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VHF protocols

jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,343 Moderator
Some of us have been talking about it recently as it seems more and more kayakers are carrying VHF radios as part of their safety gear. I will be the first to admit, I only bought one this year at a Bass Pro sale and had no clue what channels to use etc. I've combed a few forum pages and come up with some useful tips for the NMZ community.

First rule: Channel 16 is Coast Guard's International Hailing and Distress channel. Try to stay off it unless you're calling in an emergency.

Radio Check: I've witnessed captains doing a radio check to ensure they're being heard clearly by other boaters or CG. There seems to be an easier way now. https://www.seatow.com/boating-safety/automated-radio-checks Basically, SeaTow offers an automated radio check on channels 24/26/27/28; but check your local SeaTow first. Miami is channel 26, Ft Lauderdale & Pompano Beach area is 27, Palm Beach & Boca is back to Channel 26.

Here is Coast Guard's list of channels with official designations: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=mtvhf

^ I see a lot of "Commercial, Port Operations, and Government" channels on that list so it seems that 68, 69, 71 and 72 are our best bets for local [non commercial] chatter.


Post up your experiences with the different radio channels in this thread.
68 seemed ok to me at Dania, but had a lot of chatter from the marina closeby and of course Port Everglades.
Hobie Kayak angler for life!

Replies

  • drod13drod13 Posts: 259 Officer
    This is a great idea! Thanks for all the research. I just bought a radio also and have been trying to figure it out myself.

    Channel 14 is for the Harbor Masters to communicate with ships coming and going to Port Everglades. Please try to stay off that channel also.
    2013 OK Trident 13/2015 Hobie Outback :fishing jig.gif
  • ProduktProdukt Posts: 592 Officer
    Recreational fishing is 68. That's what I use, that's what I tell fellow anglers to use. The bait guys use it if you want bait on the water and you can hear reports from other fishermen on boats
  • timmcollinstimmcollins Posts: 858 Officer
    Thanks
    Glad to hear there are radio check channels now.
    "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, martini in one hand, Cheeseburger in the other, body well used and worn out and screaming WOO-HOO What a Ride!"
  • sammy2189sammy2189 Posts: 998 Officer
    Now the million dollar question. What's a good radio that's water proof and doesn't count a arm and a leg for starters. I would like to stay under 150?only thing holding me back from going out alone.
    Hobie outback
  • ProduktProdukt Posts: 592 Officer
    The new standard horizon HX290. $129, waterproof/submersible, easy to use, floats. I have the H280S which is kinda the same thing but it doesn't float, wish I could upgrade.
  • drod13drod13 Posts: 259 Officer
    I have the hx290. Only used it a couple times so far. No complaints. Like the 3 yr. Warranty also. Could find it online for about $100.
    2013 OK Trident 13/2015 Hobie Outback :fishing jig.gif
  • Captain YakCaptain Yak Posts: 679 Officer
    I'm always on 72 when fishing. My buddy and I call each other kayak 1 and kayak 2. Since we're both in law enforcement, we are very comfortable talking on a radio. However, a good ethical rule would be to keep your radio traffic to a minimum.

    As for the radio itself, I've had about 6 in the last 2-3 years. Had to return all of them because they don't last. All were waterproof and all were rinsed and well cared for. The one I have now seems to be the best. I'll post the models in a few so everyone knows a few not to get.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    If you don't lose, you will eventually win.
    - Helio Gracie

    Links:
    YouTube - SoFlo Kayak Fishing
    Valente Brother's Jiu-Jitsu Fort Lauderdale
  • Captain YakCaptain Yak Posts: 679 Officer
    I first started with a cheap waterproof Cobra which died when I sprayed it with the mist from my hose. I've had 4 of the west marine vhf 85's. The reason I kept going back was because the first one lasted a while. The salt destroyed the battery latch and I returned it. The other 3 didn't last after getting wet. All were under warranty so it was no cost to exchange. I finally upgraded a little to the Standard Horizon hx300. So far the Standard Horizon seems like it's going to last. Just make sure you get the extended warranty.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    If you don't lose, you will eventually win.
    - Helio Gracie

    Links:
    YouTube - SoFlo Kayak Fishing
    Valente Brother's Jiu-Jitsu Fort Lauderdale
  • INTREPID377INTREPID377 Posts: 3,736 Captain
    jcanracer wrote: »
    First rule: Channel 16 is Coast Guard's International Hailing and Distress channel. Try to stay off it unless you're calling in an emergency.

