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How to Use a Marine Radio

Learn how to use a marine radio in this Howcast boating video with expert Toby Stull.


Hi, my name is Toby Stull and I'm captain with Out in the Water Sailing. We're an adventure sports sailing company, providing charters, sailing lessons, vessel training and consulting. Please visit our website at We're here today in Liberty Harbor to talk about boating. Despite the fact we all now pretty much have cell phones. The marine radio is a good piece of safety equipment and convenient and good to have around. Marine radios are VHF radios, which stands for very high frequency. There are basically two types, a hand held that you can take around with you and is often rechargeable and a fixed mounted VHF radio to the boat that has a large antenna somewhere mounted on this boat on top of the mast, it will transmit a farther distant. Marine radios are helpful in all kinds of ways. First of all the WX band on the marine radio allows you to get weather and marine forecast. The commercial shipping channel, which is channel 14, is really helpful in a crowded harbor like here in New York. We have commercial traffic all around, listening to channel 13 often tells you the direction and position of large shipping traffic around you. Channel 16 is the distress channel. If you ever have a problem, call the coast guard on channel 16. It's also good to monitor 16 to know if any potential problems around you. Not only that you can help out with but also just to know they're happening. When you're calling other boats and you can call any boats on a VHF radio, so as long as their radios turned on, call that boat on channel 9. That's the recreational calling channel, but don't talk there. Always make sure to switch off channel 9 to continue conversation to channels such as 68, 69, 72. Services like marinas, pump out boats, and harbor masters also are monitored on different channel and that will be posted on their dock or on their boat. So you can pretty much do a lot of things with a marine radio that you can't o with a cell phone on the boat. It's good to have aboard and have one turned on.

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