Tips and Tricks

The following will help ensure that you get the most out of your Nautilus Lifeline unit:

Basics for radio etiquette and protocol include (from a boating perspective so please modify as appropriate):

  • Always monitor channel 16 while underway.  Reserve calling on channel 16 for hailing and distress only.  If you need to hail a vessel, name the vessel you are calling two or three times, state the name of your vessel and wait.  Once the vessel responds, switch immediately to an authorized working channel. (See list.)
  • Example: "Vectis, Vectis, Vectis, this is Aleria on channel 16 over." "Aleria this is Vectis." "Vectis, switch to channel 71." "Vectis switching 71." You meet on channel 71 where you can converse normally.
  • The reason to state the channel you are on is that very often people monitor two (dual) or more frequencies and may have forgotten to switch back to 16 after a previous transmission.
  • Conduct radio checks on channel 9.  This is a hailing frequency for non-commercial and non-emergency traffic.
  • Hail commercial vessels on channel 13 if you need to verify their intentions.  It’s better to discuss a course of action with the captain of a tanker than to create a hazardous situation.   Channel 13 is also the channel bridge tenders listen to. If you need to know when the next bridge opening would be, this is the channel on which to hail the bridge operator.
  • Working channels for recreational boaters are 67, 68, 69, 71, 72, and 78a.  These are also the channels used by many yacht clubs and marinas for their working channels.  Use care not to “step on” or interfere with transmission involving yacht races and other events.  Note that channel 70 is now authorized only for Digital Selective Calling, an emergency automated distress system mandated by international treaty; channel 70 may no longer be used for voice communication.

Please also keep in mind that the Mayday call is only for situations in which life or property is in immediate danger. It is not for calling for help if you've run out of fuel, unless you are in imminent danger (eg, in a channel without an anchor and without alternative propulsion about to go up on rocks). When you call mayday, you are setting the search and rescue operations into immediate action. If you run out of fuel, run aground, or have an engine problem that is not an immediate threat, hail your towing service or the local coast guard for referral to the local towing service. You may also consider issuing a securite warning to other vessels. If you perceive danger but it's either not identifyable or not imminent, you may issue a pan pan which gets everyone to listen up for further updates. So the sequence of radio distress calls is as follows:

Least threatening: Securite, securite, securite (you are towing someone and have restricted maneuverability and you want all others to avoid you or to let you know if there's a potential issue)

Moderately threatening: Pan pan, pan pan, pan pan (you have grounded and believe you may be taking on water slowly or are a hazard to navigation)

Immediate danger and distress: Mayday, mayday, mayday (your ship is going down, you've lost someone overboard, your vessel is being smashed on rocks, etc)

SAMPLE DISTRESS CALL on VHF Channel 16 (2182 kHz or 158.6 MHz on other radios)

MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY, this is (name) _______________________________________, Over. 

Wait for response. Repeat.  If no response, check that channel is on 16 (you are using the Orange Button on the Nautilus Lifeline) and continue broadcast with full information as shown below.   Continue to broadcast until you leave the ship. Activate DSC signal on VHF radios equipped with this new feature.

Mayday, mayday, mayday, this is (name) ________________________________.  We are  ______________ (description, so number of divers?) at position _____________________, ______________________ .  (State nature of distress, e.g., drifting away from shore, have a divers with suspected bends/DCS).   Repeat, our position is _________________, _____________ we are _________ (description, so number of divers?).  Request immediate assistance.  Mayday, mayday, mayday.  Over.

If no response is received, activate the DSC function using the Red Button on the Nautilus Lifeline