the clueless or arrogant, I believe anyone with an operable VHF aboard is required to monitor ch 16 unless actively communicating on another channel. Scanning radios allow you to fulfill that requirement while monitoring traffic on other channels if desired. In most areas, unless you are expecting a hail on another channel or possible just eavesdropping on fisherman using a different correspondence channel, monitoring just 16 the universal hailing and distress channel, 13 the security channel and 22A the USCG most common working channel, would be plenty.

Check the SeaTow website for the local automatic-response "radio-check" channel . Don't use 16 if you feel the need to radio-check.


Old 07-14-2014, 07:51 PM
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thanks all great info. appreciate your time. I was figuring 16 for distress would make the most sense.

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