top of page

Emergencies can go from bad to worse in seconds so try to get as much information across in as little time as possible

Marine radios are essential safety equipment and can be the only way to:

communicate with other boats or marine rescue groups

receive navigational warnings and weather updates.

Marine radios are essential safety equipment and can be the only way to:

  • communicate with other boats or marine rescue groups


  • receive navigational warnings and weather updates


All Skippers and crew should know:

  • how to operate all marine radios on board your vessel


  • the distress and safety frequencies


  • how to properly format and transmit distress and safety messages

Licences & Certificates

Under federal regulations, you need an operating certificate to use a VHF and HF radio.

SEQUEST also provides radio courses or can tell you where a local course is available. More information about the licensing of radios and operators can be found on the Australian Communications and Media Authority website

Coastal Distress Marine Radio Network

Maritime Safety Queensland has a 24-hour listening watch service to cover most of the adjacent coastal waters between Cooktown and the New South Wales border on VHF channels 16 and 67 for distress and urgency calls.

Volunteer marine rescue organisations (Australian Volunteer Coast Guard and Volunteer Marine Rescue) play an important role in delivering the coastal distress marine radio network service. They maintain a listening watch during their operating hours, which is then handed over to Maritime Safety Queensland vessel traffic service centres after hours

Logging On & Logging Off

All watercraft users should Log On & Log Off with their nearest Marine Rescue or Coast Guard unit whenever they head out on the water.

This is a simple process that lets them know when you’re leaving, where you’re heading and when you expect to return.

This way, someone responsible knows that you’re out on your boat and that you’ve returned safely at the end of your trip.

If you don’t Log Off, they can take steps to try to find you to ensure you are safe.

Here are a few FAQs to help you!


Do I have to be a member of VMR or Coast Guard to use a log-on service?

No! The service is free of charge for all members of the public


I have a kayak or canoe, can I log on/off when heading out?

Yes! Simply provide a call sign that you wish to be addressed by to identify you


I'm on a jet ski. Can I log on & off too?

100% yes! In fact, it is highly encouraged that jetski riders log their journeys


Do you need a radio to log on/off?

No! You can call your nearest unit and speak to radio operators that can log your trip by phone, as well as guide you through the log-on/off process


Is the log-on & off service only for vessels going offshore?

No! All vessels, no matter their destination, can use this service

I recently brought a DSC radio where can I apply for an MMSI number?

Apply here


Check your radio equipment

Have you checked your radio equipment?
• Is the correct frequency/channel selected?
• Is the volume and squelch adjusted correctly?
• Is the RF gain set to maximum sensitivity?
• Power supply – is the battery fully charged?
• Antenna – are the leads and whip intact, not corroded, with proper earthing and good connections

Safety Tips
• Carrying a VHF radio when boating can be an added safety measure. It means other boats in the area can hear a distress call if there is an emergency always keep a listening watch on VHF channel 16 
• Mobile phones are only good as a backup for marine communications. They can easily be out of range or have a flat battery
• Listen before transmitting on the radio
• The battery terminals and other connections on all radio equipment should be checked regularly and cleaned. For better communications, all radio equipment should be connected directly to the battery


Marine Radio Emergency Procedures

How to call for help on marine radio 

Distress call

Distress messages are prefixed with the word "MAYDAY" repeated three times and only should be used If in a grave and imminent life-threatening situation.

Urgency call 

Urgency messages are prefixed with the word "PAN PAN" repeated three times and should only be used when you or your vessel are not in grave and imminent danger.

Safety Call

Safety messages are prefixed with the word "SECURITE" repeated three times (pronounced as SAY-CURE-E-TAY) is used when a station or ship wants to pass important information concerning safety such as navigational or weather warnings.

Mayday Relay

If you become aware of a vessel in distress warranting a Mayday call and you do not hear one (their radio may be out of service for some reason), you can transmit a distress message on their behalf.

This is called a "Mayday Relay"

The format for this:

1. The distress relay signal "Mayday Relay"  is spoken three times;

2. The words “this is”

3. Your vessel’s name and callsign, spoken 3 times;

4. Followed by the words “Mayday Relay” followed by the nameposition of the distress vessel, the nature of the distress and any other pertinent information, followed by “Over”.

Here is a helpful site on radio procedures 


Remember having the right safety equipment on your boat and knowing how to use it is essential. This could save your life in an emergency.

What safety equipment do I need?

There are 3 types of safety equipment for boats registered in Queensland: 

The safety equipment you're required to carry depends on the size of your boat, whether the boat needs to be registered and where you're operating.

Some boats (also known as prescribed by other Queensland-regulated ships) may be required to carry additional or specific types of safety equipment such as those required under the national system.

To comply with your General Safety Obligation you should carry the appropriate safety equipment for the waters where you will be boating. This will ensure you are prepared for an emergency or any unexpected events.

bottom of page