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VHF Marine Radio Protocols
Nothing Comes Close to a Cobra
Emergency Messages and
Distress Procedure
Emergency Messages and Distress Procedure
The ability to summon assistance in an emergency is the primary reason
to have a VHF marine radio. The marine environment can be unforgiving,
and what may initially be a minor problem can rapidly develop into a
situation beyond your control.
The Coast Guard monitors Channel 16, responds to all distress calls,
and coordinates all search and rescue efforts. Depending on the availability
of other capable vessels or commercial assistance operators in your vicinity,
Coast Guard or Coast Guard Auxiliary craft may be dispatched.
In any event, communicate with the Coast Guard as soon as you experience difficulties
and before your situation becomes an emergency. Use the emergency message
procedures only after your situation has become grave or you are faced with a
sudden danger threatening life or property and requiring immediate help. Use
Channel 16 to communicate your emergency message. Make sure you transmit
on high power. If you are merely out of gas, do not send an emergency message.
Drop your anchor and call a friend or marina to bring the fuel you need or to give
you a tow.
If the other does not respond, wait two (2) minutes and repeat. You are permitted
to attempt contact three (3) times, two (2) minutes apart. If you still have not
made contact, wait 15 minutes before trying again.
After communications are completed, each vessel must sign off with its call
sign or vessel name and the word “out” and return to Channel 16.
For best sound quality at the station you are calling, hold the microphone on
the front of the radio at least 2 in. (51 mm) from your mouth and slightly off to
one (1) side. Speak in a normal tone of voice.
“Over and Out”
The most commonly misused procedure words are “over and out” within the
same transmission. “Over” means you expect a reply. “Out” means you are
finished and do not expect a reply.
VHF Marine Radio Protocols
Voice Calling
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