| Common Radio Frequencies Used in the Delta | Phonetic Alphabet |
| VHF Radio or Cellular Phone? |
The operator by law, must be familiar with and adhere to the provisions of the Federal Communications Commission. Although possession of the Rules and Regulations is not required, they may be obtained from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.
Safety is the primary function of a radiotelephone aboard a boat.
At a minimum, you should:
Logs: It is no longer necessary to keep a log of station operations. The operator may, however, keep a record of any distress or emergency traffic he hears or participates in along with a record of maintenance performed on the equipment.
- MAINTAIN A WATCH while the radio is turned on, even though you are not communicating. Monitoring the Calling and Distress Channel 16 (2182 kHz SSB) is compulsory when the set is on and you are not communicating on another channel.
- CHOOSE THE CORRECT CHANNEL when communicating either ship-to-ship or ship-to-shore.
- LIMIT THE PRELIMINARY CALL to 30 seconds. If there is no answer, you must wait 2 minutes before repeating the call.
- LIMIT SHIP-TO-SHIP CONVERSATIONS TO THREE MINUTES and the content to ship's business. Be considerate of others, they may want to use the line.
- REMEMBER THAT PUBLIC CORRESPONDENCE HAS NO TIME LIMIT (private telephone calls) -The caller is paying the toll.
- NEVER USE PROFANE OR OBSCENE LANGUAGE or transmit fraudulent messages. Penalties include fines up to $10,000 or imprisonment or both.
- AVOID RADIO CHECKS as most are unnecessary. Do not call the US Coast Guard. If a check is really necessary, call a vessel that you know is listening. Radio checks are prohibited on Channel 16.
Calling Procedure: The calling procedure has been developed in the interest of brevity. Calls are initiated on the Calling and Distress Frequency (Channel 16). If there is no traffic, begin by calling the name of the boat three times, followed by your boat name and its call sign.
Distress and Safety Calls
In an emergency as part of the marine safety and communication system, you have help on Channel 16 at your fingertips wherever you may be. Emergency situations can be categorized as distress, urgency and safety. The signals for these calls and their descriptions follow:
Distress: "MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY." This is the International Distress Signal and is an imperative call for assistance. It is used only when a life or vessel is in immediate danger.
Urgency: "PAN-PAN, PAN-PAN, PAN-PAN" (PAHN PAHN). This in the International Urgency Signal and is used when a vessel or person is in some jeopardy of a degree less than would be indicated by Mayday.
Safety: "SECURITY, SECURITY, SECURITY" (SAY-CURE-IT-TAY). This is the International Safety Signal and is a message about some aspect of navigational safety or a weather warning.
Most boaters never have the need to make a distress call but all should be familiar with the proper procedure. WHEN YOU NEED IT THERE WILL NOT BE TIME TO LEARN IT. A "MAYDAY" situation is usually a hectic one, so having a Distress Communication Form partially completed and readily available is a great aid in making an organized distress call. The blanks on the form can be completed in compliance with your vessel data and posted near the radio telephone.
For Urgency (Pan pan) calls, a format similar to the "Mayday" signal can be used. Safety (Security) messages inform other boaters of abnormal situations relative to safe operation and are the lowest priority of the emergency situations.
Distress calls are initiated on Channel 16 because they should be heard by many boats, as well as the Coast Guard and other shore stations within range. If you receive a distress call, cease all transmission. All vessels having knowledge of distress traffic, and which cannot themselves assist, are forbidden to transmit on the frequency of the distress traffic. They should, however, listen and follow the situation until it is evident that assistance is being provided. Transmitting may resume after hearing an "all clear" (Silence Fini).
"Over and Out"
The most commonly misused procedure words are "Over and Out." "Over" means that you expect a reply. "Out" means you are finished and do not expect a reply. It is contradictory to say "Over and Out."
VHF marine radio is a vital communications link for the boating community and abuse of the radio seriously affects the safety of all boaters. There are FCC monitoring stations which, along with the Coast Guard, are alert for understandable language and correct operation of marine stations. Sophisticated equipment provides for tracking violators through "voice prints" of transmissions made on the radio.
