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Making marine radio (VHF) easier to handle

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What is the issue?
Certain ship names are difficult to hear correctly on the radio, our boat name 'Obsession' was a particular case. Crew members who are unfamiliar with the boat name phonetics can get lost when they have to step through both the spelling and phonetics at the same time.

Why address this?
Being unable to communicate the ship's name effectively is not good. The only upside of having a crew member stuttering during a broadcast over their inability to spell whilst figuring out the phonetics, is the laughter it provides to all the surrounding vessels within VHF range.

How to address this?
Help to make it easier by placing a sticker alongside the ship's radio with the boats name conveniently spelt out in its phonetics, so the radio operator only has read it off upon request. It also makes sense to place the ships registry or MMSI Number - Maritime Mobile Service Identity a nine-digit registered number which further helps to identify your boat – alongside and any call sign.

On a more serious note, it is also prudent to make sure that you and others onboard know how to use the vessels VHF radio before it is needed in an emergency. It also makes sense to have a card or sticker with the emergency procedure that is set out in VHF protocol for 'Distress' or 'Urgency' Experience posted alongside the radio.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.

How to use VHF marine radio

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