-by Steve Holtzman**
Ok , you gone and bought that submersible VHF radio, and you learned what all of the buttons and knobs do, but you still don’t know how to use it. Well, here’s the un-official CKF everything you wanted to know about radios but were afraid to ask.
First there are some definitions that you need to know.
Mayday- This comes from the French m’aidez which literally means “help me”. It is used to indicate an imminent loss of life is possible.
Pan Pan- Actually this is pronounced “pon pon”. This is used to identify a situation where there isn’t an immediate possibility of loss of life. For example, if a person in your group was completely incapacitated due to sea sickness, and you couldn’t tow them, a Pan Pan call would be appropriate.
Securite Securite- This call means that important safety information follows. This could be announcing that a group of paddlers is trying to enter a harbor while there is limited visibility due to fog.
Over – This indicates that you have stopped talking and are waiting for a reply.
Out – This indicates that you have stopped talking and no reply is expected. If you are using proper etiquette, only the person who initiated the call should end it with Out.
Roger – OK or yes
Wilco – Will Comply
My two biggest pet peeves in radio procedure is the person who asks “how do you read me?” and the person who says “over and out”. The first is impossible; I can hear you on the radio, but I can’t read anything. The second is nonsense. It means I’m waiting for your reply and hanging up with no reply necessary.
What Channels can I use?
Channel 16 is used for calling other boats or when you are in distress. By law, all vessels with a radio should be monitoring Ch 16. When contact is made, switch to a “working channel”
Channel 9 is used as a “hailing” channel in other parts of the country. It is not normally used in California .
Channel 22Alpha (22A) is where the Coast Guard will ask you to switch to when you are talking to them
Channel 68, 69, 71, 72, 78 Channels for recreational boaters. CKF usually uses Ch 69 as our “working channel”.
To make a call, announce the name of the party you are calling 3 times and then give your name. For example, if I was calling the Coast Guard, I would say: US Coast Guard , US Coast Guard , US Coast Guard, this is the kayak Foggy Day on Ch 16 over.
If I was calling another kayaker, as soon as they answered, I would ask them to switch to Ch 69.
If you are reporting a Mayday. The procedure is the same: Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, This is Foggy Day on 16 over.
Or Pan Pan, Pan Pan, Pan Pan, this is Foggy Day on Ch 16. Likewise for a Securite (pronounced Se cur I tay) call.
Keep your calls short and remember, only one person can talk at a time. Therefore always listen before starting to transmit.
**Steve Holtzman was the late past president of California Kayak Friends. Reprint permission granted by CKF on 6/22/15.
-Posted by Jay Murdock