When Operating a VHF Marine Radio When Should the Term Mayday be Used?

When operating a VHF Marine Radio when should the term Mayday be used? This is significant and we should not overlook it. Mayday calls are made on Channel 16 and not intended for casual discussion.

Mayday is an international code word used as a distress signal in radio-wave voice communication. It is derived from the French phrase “venez m’aider,” which means “come help me.” Many entities, including police forces, pilots, firemen, and transportation companies, utilize it to signify a life-threatening situation. The word ‘mayday’ is repeated three times. After that, you need to express your emergency circumstances.

Every ship’s captain should think about calling for assistance and have a clear plan in place to ensure the safety of everybody on board.

Why Is a VHF (Very High Frequency) Marine Radio Required?


They are for by boaters for the reasons listed:

  • They serve as simple lifesavers.
  • More efficient than phones.
  • They have steady reception.
  • When used on recreational boats, no license is necessary.
  • We may find VHF signals even in misty places.

When Is It Appropriate to Issue a Mayday Message?

A Mayday call is made if you’re in an extreme emergency that cannot be controlled and need quick assistance.

However, keep in mind that the Coast Guard will respond with a heavy force and support equipment when you issue a Mayday call. It takes a lot of planning and money, so make sure you examine your circumstances appropriately to prevent making a wrong decision. Here are several examples:

  • When the vessel sinks.
  • When there’s fire onboard.
  • When a ship becomes stuck in bad weather.
  • When there are medical

How to Make a VHF Radio Mayday Call

There are specific protocols to make a Mayday call accurately and promptly.

Please see this video for further information and a demonstration:

  • Turn your radio to full power and choose VHF: Channel 16
  • Say clearly:
  • “Hello, this is [name of your boat].” three times
  • “MAYDAY [vessel name and callsign].”
  • “[Describe in detail the difficulty encountered and the support requested].”
  • “[Any further information, such as how many people are on board, the type of the boat, the liferaft or dinghy carried].”
  • “Over.”

Allow a brief response time and listen on the same frequency for an acknowledgment.

If no one responds

Repeat the call, making your way through all of the frequency of discomfort on the radio.

If a shore station is contacted

Inform them that you have turned on your distress beacon and follow their directions.

If You Make an Unintentional Radio Signal

  • Don’t be alarmed.
  • Turn the radio off and on again. This will halt the transmission of the distress signal.
  • Choose Channel 16 and broadcast an audio message stating that you placed an unintentional radio signal.
  • Keep an eye on Channel 16.

Performing a DSC Test Call

  • DO NOT use the distribution button.
  • Determine the MMSI of a buddy or a shore station.
  • Enter the MMSI that you want to call.
  • Select a functional channel (NOT Channel 16)
  • Choose “Routine Call” from the list of DSC calls on your radio.
  • Press the “Enter” key.

Q&A About the Mayday call


What is the distinction between a Mayday and a Pan-Pan call?

The Mayday call differs from the Pan-Pan call in terms of the crisis’s severity; the former is used in emergencies if someone is gravely hurt or many people’s lives are at risk. Pan-pan calls are also used when assistance is required, but not immediately. For example, when the ship is slowly leaking because of an engine failure but the leakage can be controlled.

How to make a Pan-pan call?

  • Warning of impending danger “Pan-Pan” was played three times.
  • If a boat or crew is in trouble, but the issue is not life-threatening, an urgent message is sent, followed by an appeal for assistance.
  • It is used to attract the attention of other boats.


What are your opinions on this article on when operating a VHF Marine Radio when should the term Mayday be used? Please leave a comment below.

Overall, the above explanation has offered some essential information concerning Mayday calls, including when and how to make one. If you operate a VHF marine radio, perhaps this article will assist you in making effective calls and avoiding all harmful circumstances. Thanks for reading!

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