legal requirements, licencing, channels and frequencies, VHF and
off-shore communications sytems.
To obtain a ship's radio licence in the UK visit the Ofcom web site click here, in the USA visit the FCC web site click here.
Callsigns and MMSI numbers are internationally allocated. If you know the vessel name, callsign or MMSI number you can find the vessel particulars at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) web site.
click here for ITU ship database.
For USA ships visit the FCC ship license database click here.
More information on legal requirements click here for OFCOM Ship Radio Guidance Notes
Mobile phone coverage is limited due the ultra high frequency used (>850MHz) and location of base stations.
Marine VHF is the best way of summoning help. You can contact the coastguard upto 50 miles off-shore and talk to other yachts upto 15 to 20 miles on the open sea.
For further information on marine VHF communication click here.
Yachtsmen wishing to communicate with each other or the coastguard over a greater distance use SSB. Before you can transmit using a marine VHF radio from your yacht, you require a VHF marine radio operators certificate
GMDSS Short Range Certificate - VHF marine radio operators certificate
Marine VHF radio channels
Marine SSB (Single Side Band) or HF (High Frequency) is a popular means of communication for the independent cruising yachtsmen and a must if you are planning to do bluewater cruising to the Caribbean, Pacific or Mediterranean.
The range of SSB is upto several thousand miles and calls between yachts are free.
In most parts of the world you can communicate with the coastguard up to serverl hundred miles off-shore.
Global weather can be received via fax and data and you can send and receive email. Having an SSB transceiver on board offer security, entertainment and general communications while at sea.
If you want the capability of being able to transmit on all marine frequencies which include MF/HF/VHF and Inmarsat satellite from a yacht then you need a GMDSS Long Range Certificate (GMDSS LRC)
WHY SSB MIGHT BE FOR YOU! Get the answer from Rod Heikell's very informal site .
Some yachtsmen use amateur radio which is not the same as marine radio has it operates on different frequencies.
To use amateur radio frequencies you are required to hold a full amateur radio operators license.
Amateur Radio - from onboard your yacht
Marine HF intership channels and frequencies
Marine VHF radio Intership channels
A modern marine HF transceiver includes Digital Selective Calling (DSC) which can be used for inter-ship, urgency and distress calling.
Off-shore help and assistance is more likely to come from other yachts or ships within the vicinity of a vessel requiring assistance.
Click here for GMDSS overview
Weather forecasting for off-shore sailing is essential.
In many parts of the world marine weather bulletins are regular broadcasts via HF radio by voice, HF Navtex, RTTY (text) and facsimile.
Click here for HF weather broadcasts stations and frequencies
Click here for HF weather radio receivers
Once off-shore or sailing in foreign waters a shortwave radio can be used to receive news, sport and general entertainment.
Click here for shortwave broadcast stations and frequencies
Click here for HF radio receivers
HF shortwave radio email systems offer a low cost alternative to mobile and satellite phone systems and offers near global coverage.
Most SSB email service providers work on an annual subscription basis, so there are no line-time or number of bits transfer charges as with mobile phone or satellite systems.
To use SSB Email you require an SSB radio such as the ICOM M710 or ICOM M801, a radio pactor modem and a computer running Mircosoft Windows.
Using SSB email is as easy as sending email via your telephone line or mobile phone.
Click here for more information on HF email
Click here HF email overview
Click here SCS pactor modem pricing
Click here for more information on installing SSB antenna
Click here for HF/SSB antennas
Attend a YachtCom Long Range Certificate course to find out more!
What to know more about connection up an SSB!Read the SailMail Primer
When it comes to purchasing a marine HF radio the choice is a little limited.
The reason for this is that marine equipment needs to meet the relevant type approval standards and marine radio's both VHF and HF have to meet the GMDSS requirements.
Here in Europe marine radios being sold today (VHF and HF) must have digital selective calling (DSC).
ICOM ceased inporting the Icom M801E into Europe at the end of 2012 (stocks ran out in early 2013) and therefore there is no 12 volt EU approved HF marine radio that meets all the relevant type approval standards here in Europe.
Click here for more on Icom M801E and M802
Click here for M801E system overview
Clich here for marine HF radio pricing
DSC is a part of the GMDSS and is basically a paging system which you can use to call other vessels or use to make all station safety, urgency and distress alerts.
ICOM's M801E and M802 marine SSB transceiver have built in DSC functions.
Before you can use a DSC marine radio you do need a radio operator's certificate.
Click here for more information on GMDSS
GMDSS Long Range Certificate - radio operator's certificate
GMDSS Long Range Certificate (GMDSS LRC)
GMDSS Short Range Certificate - RYA VHF Radio Course
RYA Radar Course