HF Radio

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WorldHF_RadioHF Radio


HF, or high frequency, radios provide communication beyond the range of the traditional VHF radio that many mariners rely on in coastal waters. VHF radios are typically limited to near 30 miles of range while HF radios can cover thousands of miles. There are generally two ways to take advantage of the HF spectrum while at sea: Marine Radio and Amateur Radio. Both have benefits and drawbacks. It should be noted that while we identify these radios as HF they typically include MF or medium frequency coverage as well. MF frequencies are especially important in the marine bands as they are the primary means of communicating with shore emergency services, such as the Coast Guard, when operating within 250 miles of the shore, in accordance with GMDSS.

Marine HF radio is also called SSB in some sailing circles. SSB, however, identifies the modulation of the transmission and not the actual frequencies used. This would be akin to calling your VHF radio your FM radio.

Because HF communications are a bit less straight forward than VHF communications links below are provided to help break down the topic a bit.

Basic Radio Procedures

See Radio Calling Procedure. This applies to routine and distress calls for both HF Radio and VHF Radio, any differences are noted.

Equipment Check

  • Is the correct frequency/channel selected?
  • Is the volume adjusted correctly?
  • Is the 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, have proper earthing and connections in good order?
  • Listen before transmitting to ensure you have a clear channel

See Also


  • John C. Payne, Marine Electrical & Electronics Bible, Sheridan House, ISBN 1574090607


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)


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