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PA Boating Handbook
CHAPTER 3 - BOAT OPERATION
VHF Radio
A VHF (very high frequency) radio is used to communicate with other boaters, the Coast Guard, commercial vessels, draw bridge tenders and lock operators. A VHF is not required to be U.S. Coast Guard approved. Recreational boaters are not required to carry VHF radios, but they are highly recommended on larger waters, such as Lake Erie. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates their use. Recreational boats less than 20 meters in length are NOT required to have a station license to operate a VHF radio unless they travel to foreign ports or transmit to foreign stations. Use of a VHF radio is enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard.

There are many channels on the VHF, but recreational boaters are given access only to a few.

6 intership safety communications only
9 commercial and non-commercial intership,
ship to coast and alternate calling channel
13 ocean-going vessels, bridge tenders, tugs while towing, locks
16 distress safety and calling, call Coast Guard, establish general contact
24-28, 84-88 public telephone calls (to call the marine operator)
68, 69, 71 and 78 non-commercial intership and ship to coast (recreational boat working channels)
72 non-commercial intership only
Marine weather (WX-1, WX-2, WX-3) stations broadcast the latest available weather information from the National Weather Service continually. Forecasts are updated every six hours or more often as conditions require.
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