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There are all kinds of rules and federal regulations about the use of your marine vhf radio, but most of those are for big ports and very busy bodies of water. You can and should read all about them if your thinking of boating to Portland. You can find links to the complete rules on other sites found on our links page.

On Dworshak it is quite simple. Almost everyone, including the sheriff's office monitors channel 16. You call or hail a boat on channel 16 and switch to another channel to have your conversation.

On Dworshak after initial contact on channel 16, the channels to switch to for general info exchange / recreational use are: 68, 69, 71, 72 or 78

You can find weather information of channel 1 or 5.


"This is the (your boat type and boat name or your name) calling the (boat or person your calling name)."

Actual conversation:

Houseboat MaryLou: "This is the houseboat MaryLou calling the houseboat Serendipity...."

Houseboat Serendipity: "Hello MaryLou, this is the houseboat Serendipity"

Houseboat MaryLou: "Switch to channel 68"

Both of you switch to 68 and exchange your information. Generally short and to the point conversations are made, it is customary not to chat at length about everything under the sun.

At the conclusion of the call... "This is the MaryLou going back to 16" and the other boat generally reciprocates "This is the Serendipity going back to 16"


Power. Your radio may have the capability of broadcasting at 1 watt or 25 watts. Try the lower wattage first if the station being called is within a few miles. If there is no answer, you may switch to higher power.

Limits on calling. You shouldn't call the same station for more than 30 seconds at a time. If you do not get a reply, wait at least two minutes before calling again. After three calling periods, wait at least 15 minutes before calling again.

Change channels. After contacting another station on Channel 16, change to a channel other than 16...and complete your conversation.



False distress or emergency messages.

Messages containing obscene, indecent, or profane words or meaning.

General calls, signals, or messages on channel 16, except in an emergency or if you are testing your radio (these are messages not addressed to a particular station), or

When your ship is on land (for example, while the ship is on a trailer).


Make sure your radio is on.

Select VHF Channel 16 (156.8 MHz).

Press the microphone button and speak slowly -- clearly -- calmly and try and hail the county sheriff. Be prepared to give them the information listed below in the by the book section...


"This is your (boat name) calling the Clearwater County Sheriff"

They will respond and take it from there.....

If you can't raise the Sheriff you can also ask anyone to respond if you need help..that is why we all monitor channel 16.

"This is your (boat name), can anyone hear me, I need help."


By the Book, (like if your being eaten by a giant shark...or you have a major wreck, explosion)

Press the microphone button and say: "MAYDAY --MAYDAY-- MAYDAY."

Say "THIS IS [your ship ID]."

Tell where you are: (what navigational aids or landmarks are near).

State the nature of your distress

Give number of persons aboard and conditions of any injured.

Estimate present seaworthiness of your ship.

Briefly describe your ship (meters, type, color, hull).

Say: I will be listening on Channel 16."

End message by saying "THIS IS [your ship name or call sign] OVER."

Release microphone button and listen. Someone should answer. If not, repeat call, beginning at Item 3 above.

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