When Operating A VHF Marine Radio When Should The Term Mayday Be Used?

If you’re a boater or someone who spend the most time on the seawater, you may frequently notice this message “Mayday,” and if you don’t know why this message is used, you may ask the same question: 

When Operating A VHF Marine Radio When Should The Term Mayday Be Used? 

The short answer to this common question is: “Mayday” is a distress signal that requires the most urgent response. This particular message is only used when a boater or person is cautioned by imminent jeopardy.

When Should The Term Mayday Be Used? 

Since the term “Mayday” is a special message only for emergencies, you should be serious about this signal message. Our recommendation is you only use the message in the event of any emergencies. 

Some examples are when you can use the term “Mayday.”

  • If you lose your boat’s control after heavy rains
  • If you are damaged due to excess hail
  • If your boat collides with a heavy rock
  • If any of those who are in your boat becomes very ill and need immediate help
  • Low oil pressure
  • If any of you are missing
  • Running out of fuel
  • Fire aboard
  • And something like these issues

Tips to make a “Mayday” Emergency Call With Your VHF Radio:

Since the procedures of making an emergency call require proper knowledge, you should follow some tips to make the call mistake-free. 

To make a good call with your VHF radio, you first need to know to open the VHF device to channel 16, not another channel, and select the high power for better results. 

And then key the mike by hitting your device’s talk button and say “Mayday” for the free time and also say your current position, for example, say like this: 

  • I’m (Your Name)
  • Our position is 20:35′ north and 60:45′ west
  • We’re in a dangerous situation
  • We’re almost lost our control over the boat
  • We’re ten people in the boat

When saying the message, you should notice some points: follow them below!

  1. When saying the “Mayday” message, try to speak clearly and a little bit slower. 
  2. If you notice that no one responds to your message immediately, try to keep saying the same signal frequently.
  3. If someone responds to your signal and you have enough time, it would be good to describe your boat and how many are aboard so that the rescuer can get an overall idea about you and the current situation.
  4. Don’t talk too much.
  5. Don’t forget to mention your current position. (For the issue, we always recommend using a GPS to get the accurate location but unfortunately, if you fail to give this information, keep remembering where you’re by seeing around you and share that information as accurate as possible) 
  6. If someone unconventionally gets injured, try to mention that, Rescuers may bring some emergency medicine to treat him separately.
  7. Keep your mouth close to your VHF radio speaker while sending the message.
  8. For safety reasons, you can tell everyone to wear PFDs before making a mayday call.
  9. Don’t use channel 16 for other purposes, such as checking your VHF radio. 
  10. Don’t use 1 watt or lower watts when transmitting an emergency call. Select as highest power possible.
  11. If you receive an emergency call from others, keep quiet and listen to what the person is in trouble saying.

Notices: The US Coast Guard said that almost 90% of DSC calls do not contain position information, and almost 60% do not contain a valid registered identity. It may be the call maker’s ignorance, and this is why you should follow the shared tips!

Frequently Asked Questions are listed below!

In the below section, we have tried to pick some commonly asked questions from google and succinctly answered them. Hopefully, you’ll benefit from them!

Which VHF marine radio channel should be used to make a mayday call?

Channel 16 is the all-in-one channel used for all kinds of emergencies. You have to start your marine VHF radio and select channel 16 and say “Mayday” three times to make the call. 

How do you respond to Mayday?

Once your emergency call is received by one of the rescuers, you should tell your name first and the current location of your boat, and the longitude numbers from your GPS, and show a proper reason why you need an assistant!

What VHF channels can boaters use?

For ordinary conversations, boaters can always use channels 68, 69, 71, 72, and 78A. These channels are primarily marked as non-commercial channels that anyone can use on the seawater.

Why do you say Mayday 3 times?

Because the term “Mayday” is essential and it requires the message to be repeated three times to prevent it from being mistaken for some similar-sounding speech under loud circumstances.

When operating your vessel, which channel must you monitor?

Monitoring channel 16 is a must and essential when using a VHF marine radio on the boat or vessel because the channel is not for communicating with each other. This channel is only used for emergencies. When a person faces a problem, he can send his message via channel 16. If you hear such a call, you should take a step to save him.


When Operating A VHF Marine Radio When Should The Term Mayday Be Used? Although answering the question was relatively easy, we think following the tips that we have shared in the post would be hard for you. 

Because most people forget to share their current position when they try to make a “Mayday” call, and some even forget to use a GPS to their boat! 

We hope, from today, you’ll remember all the important things and stay safe in the water!