Hopefully, there won't be a time when you'll need to contact the United States Coast Guard (USCG) due to an emergency aboard your vessel. However, it's always good to know how to get in touch with the USCG in the event of an emergency, such as a boat collision or a medical issue for one of your crew members that requires speedy transportation to the shore.
There are three principle ways that you can contact the USCG, although only two of them are recommended if you are in distress:
- By Phone: You can call them on your cell phone, if you have service, simply by dialing 911. Once you tell the dispatcher that you are at sea or on a lake, they will immediately forward your call to UCSG (or the lake policing authority, if they have immediate jurisdiction). Of course, cell phones don't always have service when you are far away from shore, so this will only work if you are within a few miles of the coast.
- Using your VHF radio: Channel 16 on VHF frequencies is reserved for USCG communications. If you're in distress, hold your transmit button and say "Mayday" three times. Then provide all necessary information about your status and location, including the vessel name, your position, the nature of your emergency and the number of people who are on board. Once you make the call, wait 10 seconds. If you don't receive a response, keep repeating the call.
Of course, you'll have a much easier time contact the USCG if you have a marine radio on board that is reliable. If you're in need of new communication equipment for your boat, make sure to browse ePal's online store today for the latest deals.