An Introduction to VHF Radio Basics

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Every single Freedom Boat Club vessel has a radio on board. We aren’t talking about a stereo so you can rock out to your tunes, we aren’t talking about walkie-talkies, we are talking about VHF radios, used for ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communication!

Hand-held VHF radios can be found on our in-shore boats, and, in an emergency, can be used on off-shore boats. Our off-shore boats all have 25w mounted radios on board.

Controls and Features

Your radio will have “Volume” and “Squelch” controls. Squelch controls the amount of static you will hear on your radio. Keep the Squelch control as low as possible while still “squelching” (cutting out) the static.

Hand-held radios have a lock feature: the keypad can be locked, so you can accidentally press the buttons or lean up against the radio, and nothing happens. Make sure you have the lock feature turned off if you want to change the channel or adjust your volume, and remember to lock it again once you have finished using it.

Using the Radio

To use the radio, verify which channel you are on, and locate the “push-to-talk” button. When you are ready, depress the “push-to-talk” button, count “one, two” in your head, then relay your communication. When you have finished, release the the “push-to-talk” button.

Power Output Settings

Radios have different output power settings: typically Low, Medium, and High.

The higher your output power, the further your message will carry, so always use the “low” setting for close communication, as a courtesy to others. Reserve the “high” setting for emergencies, when you want your message to reach as many people as possible.

Some radios also have a red output button for emergency use, to maximize the signal strength.

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