VHF Transmitting On 65 and 78

I am in the process of installing a marine vhf radio in my home in order to communicate with our boat just offshore. I find that the radio receives on all channels very well but does not transmit on at least a couple channels, namely 65 and 78.

Anyone have a clue why this is so? I’ve tested the radio and it transmits on 68 73 etc. quite well. Is there any kind of special license or permit these days to transmit on those channels?


You are operating illegally. Unless you have a marina licence, you cannot operate a shore-based radio on marine VHF channels. I am guessing you are just randomly picking channels that come with a radio you bought on eBay and don’t have a marine operators licence. If you did, you would know the channels you are authorized to use.

Depending on what country you are operating in, one of those channels is a search and rescue channel on the Great Lakes. This means that you are not only operating illegally, but you are potentially interfering with life-saving activities.

This forum does not tolerate illegal operation of two-way radios.

1 Like

Since you don’t know that I am applying for a license, you’re making an ■■■ out of yourself. Congrats.

To obtain a licence, you need to take the operators course. The channels you are licenced to operate on are part of the course. Every country is different. If you actually are applying for a licence, you would know that. You already told us that you have been transmitting on channels you are not authorized to use, so that makes it illegal.

And it is also illegal to transmit from shore to boat in any country. I would humbly suggest that you find another forum to ask your questions.

Everyone reading this thread : please also read fcc 16-119 paragraph 25 - 28

It was amended in 2016 to allow shore operations up to three miles inland.

They did this to encourage boaters that are not required to have a radio for pleasure boating to use them.

License? In Pittsburgh everyone I know simply uses the boat registration ID to navigate locks and dams. But most prefer cellphone.

READ FCC 16-119 paragraph 25 , in fact read the whole thing!

Maybe I’m misinterpreting it , but tell me what you think it means, I’m not good with legalese.

Why not just use gmrs/ MURS ? Far less restricted and no license required for the 2watt bubble packs!

Specifically, as suggested by ACR, we will permit use of portable marine VHF radios only in areas adjacent to the water, such as docks and beaches. In addition, as suggested by RTCM, and consistent with our requirements for offshore use, onshore communications using such radios must relate to the operational and business needs of the associated vessel, and must be limited to the minimum practicable transmission time. We amend Section 80.115 accordingly. We caution operators that the Commission’s Enforcement Bureau will continue to investigate complaints against operators who improperly use marine VHF radios, particularly any violation that concerns unauthorized transmissions on 156.800 MHz (VHF Channel 16 ).

Found this on a sailboat forum.but most info on the net disagree with it and say shore operations are not permitted. So there seems to be two schools of thought on this matter, I’ve tried calling the fcc to clarify this but can’t get through

A radio licence for boats is still a requirement in Canada, the UK and many other countries.

Plus, all countries, including the U.S. still require a shore-based licence. Shore operations ARE permitted … with an appropriate licence.

In Canada, channel 65 is reserved for search and rescue on the Great Lakes. In the U.S., it is reserved for port operations of commercial vessels. I stand by what I said.

Small pleasure craft that are not required to have a radio are licensed by rule and are considered “voluntary ships”

Who Needs a Ship Station License

You do not need a license to operate a marine VHF radio, radar, or EPIRBs aboard voluntary ships operating domestically. The term “voluntary ships” refers to ships that are not required by law to carry a radio. Generally, this term applies to recreation or pleasure craft. The term “voluntary ships” does not apply to the following:

  1. Cargo ships over 300 gross tons navigating in the open sea;
  2. Ships certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to carry more than 6 passengers for hire in the open sea or tidewaters of the U.S.;
  3. Power driven ships over 20 meters in length on navigable waterways;
  4. Ships of more than 100 gross tons certified by the U.S. Coast Guard to carry at least one passenger on navigable waterways;
  5. Tow boats of more than 7.8 meters in length on navigable waterways; and,
  6. Uninspected commercial fishing industry vessels required to carry a VHF radio.
  7. Ships required to carry an Automatic Identification System (AIS) transceiver by the U.S. Coast Guard regulations enacted pursuant to the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2000.

Ships are considered as operating domestically when they do not travel to foreign ports or do not transmit radio communications to foreign stations. Sailing in international waters is permitted, so long as the previous conditions are met. If you travel to a foreign port (e.g., Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands), a license is required. Additionally, if you travel to a foreign port, you are required to have an operator permit.

Radio Equipment You May Use

You do not need a license to use marine VHF radios, any type of EPIRB, any type of radar, GPS or LORAN receivers, depth finders, CB radio, or amateur radio (an amateur license is required). Ships that use MF/HF single side-band radio, satellite communications, or telegraphy must continue to be licensed by the FCC.

Go to this fcc link above and tell them they’re wrong!

And here’s a good clarification of the shore use https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/47/80.115

Shore use is permitted as an associated unit of the ship on the water Which is licensed by rule , not individual license.

