Confused with all the frequencies

Here is the long story:
I am getting my dad a Marine VHF (Icom) because he got a boat and I figured he would need it. My sister and I have Waverunners and usually we will go to the ocean or lake with all 3 watercraft. So I was thinking of getting an additional VHF for me & my sister to share. Problem is that from what I have read, you shouldn’t use VHF to “communicate” but rather for emergency purposes only. Is this true? We wouldn’t be able to radio my dad and ask what time he’s going back to the dock or if they are back at the camp,who’s getting dinner etc…?

If so, that would mean we would need carry 2 different radios: 1 VHF (emergencies only) and 1 two-way FRS/GMRS (communication)…right?

Thanks for your help,

No, no, no. There are several channels you can “chat” on.
CH.16 is the “calling” and “distress” channel. You can call someone then move to a different channel. Or you can just monitor one of the non-emergency, non-commercial channels.

The one thing you CANNOT do is communicate to anyone on land with a VHF marine radio. There are certain instances where it is permissible but only by special permission and if you show a need to. While GMRS/FRS has become a free-for-all as far as disregarding the rules, and the FCC ignoring this behavior, marine VHF radios are monitored MUCH more closely and folks DO get in trouble for violations.

Ch.9 is also a calling channel where you should not really “converse”, just hook up and move to another channel. Non-commercial channels are 68, 69, 71, 72.

Here is a good web page:

Thanks for your reply Speedy,
Great website! Full of info! I was trying to find a website like this and google’d forever without any luck. Thanks again=)

I have another question I am hoping you can help me with. For land communication, since the consumer grade radio’s states 5-25 mile range, which really means 1-2 miles, I was wondering if I can go out and buy “business” radio? Or do I need to actually have a business to be able to get service when I register with the FCC? We want to use them for mountain hikes and camping.

You’d need a business license to get on the business frequencies… HOWEVER, GMRS can be used with commercial grade equipment. Your GMRS license gives you the authority to operate at power levels of up to 50 watts, with handheld, base, or mobile installations.

Many commercial UHF radios are type-accepted for GMRS use. On my UHF amateur radio equipment, I can easily acheive 5 miles, so GMRS should be similar. On a base or mobile, expect these ranges to increase.

Thanks John,
I am looking at the Motorola T9580RS but I can’t find reviews. Is it a new model? I was trying to descide between the Motorola T9500 XLR and Midland GXCT850VP4 and found this new one. Any recomendations? Are these GMRS?

The 9580 shows a lower power output than the 9500. This is according to the FCC data. It looks like they went with the new Weather Service SAME system for weather alerts.

The GXT850 is a good, sturdy radio that would serve you well.

I’d see what you think of the reviews I posted and decide accordingly, if caught in a toss-up.

Hope they help


Great reviews John,
Many thanks for your help:)

Glad to help. :slight_smile: