RYA – Marine Radio Short Range Certificate Course
I recently decided to attend an RYA VHF Radio Course to obtain my radio operators licence. The reason for this was three-fold. As you have probably guessed I sail a lot and up to now have not had to operate the radio except in an informal holiday situation. It was becoming apparent to me that if I needed to use it in an emergency situation I wasn’t sure I would know what to do. I could probably raise some help eventually, but I could waste precious time trying to work it out and worse still get it wrong. This could result in a bad situation becoming a lot worse. Secondly, I like to kayak too and have begun to feel slightly vulnerable with just a mobile phone to take with me. I would like to purchase a portable VHF. Thirdly it is a legal requirement to be certified if you own/use a VHF radio. So with the winter months upon us, I thought now was a good time to be classroom bound for a day.
A quick search on Goole came up with a few choices for local RYA training schools that ran a VHF course. I narrowed it down to Duck2Water who are based in Ocean Quay, Southampton. They have a great many reviews on Google and TripAdvisor, all of which seem very good. They have several courses running each month, a good sign that they are popular. Their pricing is also very competitive, so they were my training school of choice.
There was a bit of pre-course reading to be had in the way of the RYA VHF Handbook (supplied by the school). It’s about 3 hours of reading, pretty interesting and gets you familiar with the jargon before the day. Don’t worry if, like me, physics was never your strong point. I just don’t get the science behind radiowaves and VHF. You won’t need to know this bit of information for the course or exam.
We were classroom-based for the day, 8 participants in total ranging from sailors and kayakers to army personnel and rowers! Being the only woman I thought I would feel a little intimidated but I needn’t have worried. The instructor Brian made me feel very welcome as did the other participants.
We were all given working VHF radios that were also linked for DSC calling. Our first job was to familiarise ourselves with the radios and then set them up with given information. We could then start calling individuals and get to grips with the rules and regulations, prowords and nerves! I was surprised how nervous I felt at the beginning and noticed that I wasn’t alone in feeling this. I’m glad to say the nerves subsided the more we practised.
Brian worked through the syllabus injecting humorous anecdotes and situations into the day which made a dry, boring subject much more fun and enjoyable. In the afternoon we learned about issuing a mayday alert and had a chance to practice it. Because everyone gets a turn you soon become familiar with the procedure, prowords and noises!
Once we had finished the syllabus we were ready for the exam. This consisted of an A4 sheet with 16 questions and a total of 28 marks. Most of the questions are multiple-choice but there are a few which require written answers. We then had two practical tests, calling an individual using DSC and issuing a Mayday alert. I’m glad to say we all passed and left feeling much more confident about using the VHF both in everyday use and in an emergency situation. Whilst the RYA operators licence is valid for life if you took yours many years ago why not attend a course as a refresher. VHF radios have changed a lot over the years and the DSC function is a great addition which is wasted if you don’t know how to use it.
I would thoroughly recommend Duck2Water if you want to take your VHF Radio Course. They are well situated in Southampton near to Shamrock Quay and St Marys Stadium. Great if you are local but there were members of our group that had travelled from London and further afield too.
What a great way to fill a cold, wet, miserable November day.
Related Articles: How to send a Mayday Distress Call
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