    Actully your "First rule" couldn't be more wrong. You are REQUIRED to monitor Channel 16 if you have a VHF This makes sure you can be raised in an emergency, are aware of USCG Sucurete announcments and can assist if another vessel has an emergency - Read Radio Watchkeeping Regulations here - http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=mtWatch

    Most VHF's have a "dual" watch feature that allows you to monitor 16 along with another channel of your choosing.
  • FLA_tonyFLA_tony Posts: 59 Greenhorn
    sammy2189 wrote: »
    Now the million dollar question. What's a good radio that's water proof and doesn't count a arm and a leg for starters. I would like to stay under 150?only thing holding me back from going out alone.

    Look for anything that is ipx8 waterproof. That is the highest rating that I know of. I have a icom m92d that is great, ipx7 water proof, floats and flashes. Has the gps function, but pricey. The icom m73 floats and is ipx8 waterproof and 100 cheaper. I believe there are a few standard horizon that are ipx8 and under 200.
  • quatinquatin Posts: 599 Officer
    I got the Standard Horizon HX280s. It died 1 month out of the warranty period. From the reviews I gathered, there are too many weak points on a cheap VHF radio that won't last when constantly exposed to salt water. Mic port, speaker, battery connector, antenna seal and etc.

    If you get one, keep it in a sealed bag. I just bought the Nautlius Lifeline VHF radio designed for divers. It has a cap that closes and becomes waterproof to 400 feet. Not very user friendly as a general use VHF radio though.
  • Lilmatty5dimesLilmatty5dimes Posts: 46 Deckhand
    Some great advice. how is cobra brand? looking at the hh500 which as bluetooth so you can receive calls when on the water. new to vhf radios.
    "Better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6"
  • MartianMartian Posts: 16 Greenhorn
    Finally somebody
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,343 Moderator
    Actully your "First rule" couldn't be more wrong. You are REQUIRED to monitor Channel 16 if you have a VHF This makes sure you can be raised in an emergency, are aware of USCG Sucurete announcments and can assist if another vessel has an emergency - Read Radio Watchkeeping Regulations here - http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=mtWatch

    Most VHF's have a "dual" watch feature that allows you to monitor 16 along with another channel of your choosing.

    Point taken.
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • jcanracerjcanracer Posts: 4,343 Moderator
    Some great advice. how is cobra brand? looking at the hh500 which as bluetooth so you can receive calls when on the water. new to vhf radios.
    I have the Cobra MRHH350 and it was only $100 at Bass Pro, BUT side by side with a standard horizon that a friend of mine had I noticed I was not picking up as much chatter on the same channels as he was. This leads me to believe the range may be more limited on the budget cobra model.
    Hobie Kayak angler for life!
  • Dude-On-A-KayakDude-On-A-Kayak Posts: 256 Deckhand
    I have the Standard Horizon HX150 waterproof, floating handheld. It works. The range is decent when the ocean is calm, but if it's choppy the range is very limited. There are many times when all I can here is one side of a conversation. This may be typical of all handhelds, which have a shorter antenna.

    I'm considering getting a fixed mount with an antenna and using the handheld as a backup or to give to a buddy. If I ever bought another handheld, it would have GPS capability.
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Posts: 3,738 Captain
    I am satisfied with my Uniden Atlantis 270, for $91 on line at amazon, floats, waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes, 6 watt power option, weather alert , and dual scan, basically everything you need as a kayaker.
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Posts: 3,738 Captain
    I am satisfied with my Uniden Atlantis 270, for $91 on line at amazon, floats, waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes, 6 watt power option, weather alert , and dual scan, basically everything you need as a kayaker.

