VHF in remote areas

In remote locations, on lakes and rivers, where there is no Coast Guard monitoring, would a VHF radio be useful?

I mainly paddle relatively small lakes and rivers. There are a few other boaters, but not many. Do people have experience with VHF radios in these settings? Is there someone listening when you get a radio check, or when there is an emergency?

Would I be better off with a FRS/GMRS with weather channels? Is there a channel on FRS/GMRS that users monitor for emergencies?

I understand (I think) that FRS/GMRS is intended mostly for groups of individuals talking to each other and not for emergencies, but they could prove to be a lot cheaper if no one is listening anyway.


Probably Not That Useful
VHF handheld supposedly can only broadcast within line of sight. If there ain’t anyone out there within your line of sight with a VHF, you’re talking into air… Kinda like that zen koan, “If a tree falls in the woods…”

If you’re really remote, your only option may be a satellite phone since even normal cell phones need to be within distance of a transmission tower. In mountainous areas, cells have a tough time locking in.


Inland radio
Technically, it’s not legal to use a VHF inland (Except on major rivers, Lake Champlain, and the Great Lakes), but nobody’s listening anyway, so it’s not an issue.

As Sing said a satellite phone would probably work, and a CB radio might be useful, too. CB has an emergency channel that you could use if needed.


I wasn’t aware of that inland technicality. I thought they could be used on any waters.

Our state Game & Fish monitor and use VHF on most of our primary reservoirs as do the various county water safety services.

Channel 16 is monitored by most of the fishermen and sailing folks on the larger bodies.

Remote waters are, of course, communication-free!


VHF…license unneccessary since 1996


Thank you N-P