Marine VHF radio is in use on large ships and most seagoing small craft. It is also used, on rivers and lakes for a wide variety of purposes, including summoning rescue services and communicating with harbours, locks, bridges and marinas.
A marine VHF (Very High Frequency) set is a combined transmitter and receiver and only operates on standard, international frequencies known as channels. Channel 16 (156.8 MHz) is the international calling and distress channel. Transmission power ranges between 1 and 25 watts covering distances up to 25 Nautical Miles or 40 Km between antennas fixed on ships or on top of land towers. While fixed stations may be subject to licensing requirements, some maritime mobile and hand-held two-way radios are exempt. However, anyone who operates a marine radio must have taken competency training and hold an Operator’s Restricted Radio Certificate – Maritime. While Canadian ship and pleasure craft owners & operators are not legally compelled to outfit their crafts with VHF radiotelephone equipment, those who do are encouraged to monitor the International distress frequency 156.800 MHz / Channel 16 to the greatest practicable extent.
At this time, there are no known land-fixed marine radio stations that monitor emergencies frequencies along Shuswap & Mara Lakes. Vessels such as the new Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Lifeboat One (RCM-SAR Unit #106), the RCMP, and Shuswap Marine Freight officially monitor channel 16 while deployed on the lake during spring, summer and fall. Some marinas, boaters, paddlers and house boat rental companies may also make use marine radio. Unlike the limited local civilian cell phone coverage, all emergency and law enforcement agencies operating on Shuswap waterways enjoy a specially amplified cell phone service covering the entire area.