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The ability to communicate from your boat is vital. Always carry at least TWO reliable forms of communication.

Marine VHF radio

A hand-held waterproof marine VHF radio is one of the cheapest and most reliable forms of communication currently available to boaties. Using a VHF radio means that other vessels in the area will often hear a distress message and be the first on the scene.

Every boat with a VHF radio should stay tuned to Channel 16, the distress channel, while at sea to provide the best possible safety network for all.

Many boaties have a fixed VHF radio. If the radio or battery is swamped, it stops working instantly – so a reliable alternative means of communication is essential.

Use your VHF radio to file a trip report with Maritime NZ radio or your local Coastguard, letting them know where you are going, how many people on board and when you expect to return. Don’t forget to cancel your trip report when you return safely.

Check here for Marine Channels

Check here for distress calling information


This is not a suitable substitute for a handheld VHF radio, however a cellphone can be useful. Keep it in a sealed plastic bag and in your pocket. Do not remove it from the bag, the plastic will not affect its use and provides essential protection from moisture.


A distress beacon will also greatly increases your chances of rescue.

Visual communication

Flares are very effective, widely recognised and should be carried by all boats.

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