Is it legal to LISTEN to VHF on land?

I know it’s illegal to transmit with it on land, but what about listening to what’s on Ch. 16, for example?

Bit of a pain in that I’d like to become more familiar with its operations (practice with husband). We only used it for communications once while paddling, a long time ago. I guess we’ll have to do all practice on the water.

Is fine. Yhe is no way for the fcc to regulate receivers, anyway. Scanners are easily available for purchase and all ham operators routinely evesdrop on all broadcast bands.


There are certain channels that
are set aside for ship to ship, and others ship to shore, and then others for general use.

the others can be used any time.

You are not to be on 16 unless it is for a quick warning, looking for another party, or asking a question in regards to navigation, etc

There is a complete list of channels and their use that comes with each VHF radio

Jack L

You can LISTEN to any channel you want
There are no regulations regarding LISTENING to ANY radio broadcast, as it is a passive activity. TRANSMITTING radio signals IS regulated by the FCC.

you’re just listening, which doesn’t prevent others from using the band.

No problem with monitoring

– Last Updated: Aug-06-13 9:21 AM EST –

at all. You aren't transmitting. It is in fact a requirement to monitor 16 when on the water, although a small craft like a kayak with handhelds are not expected to do so.

In fact, it isn't a bad idea to scan 16, 22a (two two alpha), 09 (the other hailing channel) and the other pleasure use channels to find out what's going on while you are launching. And the weather channel too.

I rarely hail on 16 since our group uses a specific communication channel when afloat. However, I do use 16 to issue a "securite'" call when taking a large group across a busy body of water like the ICW to make local traffic aware. It works.

I listen almost every day
enjoying the Great Lakes weather forecasts, re-tuning my ear to Canadian French, etc. Sometimes the ship to ship communications.

haven’t been tracked down or jailed yet.

legal to listen
You could purchase a couple of dirt cheap FRS/GMRS radios for practicing - my google says they can be had for under 30USD

The only band you can’t listen to is
for the cell phones which by law can’t be included in any receivers sold in the US.

I wonder if they can be jailbroken

Correct, I should have mentioned that
Jack L

Thanks, all
Listening to (hopefully) proper radio communications protocol helps drum it in my head.

I was tempted to say

– Last Updated: Aug-06-13 6:47 PM EST – what I do, and stand in a pool of water when you listen. That way the FCC will never catch you!


Listening Fun
At the NC outer banks it’s really fun to hear some of the older locals chat back and forth. I love to hear that Okracoke brogue:

“Um fishin’ under the bridge. The gnats aboat ta eat muh oyz uwt.”

Translation: “The gnats are about to eat my eyes out.”

As long as you are near the water

– Last Updated: Aug-08-13 11:43 PM EST –

the FCC is not going to bust you. I talk to my fishing buddies out in the bay from a VHF in my waterfront house all the time. I just use the call sign of my boat that is docked in the back yard.

Now if you start making crank mayday calls claiming your boat is sinking somebody is going to triangulate your position and figure out where you are.

It is even more fun
in the fall when the flotilla of all the rich and famous millioners are heading south in the ICW from NY and NJ to Florida in their 100 foot long cruisers.

They are all speeeding try to make it from draw bridge to draw bridge before each one closes.

The local fishermen are on the side lines all repairing their engines and painting their boats etc as the humongus wake rocks the hell out of them.

There is a constant shouting and cursing going back and forth between the haves and the have nots.

Jack L