Quick VHF Safety Tip

While cruising is generally much safer than driving on a freeway, don’t forget that there may be someone less fortunate looking for an easy way to make some quick cash.   As in stealing your stuff and turning it into cash.   Usually while you’re not home (i.e. aboard).   We call it “opportunity theft”.

Portobello Harbor, Panama

Portobello Harbor, Panama

TIP:  If you call another boat on the VHF and they don’t answer, don’t keep calling.  A couple of times is sufficient.  You might accidentally alert the area that no one’s home and they might as well swing by the boat and see if anything’s available on deck.

For that matter, don’t keep repeatedly calling anyone period.  If they don’t answer in the first few times, they’re probably either immersed in a major project… or have their VHF turned off … or aren’t home/aboard.

And never make plans to be off the boat – dinner ashore, happy hour at a friend’s boat, holiday gathering etc., over the VHF.  That’s all the listening ears need. Click here to find out how I know.  🙁

Some cruisers (including us at times) turn their VHF off in an anchorage because there’s too much garbage chatter and repeated hailing with no response.

But when we turn off the VHF, no one will hear a call for help in the anchorage.   And especially outside US waters, often other cruisers are the only “safety net” we have.

Be safe out there!  Anyone have anything to add?  Please leave a comment and share.   Cheers!  Jan



  1. Hi,
    good points, but may I add to it in it does help other close by boaties to know you are ashore if your anchor drags, or to know someone nearby is on board, which could be handy to know.. as I once early one morning was having a shower on the deck in what I thought was a set of deserted boats in the mooring area, only to sheepishly rinse off and see another boatie pop up from his cabin in the nearby boat and do some work on his decks.

    Plus if one knows if the owner is away and then sees a person row up and take gear off the boat, one might be more alert and do something.

    For security while you are away, I recommend a gsm boat alarm, that will let you know if anyone is aboard and text your phone. If you have a VHF handheld and now the boat next doors’ name, you could ask them to check.

    If you get the GPS model it also tracks your dingy and main boat, and alerts you if the anchor drags or it gets pinched.

    They are pretty cool and only a few hundred dollars.

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