A VHF marine radio is used by inland and off-shore boaters to communicate with other boaters by way of designated recreational channels and, more importantly, to call for help. Channel 16 is the universally designated channel across North America for May Day and Pan Pan emergency calls. In this video, American Canoe Association instructor and frequent Kayak Angler contributor Jeff “Birdsnest” Herman shares tips on proper use of a VHF marine radio and the differences in how to call for assistance. He explains that, “May Day, May Day, May Day” is a call-sign for emergencies that are life-threatening, where consequences considered fatal. “Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan, Pan-Pan” is a call-sign to be used in an emergency where assistance is required, though the consequences are not considered fatal; for instance losing your paddle and being swept out to sea.
Please Note: A radio operators’ license is required by both the FCC in the United States and Transport Canada. For information on licensing requirements for the United States see here and for Canada see here.
This video first appeared in the Summer/Fall 2015 print issue of Kayak Angler magazine as a digital edition. For more great kayak fishing content, subscribe to Kayak Angler’s print editions and digital editions, download issues on your device or view this issue for free on your desktop.