Ra­dio checks

Yachting Monthly - - THE KNOWLEDGE - Andy Du Port

How of­ten do you hear a mer­chant ship or fish­ing ves­sel con­duct­ing a ra­dio check? The an­swer is never, so why do so many yachts feel it nec­es­sary to call up the coast­guard ev­ery time they go to sea?

Mod­ern VHF ra­dios are re­mark­ably re­li­able: if they are re­ceiv­ing clearly there is a bet­ter than av­er­age chance that they will trans­mit when re­quired. Be­sides, a fault could de­velop at any time, and a suc­cess­ful ra­dio check is ab­so­lutely no guar­an­tee that it will work when you next need it.

So, what’s the harm in a ra­dio check? First, it is an un­nec­es­sary trans­mis­sion, and we are duty bound to make the min­i­mum num­ber of calls, and to keep them short. Se­condly, ra­dio checks are hor­ri­bly ir­ri­tat­ing for the rest of us in busy sail­ing ar­eas when we have to lis­ten to them al­most con­tin­u­ously. Thirdly, and most per­ti­nently, most ra­dio checks are con­ducted on VHF Chan­nel 16, which is not re­ally meant for this sort of traf­fic, and they of­ten in­ter­rupt or block out more ur­gent calls.

If you must check your ra­dio – and there are times, such as im­me­di­ately af­ter in­stalling a new set, when it is pru­dent to do so – use a work­ing chan­nel: a ma­rina on Chan­nel 80, an­other yacht on a pre-ar­ranged chan­nel (or by a rou­tine call on DSC) or the Na­tional Coast­guard In­sti­tu­tion on Chan­nel 65. Oth­er­wise, al­low the peace to pre­vail for ev­ery­one on the wa­ter!

Don’t get car­ried away do­ing ra­dio checks

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