    Was satisfied until I rolled the kayak. The radio was maybe 24" underwater for 30 seconds, and now I am having to mail it back to them because it has not worked since. It is under warranty, but having this happen really lowers my expectations for the repaired radio to be reliable.
  • clearchoice18clearchoice18 Posts: 118 Deckhand
    i just bought the cobra marine hh500 submersible with bluetooth built in. why? well my phone is not water proof so this radio lets me answer my phone and make phone calls, and i can scan 9,16, and any other of my choice. got it at bass pro. still being tested cause i haven't gone out much. i want to start going out more and trying to cover all my safety gear. as a matter of fact i will start carrying a flair gun being in a kayak it would be compact and very visible. what would be good is to make different kind of color flairs for us kayakers when big ships don't see use. none emergency colors. ( just a thought..) would like to hear your feed back on the flair idea.:huh and hope to meet you guys out there, tight lines.:fishing
  • PicmanPicman Posts: 312 Deckhand
    edited June 2018 #21
    C'mon Darwin... What are the flares for? So the big ships can keep score??
  • watergatorwatergator Fort Pierce Posts: 195 Deckhand
    I'm always on 72 when fishing. My buddy and I call each other kayak 1 and kayak 2. Since we're both in law enforcement, we are very comfortable talking on a radio. However, a good ethical rule would be to keep your radio traffic to a minimum.

    As for the radio itself, I've had about 6 in the last 2-3 years. Had to return all of them because they don't last. All were waterproof and all were rinsed and well cared for. The one I have now seems to be the best. I'll post the models in a few so everyone knows a few not to get.
    I would recommend getting a set of basic 2 way radios for this kind of stuff. I have Motorola Talkabout radios and give one to my buddy when I go out offshore. Its great for letting each other know whats going on or if you hook up without having to yell and it keeps you off of the vhf waves. 

    https://www.amazon.com/Motorola-T600-Talkabout-Radio-Pack/dp/B01DM7AKOI/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1530193750&sr=1-2&refinements=p_n_feature_keywords_browse-bin:3400160011,5597502011
  • Unnivaho89Unnivaho89 PattersonPosts: 8 Greenhorn
    Oh, well, that's a great topic. I love new videos to watch or just for beautiful girls https://escortlisbon.info/ Now it's true that football takes a lot of time, but I do not forget to take a look at girls.
  • Wra22Wra22 Posts: 234 Deckhand
    I keep my standard horizen in my life vest pocket. Might need it if get seperated from yak.
  • harrysalvatore1989harrysalvatore1989 Boca RatonPosts: 3 Greenhorn
    I first started with a cheap waterproof Cobra which died when I sprayed it with the mist from my hose. I've had 4 of the west marine vhf 85's. The reason I kept going back was because the first one lasted a while. The salt destroyed the battery latch and I returned it. The other 3 didn't last after getting wet. All were under warranty so it was no cost to exchange. I finally upgraded a little to the Standard Horizon hx300. So far the Standard Horizon seems like it's going to last. Just make sure you get the extended warranty.
    Thanks for your reply. However, what do you mean?
    Hi to all! My name is Harry. I am a psychologist. I have the best job in the world - https://bocaratonrehabcenter.com/. I am also a sports fan. In my free time I play swimming and rugby. I'm doing well. I will be glad to meet new people.
  • gogittumgogittum Nature CoastPosts: 2,709 Captain

    I would recommend getting a set of basic 2 way radios for this kind of stuff. I have Motorola Talkabout radios and give one to my buddy when I go out offshore. Its great for letting each other know whats going on or if you hook up without having to yell and it keeps you off of the vhf waves. 

    https://www.amazon.com/Motorola-T600-Talkabout-Radio-Pack/dp/B01DM7AKOI/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1530193750&sr=1-2&refinements=p_n_feature_keywords_browse-bin:3400160011,5597502011
    I've used those several times when a couple of cars are caravanning to a destination.  I've had them work well up to 5 miles apart.  Very, very useful.....but I hate that double beep when you let off of the transmit button.

