If you are planning on becoming an operator of VHF radio equipment on a boat or any other UK-flagged vessel – you need to get certified.
It doesn’t matter if the radio is a simple, hand-held device or a piece of fixed equipment, as long as it’s on a UK-flagged marine vehicle – you can only operate it if you’re certified.
But, how do you do that?
You become a certified VHF radio operator by completing a certification exam conducted at one of the Royal Yachting Association-recognized training centres.
Fortunately for you, there are quite a few RYA-recognized training centres – so you may feel free to shop around until you find the one that suits you the best.
Now, the question we’re trying to answer today is – how hard is this course? Can you pass the exam on your first try? Well, let’s find out.
What Is A VHF Radio And Is It Important?
A VHF (very high frequency) radio is an essential piece of safety equipment onboard any marine vehicle – whether it’s a small boat or a large ship.
According to Wikipedia, a “VHF radio is a worldwide system of two-way radio transceivers on ships and watercraft used for bidirectional voice communication from ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore, and in certain circumstances ship-to-aircraft.”
As such an essential safety piece, it is paramount that it is operated by a professional. Understanding the proper procedures and protocols is essential.
Improper handling and unnecessary operations could cause various complications, including “jamming the lines” and potentially harming lives by blocking a potential distress call.
That is why you need a certified operator behind this device.
Do I Need A Licence To Use A VHF Radio On A Vessel?
In order to legally obtain a VHF radio on a boat, you will need an SRPL or Ship Portable Radio Licence. This applies to each and every hand-held VHF DSC radio, considering every individual radio is assigned an identity.
What Is SRC?
An SRC stands for Short Range Certificate and is an internationally recognized certificate that is issued to marine radio operators. It is the minimal prerequisite qualification legally required to control and operate a VHF or VHF DSC radio on any British marine vessel.
Obtaining this certificate proves that an operator has undergone basic training and is now familiar and versatile in marine communication, its rules and regulations, and is perfectly capable of operating and using marine radio equipment.
Why Do You Need RYA VHF SRC?
As we have already said, you need to obtain RYA-compliant certification in order to control and operate a VHF radio on any British vessel.
That’s the standard and minimal requirement issued by the UK government. Considering how vital this piece of equipment is – it is not surprising that you have to take a course and pass the exam in order to get licenced to use a device like this.
Also, it is important to know that anyone operating a VHF radio on a sailing boat, without proper certification, can be held legally responsible and may be legally charged, resulting in fines and equipment confiscation.
Some may say it’s ludicrous how you don’t need a licence to sail a boat or a yacht, but you need one for this, but one could argue that it is easier to steer a boat than it is to properly operate a radio.
No, we’re just kidding, this is absolutely ridiculous, but you can’t do anything about it.
How Do You Obtain The RYA VHF SRC?
You can obtain the necessary SRC certificate by enrolling in one of the RYA-compliant training centre’s courses and completing the exam. As we’ve said, there are many of these courses available, and as you can see at www.duck-2-water.co.uk, these courses aren’t even that expensive.
Do You Need Previous Experience, Knowledge Or Training?
According to RYA’s guidelines, you don’t need any previous experience, knowledge, or training in order to enrol in a course or complete the exam.
The only real prerequisite is that you are 16 years old or older.
As for the “previous experience”, you can’t really have one since you’re legally not allowed to operate a radio without certification. However, in order to make it easier for you to follow the course and ace the exam, every training centre will provide their students with some basic study materials that you can go through in about three hours.
What Does The Course Entail?
The course consists of previously mentioned study materials, and 6 to 8 hours long course, and a practical part.
Excluding the study materials, all of this will take place at the same time. Most of the time, the 6 to 8-hour long course will take place online, where you’ll be taught the basics of VHF radio – how to operate it, a brief course on frequencies and channels, procedures and protocols and so on.
If you want to get into more detail – here’s what you’ll cover during the course.
- Information on the VHF, DSC, and GMDSS system and its equipment and licensing requirements
- Radio rules and regulations
- Operation of marine VHF equipment including DSC functions
- The phonetic alphabet
- Basic radio language and protocols
- Correct use of the various channels
- How to make calls to other stations
- How to send a Distress Alert and Distress Message (Mayday)
- How to send an urgency alert and a safety call
After completion, you’ll have the knowledge and the ability to partake in the practical portion of the test, where you’ll learn, hands-on, how to operate a VHF radio. This hour-long session is mandated and will take place at a training facility.
After that, you’ll take a short, written SRC exam to get your certificate.
How Long Will The Course Last?
As we’ve said, the course will last for a day.
You’ll go through the course, both theoretical and practical, in about 8 hours, upon which you’ll take the written exam.
With an exam, it’ll take you about 12 hours until you finish the whole thing.
Conclusion – How Hard is RYA VHF SRC Course?
As you can so obviously see – the RYA VHF SRC course is not hard. In fact, it is very easy. If we had to rate it on a scale of one to ten – we’d give it a two.
You’ll be done with it in only a day, and if you can comfortably take the exam after only a few hours of “studying”, that’s saying pretty much everything you need to know about the difficulty of this course.
Over 95% of all applicants pass to finish the course successfully on their first try, so don’t worry about it. You’ll ace it!