VHF Radio

Sailing lexicon: VHF Radio
The most important topics and terms around the ship!

VHF-Radio – how to use a VHF radio, how big the range is and how to establish a radio connection with ships and shore stations:

The bigger the antenna, the bigger the range. Two yachts with a 9m antenna could reach each other up to 15 sea miles quite good. Shore stations have higher masts and therefore a range up to 60 sea miles. Sometimes the range is bigger, but you may not count on it. The bigger the antenna.


No radio without license. Whoever wants to use a VHF unit has to pass an exam (there are also lessons on weekends). Buy only licensed units and let it only be built in by a professional.

Ship-to-ship traffic

  • Handling of audible communication between two ships
  • Free of charge
  • Call on channel 16
  • Handling on other channels, pleasure vessels preferably 69 or 72, in the Netherlands only 67 is
  • allowed (“Marifonie”)

Example: the yacht „Wind“calls channel 16:

“Eagle, eagle, eagle, this is wind, wind wind, over”

Eagle answers: “Wind, this is eagle, please on channel 69, over.”

Thereupon both switch and talk on channel 69.

16 Emergency and call channel 10 and 77 ship-ship-channel for fishermen
06 International ship-ship-channel 67 and 73 ship-ship-channel for diggers
08 Vessels 69 and 72 ship-ship-channel for yachts
09 Coast guard
13 Authority vehicles


  • Conversations betweens ships and shore stations, also free of charge (there is only a charge on telephone calls to shore participants)

Radio conversation – Everybody who has a radio on board can speak to persons on shore anytime, provided there is a radio station nearby.

This is the procedure:

  • Find out the next coast radio station (range max. 30 sea miles, find out working channel)
  • Bear your own call sign in mind
  • Take the handset and call. If the coast radio station does not answer immediately, the radio operators are overloaded. Wait and try again after a while.

How to announce a radio conversation:

„Elbe Weser Radio, Elbe Weser Radio, Elbe Weser Radio, this is Tiger”
“Tiger, Tiger, Tango, Charlie one-three-three-seven, a telephone call to Germany please, over”
“Tiger, this is Elbe Weser Radio, please go to channel eight, over”
“Elbe Weser Radio, this is Tiger, the number is Hamburg one-nine-eight-four, over”
“Tiger, this is Elbe Weser Radio, your accounting authority please”
“Elbe Weser Radio, this is Tiger my account authority is Tango-Bravo-zero-nine, over”
“Tiger, this is Elbe Weser Radio, wait a moment please” (now comes the telephone call, after that it proceeds: )
“Tiger, this is Elbe Weser Radio, this was seven minutes and twenty seconds, anything else for you? “
“Elbe Weser Radio, this is Tiger, that was all, thank you good-bye, out.

The last word “over” signalizes the interlocutor that it is his turn to press the button and speak. At the end of the conversation you just say “out” instead of “over” which does not need a reply.

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