Feb 06, 2020

How To Make A Mayday Call On A VHF

When you need help, every second counts.

The goal is to broadcast the most important information as quickly and clearly as possible.

If you have a DSC-equipped radio, flip up the cover on the DSC button and press the button for 3 to 5 seconds. Some radios will allow you to choose your problem from a list (Fire/Explosion, Flooding, Collision, Grounding, Capsizing, Sinking, Adrift, Abandoning Ship, Piracy, Man Overboard) so that vessels receiving your transmission will automatically know what happened. After the radio transmits your position, MMSI number, and the nature of your distress, it will revert to Channel 16 so you can make a voice transmission.

Icom IC M422 VHF marine radio

The regulations require a two-step process to send a DSC distress call, so most radios will have a spring-loaded red cover over a red button. Press and hold for 5 seconds.

If you don't have a DSC-equipped radio, select Channel 16 and high power (25W), press the transmit button, and say the following:

"Mayday!, Mayday!, Mayday!" (Urgency word three times.)

"This is the vessel Surprise, Surprise, Surprise." (Vessel name three times.)

"Mayday Surprise."

"We are located at ..." [insert latitude and longitude of your location]

"Surprise is a 38-foot yawl with a blue hull and a tan deck." [Description of vessel.]

"We are taking on water, and we cannot find the leak. We request immediate assistance." [Nature of the emergency.]

"There are six crew on board. We have a life raft, EPIRB, and life jackets." [Number of crew and information on safety equipment.]

"This is the vessel Surprise standing by on Channel 16."