Marine VHF Channels for Making Distress Calls

Last updated on May 8, 2021

VHF Channels FOR MAKING Distress Calls

Once you purchased your VHF marine radio, don't forget to program the DSC function on it that allows you to instantly send formatted distress alerts to the Coast Guard.

You should get familiar with the procedures of making distress calls. Below is an example of an emergency call using VHF marine radio.

  • Tune your radio to channel 16.
  • Distress signal "MAYDAY" (spoken 3 times).
  • The words "THIS IS" (spoken once).
  • Name of vessel in distress (spoken 3 times) and call sign or boat registration number (spoken once).
  • Repeat "MAYDAY" and name of vessel (spoken once).
  • Give position of vessel by latitude or longitude or by bearing (true or magnetic, state which) and distance to a well-known landmark such as a navigational aid or small island, or in any terms which will assist a responding station in locating the vessel in distress. Include any information on vessel movement such as course, speed and destination.
  • Nature of distress (sinking, fire, medical emergency etc.).
  • Kind of assistance desired.
  • Number of persons onboard.
  • The word "OVER"

Stay by the radio if possible. Even after the message has been received, the Coast Guard can find you more quickly if you can transmit a signal on which a rescue boat or aircraft can come.

We also recommend getting an emergency weather radio that will help you be notified of any bad weather condition on the way.

About the author  Robert Finn

Robert has over 20 years of experience boating and selling boat equipment. His passion for the latest and greatest gear helps our clients find what they need. His favorite boating place is the Florida Keys.