More VHF Hand Held questions:

I was considering buying a VHF radio + SAME warning from NOAA. I dunked my FRS radio tonight and may need to replace it or buy two VHF units. Not sure what to do. I use the FRS to talk to my wife while she is on shore with a book and our dog.

Since they do not seem to make a VHF/FRS or GMSR that is priced reasonably I was wondering if any of you use your VHF units as walkie talkies while on inland lakes, etc? Also, do you need to program the radio with each SAME code for the areas you paddle or does it just go off if it sniffs a code?

See other VHF thread
entitled “VHF Marine Radio Tutorial” for some excellent links.

I think it depends on the area. Check the links but there is no longer a license required, they can be used on inland waterways, and I think there is a rule that you have to be in water. I suspect that they are not too fussy about this. I think there are also land channels.

It seems that the FCC and Coast Guard is most concerned about proper use of channel 16, 9 and commercial channels.


Not legal to operate a VHF from land

– Last Updated: Jun-22-04 9:03 AM EST –

without additional licensing. Copied From the FCC web site:


You must have a special license, called a marine utility station license, to operate a hand-held marine radio from land -- a ship station license IS NOT sufficient. You may apply for this license by filing FCC Form 601 with the FCC. To be eligible for a marine utility station license, you must generally provide some sort of service to ships or have control over a bridge or waterway. Additionally, you must show a need to communicate using hand-held portable equipment from both a ship and from coast locations. Each unit must be capable of operation while being hand-carried by an individual. The station operates under the rules applicable to ship stations when the unit is aboard a ship, and under the rules applicable to private coast stations when the unit is on land.

As far as programing the NOAA channels (with the SAME alert), it's probably different for different make and models, but many of the better radios are pre-programed with all (10 or so) channels. It is just a matter of saving your local frquency(s) to your "scan" memory. The channels are easy to find because the broadcasts are non stop. Then when you set your radio to scan, you will not hear the weather broadcast, unless an alert goes out, They usually test the system once a week (usually wednesday in my local). I owned one of the first "home" radios with SAME encoding when they were first introduced, and on that one I had to key-in each freq,as listed in the manual, one at a time until I picked up the strongest broadcast, and it would only monitor the 1 programed channel. On my Standard 470 (and on most other makes), I have the flexability to "monitor" the three stations within range (in my area) or "Scan" one or more of them for alerts. I think you will find that programming the NOAA channels is pretty easy on any of the radios that offer the feature. You will pay a premium price to get FRS with your VHF, but you could always buy the high end radio for yourself and get a $20 (FRS only)for land use.

I’ve read the threads, but
I still can’t quite figure out one thing:

If I hail on channel 9, then ask my paddling buddy to switch channels to communicate about navigation, distance concerns, paddling party concerns, decision making on routes, etc…

what channels can we use? Should I assume the “noncommercial channel category” is right for this?

68, 69, 71, 72, 78, etc.???




Check the excellent links
on the other thread.

You should not be using channel 9…
…for “hailing your buddy”. Decide on which public channel you’re going to use before your trip and use that only. If there’s too much traffic on it, agree to switch channels and do so.

I went and bought an FMRS pair
that has 4 watts and NOAA warnings too. I realized that my wife will not want to play with squelch and that VHF is not the best choice for our usage.

I’ll just have to keep mine in a ziplock when I’m in my yak. Hopefully someone will be making a combo unit by the time we are ready to tackle being out in real marine conditions.

Channel 9 is known as a “hailing” frequency, and even the CG allows hails (then switches) from 9 (or even 16) to other channels.

In any case, I think I paddle in much of the same waters you do and I at least always use 9 for radio checks… as do many off the NH and Maine coasts.

Hey, I could be one of the “derelicts” though :slight_smile:


We used to do that
and then we had the Coast Guard answer one of our calls and tell us to do our hailing on Ch 16 (9 really isn’t used much out here on the West Coast) and then switch to another channel.

Sure would be nice, if they would speak the same words from each of their districts.