“Always Buying, Consigning and Selling Queensland’s Best Used Boats Since 1964”

John Crawford Marine agrees with the authorities that marine radios are essential safety equipment for communicating with other boats, marine rescue groups and to receive navigational warnings and weather updates.

There are three types of marine radios:

27MHz (referred to as 27 meg) has a very limited range and, although better than no radio, you should check that a limited coast station is in your immediate vicinity before relying on this equipment for your safety. Most marine rescue groups monitor Channel 88 but larger vessels at sea do not listen to this radio.

A common example of a 27MHz radio
A common example of a 27MHz radio

VHF is the preferred radio for short range communications. Maritime Safety Queensland and volunteer rescue stations monitor VHF Channel 16 along the majority of the Queensland coast on a 24 hour/7 day basis and are able to act in case of emergency. All large vessels and an increasing number of smaller boats monitor Channel 16. Weather information is regularly broadcast on Channel 67. Channel 16 is for emergencies or initial calls and should not be used for routine messages or chat. Most areas throughout Queensland have a local chat frequency or a common use rebroadcast frequency. The local marine rescue station can advise on this practice.

A common example of a VHF radio
A common example of a VHF radio

HF radios have a greater communication range if travelling long distances from shore although they are reliant on atmospheric conditions and to some extent on hull material. They can be difficult to operate without training and practice. Queensland HF services cover coastal waters to a minimum of 200 nautical miles seaward from sites located at Cairns (call sign: coast radio Cairns) and Gladstone (call sign: coast radio Gladstone). Weather broadcasts are made on frequency 8176 kHz. Navigational warnings are also broadcast on this frequency at the scheduled times. To increase communication efficiency, all HF equipment should be connected directly to the battery. Avoid patch panels and switch boxes if possible, as this will add to unwanted resistance and reduce performance. A good ground plate increases the efficiency of most communications equipment. Grounding straps between antenna tuners and ground plate should be made of copper pipe or copper sheet, approximately 50mm wide. The battery terminals and other connections on all radio equipment should be checked regularly and cleaned.

Licences and Certificates

All crew should be competent in the operation of the marine radios onboard, know the frequencies dedicated to distress and safety and be able to properly format and transmit distress and safety messages. Under federal regulations, operators of VHF and HF radios are required to hold an operating certificate; the normal certificate for recreational operators is the Marine Radio Operators Certificate of Proficiency (MROCP). Many Coast Guard and Volunteer Marine Rescue stations provide this course or may advise where a local course is available. Check our links pages for Coastguard and Volunteer Marine Rescue Organistaions. Operators of 27 MHz equipment are not required to hold a certificate but are strongly recommended to obtain one. Information about licensing of radios and operators, can be found at the Australian Communications and Media Authority website at http://www.acma.gov.au/*.

Operating Procedures
Standard radio procedures are used by boats of all nationalities.

Standard Calls
When making a standard call to another boat or volunteer group state clearly:
the boat/group you are calling — spoken three times
this is — name of your boat — spoken three times
await response.

Distress Calls
The distress call 'mayday' may be used only if the boat is threatened by grave and imminent danger and immediate assistance is required. This distress call has absolute priority over all other transmissions and may only be transmitted on the authority of the skipper or the person responsible for the safety of your boat.

Distress Call procedure:
mayday mayday mayday
this is — name and radio call sign of boat in distress — spoken three times
name and radio call sign of boat
details of boat's position
nature of distress and assistance required
other information including number of people on board.

Urgency calls
The urgency call should be used when you cannot justify use of the distress call but have a very urgent message to transmit concerning the safety of your boat or the safety of a person. Once again, you may only make an urgency call on the authority of the skipper or person responsible for the safety of your boat.

Urgency Call procedure:
pan pan pan pan pan pan
hello all stations hello all stations hello all stations
this is — name and radio call sign of boat — spoken three times
details of the boat's position
details of assistance required and other information.

Safety Calls
The safety call should be used if you wish to broadcast an important navigational warning to other stations. For example, you have sighted a large floating object that could damage the hull of a boat.
A safety call is more likely to be made by a coast station or a limited coast station operated by a marine rescue association and may include important weather warnings such as severe thunderstorm, gale and cyclone warnings.

Safety Call procedure:
say-cure-e-tay say-cure-e-tay say-cure-e-tay
hello all stations hello all stations hello all stations
this is — name and radio call sign of boat or shore station — spoken three times
details of the warning.
You may make the initial safety call to all stations on a distress frequency. However, you should change to a working frequency to make the broadcast of the safety message.

Distress Radio Frequencies
MF/HF transceivers:
Distress and calling 4125, 6215, 8291 KHz.
Navigational warning 8176KHz.
VHF transceivers:
Channel 16 with channel 67 as a supplementary.
27MHz transceivers:
27.88MHz (channel 88) with 27.86MHz as a supplementary.

Phonetic Alphabet
This is the universal way to break up a series of letters with words beginning with the character It helps operators and receivers know exactly what letter your discussing. This system is used by the aviation and marine industry to overcome difficulty in understanding letters pronounced via radio due to static interference, peoples voice accents etc.

A - Alpha
B - Bravo
C - Charlie
D - Delta
E - Echo
F - Foxtrot
G - Golf
H - Hotel
I - India
J - Juliet
K - Kilo
L - Lima
M - Mike
N - November
O - Oscar
P - Papa
Q - Quebec
R - Romeo
S - Sierra
T - Tango
U - Uniform
V - Victor
W - Whisky
X - X-Ray
Y - Yankee
Z - Zulu

I hope this helps give you an overview of the importance of marine radios and that they are not that hard to operate. Radios are a worthy investment on your families safety when at sea. For a quote to supply and install a radio don’t hesitate to call John Crawford Marine and have our workshop install one for you. We proudly supply radios and aerials supplied by GME Standard Communications.


Sales team at John Crawford Marine


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