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Author Topic: Marine radio usage  (Read 1265 times)

Posts: 15

« on: November 25, 2001, 08:22:11 PM »

I was wondering if it is legal to use a handheld (1 watt) marine radio on a non coastguard freq. For short range (about 2.5 mi) communications....btw here in raleigh, nc there are no bodies of water large enough to inhibit boat usage within the range of these radios...I know it dosent have anything to do with amateur freq.'s but i would appreciate your comments BTW they are fm and are on about 155 mhz and we are both hams

Posts: 15

« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2001, 08:53:11 PM »

actually only one of us is a ham (me) but I dont think it matters...

Posts: 1

« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2001, 09:00:26 PM »

As long as your not blocking marine communications or transmitting on a channel you're not supposed to (ie. 16) its perfectly legal...however you might want to ask "is this frequency in use" before transmitting...check you're owners manual (if you still have it) for details on what channels you can use

Posts: 939

« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2001, 11:02:59 PM »

The answer is: It is ILLEGAL!!!!!
The marine vhf frequencies are for "maritime use"!!!
{That is: boats, bridge operations, "selected" shore stations (properly licensed), etc...}
The USCG (US Coast Guard) does use these freq for "notices to mariners", weather broadcasts, search and rescue operations, etc.... (and sometimes for USCG
ship-ship, ship-aircraft, and ship-shore communications)...But other than those specific times,
you'll not find the USCG transmitting BUT they are listening!!!! And I can tell you, they listen a LOT!!
I've met many Coasties (US Coast Guardsmen) and even had a cool drink (iced tea) with some SAR (search and rescue) pilots in the islands years ago ~~~ they're listening!!!! A LOT MORE THAN YOU'LL EVER KNOW!!!
These guys fly long range survailance of smugglers, as well as monitor international shipping, etc...
VHF HT's can (and do) have the range to disrupt vital communications... esp. to/from USCG aircraft!!!!
How would you feel if you found out that a USCG helo and C-130 couldn't coordinate a rescue properly because
of radio interference, and someone DIED just miles off shore, maybe even on inshore waters, inside the outer banks!!!
I sail on the high seas.... and as a young kid (13 years old) I did bootleg on the hf ham bands..(while at sea)....
 I used good operating practice and although it was known that I was NOT licensed, no one on the air cared as long as I was at sea and was using this as primary communications... A HF net control station in Moroco
actually advised me to use another callsign.. He suggested a Cnandian V0 call.... Right on the air!!!
BUT I NEVER and would NEVER use maritime freq for anything else!!! And I'd NEVER bootleg on a "marine freq"!!!! (Even if you think no one will hear you.. some one will... and the FCC takes a VERY particular interest in these "public safety" frequencies!!!! Especially since Sept. 11, 2001 ~~~ Trust me, they WILL find you!!!!)
Why am I telling this to you (AND everyone else)Huh
It is because I REALLY REALLY want you to use anything
but a marine radio!!!!!!
As a LONG TIME ocean sailor and ham operator, I plead with you to PLEASE PLEASE find another radio to use!!!!
{although I don't encourage bootleg/illegal operation on amateur freq ~~~ I'd rather you use the ham bands, than the marine freq!!!!)

There are other bands that you can use, legally...
11 meters seems like the place to start...
OR try a GMRS (uhf "CB Rdaio")....
You might finds that the FRS (family radio service) HT's will work, over open ground you could get 2 miles out of them....
Or you could use a cell phone....
OR you could try Nextel "Direct Connect".....

I just don't quite understand who, why, where, or how you need to communicate with someone that is 2 miles away and you can't call him on the phone?Huh

I have friends that use 11 meter CB and FRS radios while hunting in the forest.... (they are NOT hams...)
I have non-ham friends that I'd like to talk to, and sometimes I call them on the phone, sometimes I stop by there house, sometimes I send them an e-mail....
I hope you get the point here!!!!!!!!!!

Ren, in case you're wondering how you "get" to use those marine freq ~~~ the answer is you need to apply for a shore station license, for a very specfic reason,  such as a yacht club, marina, fishery, etc...
AND have a commercial radio operators license as well..
(although I think a "restricted radiotelephone permit might be acceptable nowadays)
BUT you'll NEVER get one to talk to some guy 2 miles away.....

I could go on and on.... ranting and raving.... but I won't!!!

