Marine VHF radio is a worldwide system of two way radio transceivers on ships and watercraft used for bidirectional voice communication from ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore (for example with harbormasters), and in certain circumstances ship-to-aircraft.
It uses FM channels in the very high frequency (VHF) radio band in the frequency range between 156 and 174 MHz, inclusive.
Freedom Boat Clubs Guide to VHF Radio Channels
Channel 16 VHF (156.8 MHz) is a marine VHF radio frequency designated as an international distress frequency.
Primarily intended for distress, urgency and safety priority calls, the frequency may also carry routine calls used to establish communication before switching to another working channel.
EPIRB stands for Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. This is a battery powered radio transmitter designed to release and float free from a sinking ship and to send an automatic distress signal. Over 500,000 EPIRBs have been installed world-wide, operating in the 406MHz frequency band. These EPIRBs relay their messages to ground stations via the COSPAS-SARSAT satellite network. The distress messages are then passed on the nearest Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) to come to the aid of the survivors.
Should I carry an EPIRB on my boat?
Yes, if you are likely to take your vessel beyond the reliable coverage area of coastal VHF stations. This coverage may extend to 60 nautical miles, depending on the height of the shorebased antennas, but remember that if your vessel does not have a high antenna, or if you rely on a hand-held VHF, the range may be less than 10 nautical miles. Marine band VHF does not work ‘over the horizon’, so however much power you transmit, the range will be limited by the curvature of the earth.
A yacht which is dismasted, and any vessel which loses its main power source due to an electrical fault, fire, or flooding, will probably have to resort to hand-held VHF (if the battery is charged!), or have no means for communication with shore stations.
Check these lists and find the best VHF Marine Radio for you