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Radio Communications

Whether you confine your boating to enclosed waters or whether you venture out into open sea, the ability to communicate with others, both on the water and on land, is vital to your boating safety.

Modern mariners have available a range of radio communication devices that help to keep them in touch with other boats, with friends and relatives ashore, and with the authorities controlling search and rescue networks.

Radios for marine use are basically of two types. They are either short range line of sight radios, or long range skip wave radios, depending on the frequency bands in which they are designed to operate.

Line of sight radios use frequencies in the upper end of the HF band and above, while long range radios generally are confined to frequencies in the MF and lower HF bands.

Long range marine radios are therefore known and classified as "MF-HF/SSB" radios. The SSB stands for Single Side Band and refers to the way in which these long range radio waves are generated. When reffering to long range radios it is usual to call them simply SSB radios.

Short range marine radios are of two types, named from the frequencies they are designed to use. One is known as 27 MHz radio because it is confined to frequencies within the 27 megahertz section of the HF band. The other type is known as VHF radio because it is designed to use the VHF frequency band exclusively.

The right choice of radio for your purposes can be reduced to three main factors:

  • area and duration of boating activity.
  • desired features of the radio.
  • cost

Radio Operating Procedures

There are some cardinal rules that all operators of marine radio should observe whenever the radio is used:

  • Make sure you have the right frequency for the call.
  • Listen before calling, to be sure the frequency is clear.
  • Check the time to make sure your transmission is not intruding into the statutory silence periods.
  • Always state your boats name and call sign when first calling.
  • Avoid unnecessary transmission - chatter on the airways is unwelcome and distrupts radio traffic.
  • Avoid bad language - it is offensive and illegal.

Marine radio is a vital safety link for people venturing out on the water. Choose your radio equipment wisely for your purposes, look after it well, learn how to use it properly, and it will become an integral part of your boating strategy.



    Related links
  • Australian Communications Auth.
  • Australian Search & Rescue
  • Canada - Radio and Television Commission
  • European Telecommunications Office
  • Japan - Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications
  • Marine Communication Phrases
  • Marine Radio Network
  • UK - Office of Telecommunications
  • UK - Radiocommunications Agency
  • USA - Federal Communications Comm. (FCC)
  • USA - National Telec. & Inf. Admin. (NTIA)
  • US Coast Guard Maritime Telecom. Inf.


  • e-mail / www by radio
  • ACR Electronics
  • Atol Web
  • Email on boats
  • K4CJX WinLink 2000
  • Sail Mail
  • Sea Mail
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