Introduction to the Maritime Radio Band

Without question, reliable marine communications equates to safety in the minds of most boaters. When things begin to go wrong, and believe me, Murphy’s Law will catch up with everyone eventually. Having the ability to communicate with those that can provide you with assistance is worth much more than the cost of even the most expensive high quality marine radio. As an added bonus, the capability to communicate with other vessels or with shore stations for those simple day to day tasks that arise cannot be overvalued.

So wherever you cruise, whether it is a short day trip or a thousand mile offshore passage, the right equipment is out there. Marine VHF Radio’s for short range communications, MF/HF Single Sideband’s for long range communications, or Satellite systems that allow for nearly worldwide coverage, the equipment necessary to get the job done is available for almost any size vessel or budget.

When it comes to marine radios, the two most common questions I hear are:

"I have a cell phone, do I have to carry a radio on my boat?" Duhhh...I Give Up
 
-and-
 
Do I have to have a license to operate my boat’s radio?  

Ignoring the obvious safety implications, the quick and dirty answer to both questions is "for most U.S. recreational boaters probably not." For most others worldwide, probably yes! However, like all things in life there are exceptions; and for those that want to make absolutely sure of their status, please read on:

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