Stanley Yacht Services: Radio Check, Radio Check: Is This Thing On ... The Right Channel?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Radio Check, Radio Check: Is This Thing On ... The Right Channel?

On Saturday, we ran a sea trial on a 49' Grand Banks East Bay.  As is our custom aboard any vessel, before we cast off lines, we conducted a VHF radio check. And, as is also our custom, we tuned the radio to channel 27 and used Sea Tow's automated VHF radio check (or "ARC"). The replayed message was loud and clear; we were good to go.

No sooner had we switched back to channel 16, than another vessel operator called out on that hailing frequency, "Radio check, radio check." Capt. Ben simply responded, "Use channel 27 for radio checks, mate." The other skipper thanked him and we went about our business. However, we realized it might be time to remind folks:

Channel 16 is NOT For Routine Radio Checks

As any boater worth his salt knows, VHF channel 16 is the international distress frequency used to transmit urgent requests for assistance during maritime emergencies. The United States Coast Guard also uses it to broadcast important safety information. As such, it is important to keep channel 16 as clear of non-essential radio chatter as possible.1

Whenever we hear someone using channel 16 (or 9) to conduct radio checks, we respond by telling them to check out channel 27, directing them to the ARC in our area. If you are unfamiliar with ARC (it's only been around for about 4 years), you can read all about it below:

Automated VHF Radio Check | Sea Tow

We're thankful Sea Tow implemented ARC because it not only serves the important purpose of reducing unnecessary airwave pollution on the all important channel 16, ARC also allows us to hear our outgoing message, giving us a better understanding of the quality and strength of our radio signal.

So there you have it, mates. You've been reminded: All Hail ARC!

[By the way - the sea trial was a success although we may have some questions about the SeaStar electronic controls but that's a post for another day.]

For smooth sailing and zero stress ... call SYS!

1 While mariners are permitted to place initial, brief calls via channel 16, they are expected to switch to an alternate working channel to continue the conversation once contact with the other party has been established.
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