Information on Air

Your marine VHF radio is a useful source of navigational information. 

In many of the larger port areas and some coastal areas, vessel traffic services (VTS) radio stations are in operation.  These give regular broadcasts on ship movements, works in progress that may cause obstructions, divers working and tide levels, as well as weather forecasts. 

Ships are required to report to the VTS when passing certain waypoints, although pleasure craft are usually exempt from this requirement. 

You can call the VTS to ask for specific information (for example tide levels) – although by listening to the broadcasts and communications with other ships you will probably pick up most of what you need.  These are often busy radio stations.  You should avoid calling unless it is absolutely necessary or if you are required to report your passage of reporting points.  You should keep any messages professional, succinct and confined to the essentials – remember, all other ships in the port will be listening to you!

Maritime Safety Information (MSI), including weather, sea state and navigational warnings, is also available through broadcasts by the HM Coastguard, at published times on Channel 10, 23, 73, 84 or 86, after an announcement on Channel 16, if you are within range of a coastguard radio station.  This replaces the weather broadcasts previously made on Channel 67 (the small boat safety channel).

See also:

Buying a Boat
Hiring a Boat
Living Afloat

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