Tune into boating weather using VHF radio
15 November 2013
A recent study by NSW Roads and Maritime found that 25% of boating incidents are caused by weather and wave factors. So it's a surprising statistic that 1 in 5 boaters don't follow the Bureau's 5 vital weather checks before they go out on the water.
And once you're out there, you still need to keep an eye on the weather conditions.
Monitor the weather on Channel 16 VHF
An important duty for any skipper or captain is monitoring the weather while you're out on the water to ensure the safety of your passengers. An important monitoring tool is your VHF radio.
Tune into Channel 16 and listen for upcoming weather updates. Pay particular attention to any warnings or changes to wind or weather conditions you weren't expecting.
If you have switched channels, remember to go back to Channel 16 and keep listening in case someone needs help.
If you get into trouble and need assistance, the ACMA recommends that you follow these steps on your VHF radio.
Using VHF Marine Radio for weather information. Video credit: ACMA & BoM
Make a distress call if you are in grave and imminent danger
- If you have DSC, first use that and then make the call.
- Otherwise just make the call on Channel 16.
MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY
Then identify the vessel calling “This is SCAMP, SCAMP, SCAMP”
- Then send the message which consists of:
- The distress signal MAYDAY
- The name and any other identity of the vessel in distress
- Particulars of the vessel position
- The nature of the distress and kind of assistance required
- Any other information which may facilitate rescue;
- followed by the word OVER
Respond to another boat's call for help
If you hear a call for help and you are in an area that has reliable communications with a limited coast station, wait for a short while to allow the coast station to acknowledge the call.
If a coast station doesn't respond, and you're sure the vessel in distress is in your vicinity, then you should acknowledge the call.
If it's not in your vicinity, acknowledge the call and take steps to attract the attention of a limited coast radio station for vessels which may be able to assist.
- Marine VHF Radio Operator’s Handbook
- Short video from the ACMA on how to use VHF Marine Radio
- Video from the Bureau and ACMA on using VHF Marine Radio for weather information
- Subscribe to the ACMA’s marine radio e-bulletin to stay up to date with marine radio matters