VHF Radio Rules

I understand that it’s illegal to use a marine radio on land. So if a wife on land is looking for her husband who is in a boat she has to go stand in the water to call him on the radio? Have I got that straight? On the surface that sure seems stupid. Is there some logic here that I’m missing?

No one is going to get you for standing on land conversing with a vessel. Don’t overthink this, just be brief on the radio, don’t occupy 16 or 9, and if in Canada have an operators license. Millions of hand helds are used in shore to ship communication.


– Last Updated: Jul-01-08 9:15 AM EST –

Some pumped up bureaucrat making up rules. (I figured as much).

Done all the time. Fishing fleets, Ferry Operators, etc, etc, all use ‘base-stations’ to coordinate with their boats. I’d say as long as ONE of you is on the water, you’re in compliance.

Salty-Yes, Others-No
Salty has given you appropriate, practical advice concerning the use of VHF marine radios. With all due respect, the rest don’t seem to have read or have any understanding of what the regs say or why.

who are “the rest”?

I’m scratching my head
trying to figure out how Bullseye’s post contradicts what Salty said

As Salty mentioned, you should use your VHF sparingly.

If you need to have a longer discussion with someone and/or if you are concerned about the ‘on-land’ issue… get a set of GMRS/FRS radios. They’re cheap and they work.

If you are just wanting to make a quick check-in, stick with the VHF. Assign the land-based user a ‘boat’ name so that you can hail them without drawing attention to the fact that one of you is not on a boat.

I can’t help myself, I love bending rules!

Not quite
Salty was correct, but your example of ferry operations and fishing fleets using shore to shore require a ship’s license and an operator’s license.

The rules were relaxed to encourage more personal use of the VHF and they were not relaxed for commercial operations.

Agreed…The land based base stations used by commercial fleets, etc. require a special license… it was not the best analogy.

that or just
switch to one of the unused channels that are specifically designated for that purpose—no don’t ask me which ones they are I can’t remember but they are there—I usually use 17 for “private” conversations.

A lot of my neighbors have “base” VHF stations to talk to their mates when they are out fishing. But now a lot of personal conversation has switched to cell phones.

Here Ya Go
Uhhh… 17 don’t look right.


yeah I know but
we use it for very short conversationww

For Salty,

I’ll be doing a trip in Northern Lake Superior this September and just saw your post about using my VHF in Canada. Can you tell me the general rules on the need for an operators’ license there and what it takes to get one? Or if I’m just carrying mine for weather reports and emergency purposes, can I just take the risk that the Canadian Coast Guard won’t get too excited if they see the antenna poking out of my pfd?

Reception is fine!
No license is required to receive VHF transmissions in Canada. If you want to transmit, you should have an operator’s license. If it’s an emergency, go ahead and transmit, no one’s going to ask to see your license. Just don’t use your VHF for chatter, carry a GMRS for that.

Thanks, magoo!
My paddling partner and I rarely use our VHF radios for calling one another. But where we’ll be on this trip, I doubt there would be anyone around to hear anyway…

Next time, skip that freshwater stuff and visit the Maritimes for some real paddling. :slight_smile:

Yeah, just be professional
probably not an issue. You could contact the FCC and obtain a license so you’ll be covered in Canada, but I gotta say I’ve never heard of an issue with US folk using hand helds in BC, where I paddle a lot.

There may be consequences that I’m ignorant about so it may be worth a chat with Canadian CG. My bet is they’ll say “Just be prudent”.

Have fun!

Yes Grayhawk
Even the USCG will switch people to cell communication whenever possible to keep the VHF frequencies clear. VHF users please do not converse on a non-public channel no matter how short the chat!