Radio check, 1, 2…

Hello? Is anybody there?

Do i need a VHF radio on my vessel ?

The answer technically is no.

The two frequencies used for marine radios are 27Mhs and VHF. They both have their pros and cons, and it really depends who you are, where you are and what you are doing as to which might suit you best.

Regardless of choice, in Australia it is required by law that both the skipper and crew know how to operate all marine radios on a vessel. This includes how to transmit safety and distress messages; understanding the safety and distress frequencies needed to operate in these situations effectively.

Radios are often the only way to communicate with other vessels or marine rescue, receive important weather updates or be informed of navigational warnings. It’s clear why marine radios are an essential piece of safety equipment.


VHF is the preferred radio for short range marine communications. VHF channel 16 is for emergencies or initial calls and should not be used for routine messages or chat.

Maritime Safety and volunteer marine rescue stations monitor VHF channel 16 & others along most of the coast 24 hours / 7 days and can respond to emergency calls.

All large vessels and an increasing number of smaller boats monitor VHF channel 16. Weather information is regularly broadcast on VHF channel 67.

Most areas have a local chat or common use frequency. Your local marine rescue station can advise on this.

VHF users must have a Marine Radio Operator’s VHF Certificate of Proficiency (MROVCP) or the Marine Radio Operators certificate of Proficiency (MROCP) that covers both medium and high-frequency radios.


Do you need a marine radio?
Example of Range of VHF Marine Radio based on Antenna Height and Curvature of the Earth


27MHz has a very limited range of around 10-15 nautical miles and is usually limited to “line of sight”.

Despite it’s decreased range compared to VHF, 27Mhz is useful for short range communication however you should check that a limited coast station is in your immediate vicinity before relying on it for your safety.

Most marine rescue groups monitor channel 27.88MHz, but larger vessels at sea do not listen to this radio. You do not need any qualifications or license to own, fit or use this type of radio.

A short training session from a Marine Rescue unit will teach you the basic protocols of using a marine radio and how to get the most value from one – especially in an emergency.


Do you need a marine radio?
Australian Emergency Radio Channels – 27Mhz and VHF


Prices start from $199.99 for a VHF radio and a small aerial is around $44.99. When buying an aerial, remember the taller your. aerial the greater your range.

Give your local sea search and rescue group a call and ask for details about how to get a ticket to use your Marine Radio correctly.

Copy that? Over and out..


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