Naturism, Maritime, Fishing and Fluvial – Before any navigation on a boat equipped with a radio VHF, it is incumbent on its captain to make sure of the good functioning of this radio, essential in case of a problem or to assist a boat in difficult times at sea.
With the reform of division 240 of May 2015, the fixed VHF radio will be obligatory as of January 1, 2017, beyond 6 Miles of a shelter. In this context, the RRC or Certificate Restricted to Radiotelephone Operator will therefore also be mandatory on all boats moving more than six nautical miles from a shelter.
Being equipped with a VHF radio is good, but of course, it works as it should be even better!
Its control before any navigation is obligatory and within reach of any yachtsman! It is realized in two distinct stages …
First step: the visual control of the VHF
The control of the antenna and its descent
- make sure that the antenna is a marine VHF antenna operating in the band 156-162 MHz.
- Check the condition of the coaxial cable that must be in one piece from the antenna to the transmitter. The cable ducts (cable glands) and the outer part are the most vulnerable parts for the cable.
- Be careful that the coaxial cable does not coexist with power cables.
- Check the state of the connection. To do this, disconnect the antenna plug on the back of the VHF and make sure the welds are clean, and the whole thing perfectly dry. Do the same with the antenna if it is present.
- Ensure the integrity of the coax: a simple hole the size of a pinhead in the sheath exposed to the outside of the boat allows the water to go up this cable to the transmitter by capillarity …
Why this control? Failure to comply with these recommendations directly results in significant “return power” that can alter the operation of the VHF and even destroy it in some cases.
Control of the power supply
- ensures that the power source is in good condition and is sufficient to ensure the optimal operation of the equipment.
- Carry out regular maintenance of the boat’s batteries.
- Check the condition of the power socket to avoid cuts and other short circuits …
Why this control? Nothing is more annoying than a VHF inoperative due to insufficient power or a wet power socket …
The control of the transmitter/receiver
- Make sure that the microphone jack and the microphone’s alternate pedal are in good condition.
Second step: a contact test with another VHF station
Once the visual verification of his VHF done, it is then time to test it, to see if everything works properly! During this test, particular care should be taken to:
- The quality of the transmission of his voice (modulation). A dull sound and little understandable can be explained by a defective micro pellet.
- The scope of his installation. The higher the antenna, the greater the range.
- In the case where a power meter / TOS meter is available, it is possible to connect its device to the output of its transmitter: the measurement of the return power must be less than 10% of the power delivered by the transmitter.
- Attention: the presence of LED lights, especially at the position lights, can cause interference VHF radio emissions and AIS. It is therefore advisable to test and dismantle this type of equipment if necessary in case of problems.
Most common VHF channels
Channel 16 – Of obligatory permanent listening. It is the channel established throughout the world for the making of distress, urgency and safety calls.
Channel 70 – LSD (Digital Selective Call, also known by the acronym DSC ) We can not select this channel because it receives/sends it as data and not telephony as the rest of the channels.
Channels 75/76 – Used by the coastal ones for safety in navigation and transmission LO (Low 1W).
Channels 10/11 – Channels restricted to port communications and maritime traffic control.
Channel 6 – Restricted to search and rescue.
Channel 9 – Channel dedicated to communication between boats and marinas. The channel should be put to good use by limiting the output to 1W (Low – LO) so as not to interfere with other nearby ports.
Channels 8/69/72/77 – These are channels through which we can talk freely for communication between boats.
Finally, remember that the VHF transmitter is a radio communication system that is common in pleasure craft that every skipper should know well before going to sea and teach its use to the crew for the safety of everyone on board.
Keep listening on channel 16 is mandatory and if we want to be on another channel, we will activate the function DUAL WATCH (D / L – DUAL – DW) to keep listening on another channel and on 16 simultaneously.