Willful or repeat violators may receive a "Notice of Violation" citations, and be fined up to $2,000. The following will improve your radio communications:
Priority list of VHF-FM Channels for Recreational Boats
- Marine Radio is not Citizens Band (CB), so watch your talk afloat. Phrases such as "Hey Good Buddy," "Bring That Back," "I Copy," and "That's a Big 10-4," are not only frowned upon by the authorities, but are illegal.
- Always use FCC call signals at the beginning and the end of all transmissions.
- Maintain radio watch on Channel 16, and use it only for emergency and calling purposes.
- Switch to one of the working channels for messages. Typically, these are 68, 69, 71, 72 and 78.
- Use low power (1 watt) whenever possible.
Channel Xmit Freq.
Communication Purpose 06 156.300 156.300 Intership safety communications (Mandatory). 09 156.450 156.450 Commercial and non-commercial intership and coast-to-coast (commercial docks, marinas and some clubs); also used by recrational boaters as alternate calling channel. This is also used at some locks and bridges. 12 156.600 156.600 Port Operation, traffic advisory, still being used as channel to work USCG shorestations. 13 156.650 156.650 Navigational, ship's bridge to ship's bridge (1 watt only) Mandatory for ocean vessels, dredges in channels, and large tugs while towing. This is also the primary channel used at locks and bridges. 14 156.700 156.700 Port Operations channel for communications with bridge and lock tenders. Some CG shorestations have this as a working channel. 16 156.800 156.800 DISTRESS SAFETY AND CALLING (Mandatory). 22A 157.100 157.100 Primary liaison with USCG vessels and USCG shore stations, and for CG information broadcasts. 24 157.250 161.850 Public telephone (Marine Operator); also Channels 25, 27, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88. 26 157.300 161.900 Public telephone, first priority. 28 157.400 162.000 Public telephone, first priority. 65A 156.275 156.275 Port Operations itership and ship-to-coast); also Channels 20A*, 66A, 73, 74, 77* 67 156.375 156.375 Commercial intership all areas, plus non-commercial intership (Puget Sound and Strait of Juan de Fuca). In the Lower Mississippi River, use limited to navigation bridge-to-bridge navigation purposes (1 watt). 68 156.425 156.425 Non-commercial intership and ship-to-ship coast (marinas, yacht clubs, etc.). 69 156.475 156.475 Non-commercial intership and ship-to-coast. 70 156.525 156.525 Distress and Safety Calling and general purpose calling using Digital Selective Calling (DSC) ONLY. 71 156.575 156.575 Non-commercial intership and ship-to-coast. 72 156.625 156.625 Non-commercial intership (2nd priority). 78A 156.925 156.925 Non-commercial intership and ship-to-coast. 79A 156.975 156.975 Commercial intership and ship-to-coast.
Non-commercial intership and ship-to-coast.
80A 157.025 157.025 Commercial intership and ship-to-coast.
Non-commercial intership on Great Lakes only.
WX-1 162.550 Weather Broadcasts. WX-2 162.400 Weather Broadcasts. WX-3 162.475 Weather Broadcasts.
Summary of Emergency Procedures
- Select Channel 16.
- Repeat MAYDAY three times.
- Give vessel name and call sign.
- Give position.
- Describe emergency.
- If no answer, repeat and then try another channel.
Common Radio Frequencies Used in the Delta
U.S. Coast Guard 22, 06 Other boats 09, 68, 69, 71, 72, 78 San Francisco Operator 26, 84, 87 Stockton Marine Operator 27, 28, 86 Delta Draw Bridge 09 Big Freighters and Tugs 13
Alpha Echo India Mike Quebec Uniform Yankee Bravo Foxtrot Juliette November Romeo Victor Zulu Charlie Golf Kilo Oscar Sierra Whiskey Delta Hotel Lima Papa Tango X-Ray