Just last week you were asking questions about using "10 meter radios"... and I tried to help (taking you at your word, that you are a licensed ham)... And I tried to convince you to seek someone local that could act as your elmer.... PLEASE try to find someone that can steer you correctly!!!!
I advised you to contact the VE (volunteer examiner) that gave you your test and ask him for some newcomer's help....
I wonder if you did?Huh?

Well in any case, I hope that you'll heed my caution!

John,  KA4WJA


Posts: 939

« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2001, 11:12:20 PM »

One more point...
The use of modified ham radios on these "marine freq"
is strictly illegal as well!!!! (even if you're on your boat, on the water, and have the proper boat/station license... it's still illegal!!!)

AND most of these ham HT's don't have the oscillator
stability to work properly... Nor are set up for the correct freq deviations, etc....

The bottom line: It's illegal and it doesn't work very well at all anyway!!!!

John, KA4WJA

Posts: 3160

« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2001, 12:34:17 PM »

IS this still going on?  (Like urban legends these activities still occur)

I was in the Chicago FCC office during the 1970's this was a popular license for the CB crowd desiring another radio frequency - but didn't want to take the amateur test (code).

Needless to say, with Chicago being one of the largest private boat harbors in the summer ... these operators did not stay on the marine frequencies for long.


Posts: 3160

« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2001, 12:36:36 PM »

The FRS service (yes its FM and has proper range) was designed and allocated by the FCC for your exact operation and requirement.  Go down to Circuit City, Best Buy, radio Chack or large electronics chain .. they should have 2 or 3 models to choose from.


Posts: 35

« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2001, 05:50:06 PM »

NO! Don't do it!  You are just asking for more trouble than you can convieniently "handle."  You may be able to "get away with it" for some time but it is illegal and if you cause trouble, you will be hunted down.

What you are looking for is MURS  Multi Use Radio Service.  You can find out all about it by going to "Google" and typing "MURS Radio".  You will find out what kind of radios are allowed (2W max) on frequencies of:
Channel (MHz)

151.820 MHz
151.880 MHz
151.940 MHz
154.570 MHz
154.600 MHz

What modulation types are permitted and just about every thing you need to know at the sites this search will turn up.  This is in the old biz band and these radios (usually single or dual channel) are available cheep almost everywhere.

If you decide to go this way, I'd advise you to listen on the various frequencies before you decide which to get a radio for.

Posts: 75


« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2001, 05:11:22 AM »

From the FCC website <>...


You must have a special license, called a marine utility station license, to operate a hand-held marine radio from land -- a ship station license IS NOT sufficient. You may apply for this license by filing FCC Form 503 with the FCC. To be eligible for a marine utility station license, you must generally provide some sort of service to ships or have control over a bridge or waterway. Additionally, you must show a need to communicate using hand-held portable equipment from both a ship and from coast locations. Each unit must be capable of operation while being hand-carried by an individual. The station operates under the rules applicable to ship stations when the unit is aboard a ship, and under the rules applicable to private coast stations when the unit is on land. "

Check out Part 80 rules at: <>

Personally, I would avoid using Marine VHF on land. I suppose it would be okay to have a Marine VHF rig in the shack, to be able to communicate with boats. This is even more important if you participate in a ham emergency group and live in a marine community. Just try not to TX, except as needed. Remember, the FCC will almost always allow rules to be broken when human lives can be saved. If someone's ship is sinking, they don't care if the person on the other end is a licenced station or not.

As others have mentioned, there are better ways for your usage. There's FRS, GMRS, CB and MURS.

MURS would be best for this. If the Marine HT's you are using are crystal type, you might even re-crystal to the MURS band. The only bad part, is that they probably will lose part-type acceptance in the process. And, that is just one more thing the FCC could nail you one. Now I'm wondering why I even suggested this. Just make sure you use 1 watt, NOT 5 or 25, okay?

Of course, for the price of recrystaling, you could have bought a MURS HT that IS type accepted. Some potential HT's include Motorola Spirit/Spirit Pro/SV10/SV11/SV12/Radius SP10, etc. Remember, these will only tune to the 154.570 (blue) and 154.600 (green) MURS frequncies. These do so with dip switches under the battery compartment. Quite handy! All other frequencies the radios can be programmed to will need a licence to TX on. Honest.

Think of it as "an investment in happiness." That happiness coming from the FCC _not_ bothering you.

Best yet, help your friend get the tech class. Then, you can communicate with as much power that provides a reliable signal. Though, for VHF/UHF, anything over 200W is overkill for 98% of situations. Really, I mean, you are going two miles!

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