If you’re just getting into VHF radio, then you need to get a solid grounding and this guide is there to provide that
Ensure that The Radio is Working Properly
It is absolutely critical to be sure that your radio is fully working before you go out on the water. The first step is to ensure that it turns on, and that all channels you plan to use and functions are working properly. Perform a radio check with a partner on the shore.
If you have a hand portable radio, ensure that it is fully charged. If you are on a patrol boat and are operating from a fixed radio after powering up the radio, it is also important to perform a radio check to ensure that it is working properly. Visit www.tennamast.com for radio masts.
Practice Your Microphone Technique
To clearly convey your messages, it is important to have the proper microphone technique. Hold the radio microphone 1 inch from the mouth, speak slowly in a regular tone of voice to help you avoid any distortion.
Be Disciplined, Brief, and Clear in All Your Transmission
When operating your radio, it is important to be clear, brief, and disciplined. Think about what you will say before actually saying it. Talk slowly and wait for a response from the other person. During your communication, ensure that the person you talk to acknowledges your communication by saying ‘Understood’, ‘Over’, or ‘Say again’ if it is not. If a response is expected, make sure that each transmission ends with ‘Over’ and ‘Out’ if a response is not expected. This will pay dividends when communicating in particularly windy conditions so that everybody knows exactly what’s happening.
Ensure that all those helping in the session are aware of the channels to use and try making sure that channels aren’t clogged up with chit chat. Try getting everybody involved with running the session into the habit that communications that aren’t beneficial to the session should not be conveyed over the radio.
The radio should only be used as part of the session or when you need to use it in an emergency. Ask yourself whether it is important for you to send that message. Would it be easier to motor over to the other shore crew or patrol boat if they are close by? Always ensure that the radio’s squelch control is set just right that it helps cancel out the static noise but it isn’t so far up that it prevents you from hearing other radio traffic.
Being Polite Is Virtuous
It is always a good habit to say thank you and please when you use the radio. If you thank other users, they will think of you in a kindlier way.
Be Mindful of Your Language
Always remember that a VHF radio is open to the world and that everyone within range can hear you. Bad language is simply unacceptable and is not allowed under the rules in your license.
The Radio is Not a Toy
Our radios have met the highest waterproofing and dust-proofing standards. Still, radios can be damaged by repetitive mistreatment such as being dropped, chewed antennas, swinging the radio by its antenna, etc. The sustained manipulation of the antenna can either break it completely or significantly affect its performance.
The unfortunate consequence is that you might wrongly assume that the radio is not working properly while in reality it is the antenna that’s impaired. To protect the components of the radio, minimize repairs, as well as the cost of replacing the equipment, you must ensure that the radio’s exterior is protected.
Using of Aqua Bags
Icom radios are already waterproof, but we are aware of several schools that put their VHF radios in aqua bags. While this may provide an additional layer of waterproofing, if you choose the wrong size of bag, you might bend the antenna and this may eventually lead to poor coverage. You should also make sure that both the radio and bag are dry when sealed. If there’s humidity trapped in the bag, it can lead to corrosion which is not what you obviously want.
Aqua bags offer an additional layer against pushing the buttons. If the bag is poorly fitting, the radio may slip. This could mean that while you think you are pushing the PTT button, you might not, and your message may only be transmitted intermittently.
For day to day battery charging ensure that all battery contacts are free of corrosion both on the rear and charger terminals of the battery. If the contacts are dirty, the radio charger might not detect the battery and the battery won’t be charged correctly. Be sure to charge your radio batteries in a compatible charger. If not, you could potentially damage your radio and battery.
The Dangers of Salt Corrosion
The fact is that over time your VHF radio along with other marine electronic equipment may experience salt corrosion. If the corrosion is the bad news then the good news is that you can take several steps to ensure that your VHF radio continues being your trusted safety aid.
It is always good practice to thoroughly clean your radio using fresh water after exposure to saltwater. Otherwise, switches, keys, and controllers might become inoperable because of salt crystallization. It is a simple yet practical procedure that helps you prolong the life of the VHF radio. If you plan to rinse any other waterproof portable marine electronic equipment, be sure that it is indeed waterproof before you give it a bath. Don’t forget to dry the radio after you clean it.