To the OP there may be channels that are used to broadcast bulletins that are receive only like the noaa channels. This may be why you can’t transmit

Thank you for the clarification . . . always good to know somebody does their homework.

You’re welcome, but I still highly recommend using a gmrs or MURS pair to have the freedom to discuss things that are not related to operations of the boat such as “what’s for dinner “ and such chit chat that would be prohibited using marine radios.

Plus you will have diversity, if your marine radio fails or falls into the water you’ll have a backup.

Associated ship unit is not a shore station when engaged in the operations of your own ship.That’s where all this confusion comes from. It’s a manner of usage and not a type of station.

A shore station does require a license and a good reason to have it such as refueling, towing or other services.

That’s my interpretation of part 80, After five hours of study . but as I’ve said there are two schools of thought on this. And I’m sure many will disagree and opposing viewpoints are welcome! If I’m wrong About this in any way I’d like to know about it!

Good research but still wrong about the shore licence. A radio in your home will still require a shore licence.

An “associated ship unit” is a ship’s handheld radio temporarily used in a tender boat or on a dock to help with docking maneuvers.

Plus, if you read further on the page from your five hours of study, you will see channel 65 is exclusively for port operations in the U.S., and Search and Rescue on the Great Lakes. I will therefore stand by what I said, based on 25 years of VHF and UHF experience and teaching a radio operators course.

You’re right inside a structure would not be legal, the three mile “proposal “ was not granted but I’m sure it does extend to at least the parking lot of a boat launch as the wording says beach and adjacent area to water.

Channel 65 ? I didn’t say a word contrary to your statement about that !

I simply answered his “original “ question about why it won’t transmit.

You were wrong about the license requirements for the boat and the foghorn-leghorn style needs to be a little nicer! I’ve seen that style drive newcomers away from ham radio for many years and it sets me off! They go away and never come back, That’s the only reason I jumped into this thread and spent my whole day in it with study!

I think for what the OP wants to do is better accomplished with MURS or GMRS bubble pack pair, much cheaper and more flexible and with just as much range on water

I have no issues with boaters using Marine VHF. Every boat should have one. I also have no issues with a second unit in the house to monitor calls. Nothing illegal about listening. Plus, in an emergency situation, no one is going to care about anyone transmitting from home. But, as he stated, he had already been transmitting on an illegal channel, potentially interfering with port operations or search and rescue operations.

I have issues with users who don’t bother getting a licence or taking a course and then transmitting on channels that will interfere with other users, especially if it may impact critical operations.

This forum is not here to provide advice on transmitting on illegal channels.

I also never said he needed a boat operator licence. I said you needed it in certain countries. Users on this forum are from around the world, and the laws in the U.S. are not the same as Canada or the U.K. Also, if you read my comments, you will note that a shore licence is required in all those countries, including the U.S. Therefore, I am still correct in everything I have said. Without knowing his location, no one can advise him on the licence requirement.

Not sure what this has to do with ham licences though. If someone bought an inexpensive amateur radio and then started transmitting on random channels, I am sure you would take issue with that.

I assumed he tested his radios on a test bench setup into dummy load. He didn’t say otherwise.

Yes I would and have objected to unlicensed ppl on ham. And have helped some of them “Get on the right track” By helping them pass the test. Rather than jump up and down about fcc regs. I simply point out that no one is allowed to talk to a bootlegger and that radio is worthless without a license and I show them how much fun they can have doing it right!

And that brings me to the root of all radio problems in all services, eBay selling ccrs as cb’s, frs/gmrs, hunter radios , ems/ fire radios and everything else.

In the seventies you had to produce a ham license before purchasing a rig. If you wanted a radio for your boat you went to a boat shop and received proper guidance.

But that changed when sales ppl quit caring about everything except making a sale.

That where all started going south. It morphed into a free for all

Anyone wanting to get into ham should contact a club first , join pass test, and let the club help you get started ( if you don’t have a radio they may give you one , they did for me)

Same with boat radio, see your boat dealer for it

Sorry for dragging this thread off topic , but I think it needed said. Thanks for all your help chickenhawk even though my interpretation is more liberal about shore use than yours.


I am in full agreement with everything you have said.

Except perhaps about sales people not caring. There are some good retailers out there. Some. Certainly not eBay as you mention.

Our forum hosts are a great example of responsible retailers. Retailers do not need to see a licence to sell a radio, but buytwowayradios go out of their way to help educate people.

I agree on CCRs, but I know you will agree that for all the bad things they do, CCRs brought a lot of people into the hobby (including myself) who would otherwise not have taken part.

But at some point in life, following regulations that may impact other people is a matter of personal ethics. I return my cart to the grocery store. I leave money on the pillow when I leave a hotel. I do these things when no one is looking because that is the way I was brought up and that is the way I raise my kids.

1 Like