A variety of communications equipment can be used on the water - make sure you carry at least two that will work when wet.

Communications equipment is an essential part of safe boating

two men are sitting in a dingy that is moored to a wharf. one of the men is holding up a personal locator beacon in his left hand.

Different types of communications equipment work in different areas, so make sure the equipment you have will work where you are boating.

You should carry at least two types that will work when wet.

Our boating expert talks about carrying two waterproof ways to call for help before you head out on the water.

Your guide to communication

A helpful resource and a must for every skipper.

In this handbook:

learn the correct procedures for communicating

find information about coverage and services

find useful contacts and a glossary

two stickers for quick reference

Request print copyDownload as a PDF


How to call for help

If you are in imminent danger and need immediate help, radio a distress call.

Making a mayday call

There are also low-tech ways of getting attention. You can use or do any of the following:

  • a horn to make noise
  • a torch to wave, flash or signal SOS
  • a red flag
  • your arms - raising and lowering your arms is recognised internationally as a distress signal

Related information:

VHF channels

This sticker lists the major VHF channels.

[PDF: 110KB, 1 page]


Boating courses

Coastguard offers a range of courses for kayakers, skippers, radio operators and more.

See all courses