VHF and Cell Phone questions we are ask all the time about VHF vs. your Cell Phone

Also see VHF Marine Radio Tips for more information on using your VHF Radio as well as Procedure Words (PROWORDS) and The Phonetic Alphabet.  The VHF Marine Radio Tips is also available in a two page printer friendly PDF file you can print and put on your boat.

Originally posted on BoatSafe Blog:

VHF RadioVHF Handheld radioThe Coast Guard does not advocate cell phones as a substitute for the regular maritime radio distress and safety systems recognized by the Federal Communications Commission and the International Radio Regulations — particularly VHF maritime radio. However, cell phones can have a place on board as an added measure of safety.


Cell phones generally cannot provide ship to ship safety communications or communications with rescue vessels. If you make a distress call on a cell phone, only the one party you call will be able to hear you.

Most cell phones are designed for a land-based service. Their coverage offshore is limited, and may change without notice. Most everyone has experienced communications out to about 25 miles at times. Yet at other times they could not get through to a land based phone inside of 10 miles from shore. This might well create a…

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