    The point made above about colored flares was a good one.  I agree.
  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Posts: 3,738 Captain
    gogittum said:

    I would recommend getting a set of basic 2 way radios for this kind of stuff. I have Motorola Talkabout radios and give one to my buddy when I go out offshore. Its great for letting each other know whats going on or if you hook up without having to yell and it keeps you off of the vhf waves. 

    https://www.amazon.com/Motorola-T600-Talkabout-Radio-Pack/dp/B01DM7AKOI/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1530193750&sr=1-2&refinements=p_n_feature_keywords_browse-bin:3400160011,5597502011
    I've used those several times when a couple of cars are caravanning to a destination.  I've had them work well up to 5 miles apart.  Very, very useful.....but I hate that double beep when you let off of the transmit button.

    The point made above about colored flares was a good one.  I agree.
    That beeping sound is deliberately put on the tail end of the transmission to allow the receiver to know you are done transmitting, so he can then reply(helping to avoid cut-offs). It is called the "roger beep," and can be turned off in the settings.  Cheaper radios require depressing the transmission button and pausing a couple of seconds prior to talking to avoid cut-offs.

    These radios are Ultra high frequency.  UHF does not travel as far as VHF, but is better for penetration through structure at short ranges.  Motorola makes the best commercial UHF radios.  I used them on Merchant Ships for 3 decades, and no other brand worked as well.
     The link for that radio claims "up to 35 miles" with an asterisk to indicate only in the best conditions.  I have made 800 mile calls on VHF radio in optimal conditions.

    For practical purposes, line of sight is what we should expect for handheld radios while kayak fishing.  That said, If one can stand up while transmitting, their line of sight is increased and thus so is the range of the radio.  

  • John McKroidJohn McKroid Posts: 3,738 Captain
    I have the cobra and I have the Standard Horizon HX150 waterproof, floating handheld. It range is decent when the ocean is calm, but if it's choppy the range is very limited. There are many times when all I can hear is one side of a conversation.

    The range should be the line of sight.  Limited range in choppy weather probably has to do with the fact that your line of sight is also reduced.  Sometimes if only one side of a conversation is coming through, somebody has water in their microphone.  I had retired a West Marine radio that stopped receiving and could only transmit.  For $10 a warranty at West Marine is worth getting.  After my kayak flipped briefly, my standard horizon hx210 stopped working.  much easier to bring it into West Marine for a new one than to deal with phone calls and shipping for replacement via mfgs.
  • krashkrash Posts: 778 Officer
    You can hear one side because the VHF on a boat for example is 25 watts and their antenna is 6+ feet above the waterline, usually mounted higher on the T-Top or fly bridge...
    In the kayak you are on the surface of the seat holding the handheld radio with its 3" rubber duckie antenna at face level, maybe 2' above the surface.. and VHF is line of sight, not your eye sight but the level of the antenna.

    VHF has the advantage over those 2 way walkie talkie radios of multiple channels, broadcast to anyone else in range so you can communicate with anyone else within range and switch to another channel, plus the emergency channel, and most have weather channels..  I have one (SH870) with, optional another hundie out of pocket, DSC calling, GPS with basic ability to set way points and/or routes or use it as a compas.
    I also carry mine with me in my go bag on the power boat for emergency backup just in case.


    If you want longer range, some guys especially ones with boats that fish far out of range like ENP back country, will set up a long wire and extend a antenna on the tip of their push pole to get the antenna 20' in the air for emergency use.
    Old Fugger who just likes to fish
  • ShawnEricMilesShawnEricMiles Key WestPosts: 2 Greenhorn
    I have heard lots of people using very general language on official stations. Important to know which stations to talk on and how to talk on what stations. The coastguard is a good contact for more info.
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