Safety Radio

VHF Radio Equipment is required by all vessels proceeding to seaward of:

Narrows Channel
South Channel
Western (Hogfish) Small Boat Channel
The Outer Reef between Pompano Beacon and Spit Buoy.

The VHF radio operates on a ‘line of sight’ principle, offering group protection by allowing many boats in the area to listen to calls.

In distress situations or when a boat breaks down, VHF radio is the most efficient means of communication. The only significant limitation of VHF radio is that it will be useless if swamped by a wave or if the boat’s battery is underwater. Consider taking a hand-held VHF that is waterproof or kept in a sealable plastic bag. It can be used while still inside the bag.

If you are planning to use a cell phone as your only means of communication, consider the advantages VHF has over your cell phone;

  • better coverage and fewer shadow areas
  • collective safety with both shore stations and other boats listening. If you are in distress you want everyone possible to know
  • batteries in a VHF are longer lasting
  • there is no need to remember phone numbers
  • you are not relying on just one person to pass on the message.

These advantages work for everyone if all vessels keep a constant listening watch on VHF Channel 16, the international distress channel. However, a cell phone that is in a sealed plastic bag and kept in your pocket may be a lifesaver if you capsize suddenly, provided you are in an area where there is coverage.

If your boat capsizes or swamps, water will make the VHF inoperable. Back up the VHF by carrying a cell phone in a sealed plastic bag.

Rules for Radio Use

  • listen before transmitting
  • don’t make unnecessary calls and keep all calls as brief as possible
  • don’t allow children to play with the radio
  • always use the name of the boat you are calling first, then identify yourself using your boat name
  • always ensure your microphone is correctly stowed to avoid accidental transmissions which will lock up the channel
  • use Channel 16 for making your initial call, then move to an agreed working channel
  • for emergencies, stay on Channel 16 unless you are directed to another channel by Bermuda Radio
  • return to Channel 16 when you have completed a call

VHF DSC Tutorial (Boat U.S)  Courtesy of Boat U.S.

Bermuda Radio keeps a 24-hour listening watch on Channel 16.

The following are the allocations of marine VHF channels in Bermuda which you should make yourself familiar before attempting to use the radio:

CH 07  Repeater Station (Ch 07 International)

CH 10  Port Operations (Tugs & Tenders)

CH 12  Port Operations (Bermuda Pilot Station)

CH 13  Swing Bridge and Long Bird Bridge Operations

CH 16  Distress, Call/Reply

CH 22  Bermuda Marine Police Section

CH 27  Bermuda Radio / ZBR  Primary Working Channel

CH 68  Bermuda Radio / ZBR Secondary Working Channel

CH 70  Digital Selective Calling (voice communication prohibited – to be used exclusively for digital selective calling for distress, safety calling and calling WX CH 02 Continuous Marine Weather Broadcast