Users Advisory - Cellular Phone
Cellular Telephones Onboard With the
popularity of the cellular telephones more and more people are using them on board their
boats. However, since most cellular phones are designed for land based service, the coverage offshore is limited and may change
without notice. Most everyone has experienced communications out to about 25 miles at times. Yet at other times could not get
through to a land based phone inside of 10 miles from shore. This might well create a communications problem in the event of an
emergency at sea.
In general, cellular phones cannot provide proper communications with rescue vessels. A distress call can only be heard by the one
party you call. To help remedy this problem some providers have established a code ( *CG ), which if you are in range , will connect
you directly to the Coast Guard Operations Center. Keep in mind, however, that this service may only work with certain subscribed
Thus, the Coast Guard does not advocate cellular phones as a substitute for the regular maritime radio distress and safety systems
recognized by the Federal Communications Commission and the International Radio Regulations, namely the VHF radio. There is
very little comparison between the two as they are designed for very different services.
Cellular phones can have a place aboard as an added measure of safety. They also provide a convenient and private way to make
personal calls to home, office, another boat, etc. It is a personal link with shore based phones and other cellular phones. By adding
an external antenna on board for your cellular phone you can increase its performance to better suit your needs. Antennas are
available in three (3’-0") foot and eight (8’-0") foot sizes.
A VHF radio is an important piece of equipment that every boat should have on board. The VHF is intended to be used on boats,
ships, and other marine related installations. The VHF radios were made with safety in mind. If you are in distress, calls can be
received by the Coast Guard and all other ships which may be in position to provide immediate assistance. The VHF radio will also
provide up to date weather broadcasts that feature storm warnings and other important marine information broadcast. These
broadcasts are announced on channel 16 and the timely receipt of these broadcasts might well be the difference that may save lives.
Cellular phone conversations are private and one to one. The VHF radio conversations are not and they are intended for everyone
within range to hear your broadcast and this is a very important difference.
Telephone communications are possible with the VHF radio through the Marine Operator. These calls are not private and if one is
expecting a phone call through the Marine Operator a continual monitoring of Channel 16 is required or the call will be missed.
Remember a cell phone should never be used in place of a VHF radio, but as an additional means of communication while on the