Packrafter/Hillwalker/Kayak Radio Equipment for Emergency Assistance (Mobile, PLB, Tracker, VHF)

Usual Disclaimer: I gathered this information off the Internet and assembled it into this article. I make no guarantees as to its accuracy or suitability to your situation!

Introduction

I have visited a number of locations in my Packraft where I have launched  into tidal or coastal waters. These include the Ardnamurchan, Uists, Harris Jura, and the waters off Argyll. I love visiting the Scottish islands, and there is limited scope for Packrafting without sticking your boat in the sea, and once you have done so, there is a myriad of close, offshore islands to visit.

Since I am often alone (my chums all baulk at the cost of a boat!), I got to thinking about personal safety eg kit, and how to call for help in an emergency, as well as the legal requirements relating to operating any radio equipment. I will keep this focused on the gadgets namely:

  • Mobile Phone
  • PLB (Personal Locator Beacon)
  • Satellite GPS Tracker (With SOS Function)
  • VHF Marine Radio
  • VHF Marine Radio with DSC (Digital Selective Calling)
  • Basic AM/FM radio for shipping forecasts

This information is aimed at Kayakers, Packrafters and other small craft operators, however much of it will also be useful to hillwalkers.

Mobile Phone

The most obvious ‘safety gear’ folks have with them is their mobile phone. As long as the trip is within the coverage area for the network, this might be all that’s required, but as you’ll gather from the locations I mention above – my phone generally reads ‘no service’. You can see the networks own coverage maps here: EE | Vodafone | O2 | Three. If you are on an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) such as Virgin or GiffGaff, see here to find out which host network they use.

Emergency SMS Service

Before we go any further, please ensure that your CURRENT mobile number is signed up for the Emergency SMS service. This is done by sending a text message with the single word register to the phone number 999 you will receive a text back and should reply with a simple yes . If you are not sure whether your current number is registered, simply re-register.

In the event of an emergency, you should send a text as per the following examples. This also applies to raising the alarm on someone else’s behalf:

  • coastguard – man overboard at sea OSGB NR663547 Gigha Island Kintyre Scotland
  • coastguard – stranded – equipment failure – west coast Wiay Island North Uist Scotland

Be as concise as you possibly can with your location – your message may first reach the coastguard in Falmouth! Be sure to include the LETTERS in any grid reference (NR in the above example).

NB: If your phone says ’emergency calls only’ then the Emergency SMS Service is not available – you can however call 999 where there is no service via your own network.

Making the Call

The emergency SMS Service is for situations where the signal on your phone is too poor to be able to make a telephone call, the battery is too drained to allow for such a call, or where making a call would put safety at risk. In all ‘normal’ situations, simply call 999 and ask for the coastguard. Be ready to respond accurately with information regarding your situation, and your location, remembering to include the LETTERS on any grid reference you might give. Where your life is not at risk and there is a possibility to do so, moving to higher ground to make a call (even after having already sent a text) would be a good idea.

Answer the prompts of the operator on the phone, but have the following information to hand:

  • Your Name, and those of any injured members of your group
  • Your Activity type: ‘Hillwalker, Kayaker’
  • Your position: eg ‘On an Island named Ross Rock, Loch Sunart’, Ardnamurchan Scotland’
  • A Grid Reference: eg ‘Location: November Mike 607 601’
  • The nature of the call: ‘Equipment failure has left me stranded on an island. I have no means to leave’, ‘Friend has suspected broken ankle’
  • Number of persons involved
  • Information to help rescue services identify you: ‘I am a Yellow Kayak’, ‘I am wearing a red jacket’.

After the call, make sure that the phone stays ‘in service’, the emergency services might require further information.

NB: Where your emergency occurs on land (and not a wee uninhabited island!) and you have a mobile signal you should ask for the Police (not the coastguard). Upon explaining your situation, the police will contact mountain rescue and the MRT will contact the coastguard if they deem it appropriate.

Make yourself Visible

  • Move out from under any trees, make yourself seen
  • If you have a high vis jacket, wear it or lay it out
  • If any boat has a bright hull, upturn it!
  • Spread out any bright spraydecks or large drybags.

Your Phone

If you are in the market for a new phone, note that there are now quite a few models available that are waterproof or at least water-resistant. Given that you are a packrafter, it might be worth considering one of these. Examples would be Galaxy S7/S8/S9, Samsung Note 8, Many of the Sony Xperia Models, an iPhone7/8/x or the LG G6/V30. The measure of a phone’s sealing is noted by its IP Number – Ideally you want IP68 rather than IP67, the latter being marketed as ‘water resistant’. IP Ratings.

Attach a lanyard to your phone or to its case, and secure it to yourself. Better still, place it in a waterproof case which will also make it float!

We all use our phones for everything these days, so a USB Battery pack as a backup would be a useful addition. There are a number of (apparently!) IP rated battery packs on the market these days see here and here. Most of them appear to come with an integrated solar panel – which would take roughly a month to recharge the pack in a typical UK summer! Personally, I use a RavPower 6700mAH pack, bought a couple of years ago because it was tiny and its still going strong. It lives in a drybag with my packraft repair kit!

Tracking and Mapping Apps

Anquet Maps

Assuming that your phone is  a smartphone, then you have a GPS device with you. I can recommend the excellent Anquet Maps which has now moved to a yearly subscription model thus eliminating most of the initial outlay. Even the cheapest £10/year gives you the ability to download and store maps on your phone for use without an internet connection. Opt for the more expensive option and you get HD Maps, 1:25K+1:50K and the ability to download to a laptop for use offline. The cheaper options rely on streaming to a Windows/MacOS install. I’ve used this extensively, even following breadcrumbs from my outward journey across a 3 mile stretch of loch on North Uist after I miss-judged the amount of daylight I had left!

OS Locate Android | iOS

If you cant stretch to a tenner every year(!), Download the OS Locate App to get a grid reference for your current location, as well as a few handy extra’s

Uepaa Android | iOS

Uepaa is a tracking app with various links to the worlds rescue services. It collects your info at registration time, such that if you ever need help, they have details like your chosen contact, medical history, as well as the nature of your trip and your plan/timescale on file. They can provide this to the rescue services. It also live tracks you to a URL which you can choose to share with someone such that they can track your progress, and has a buddy system such that you know where your chums are.

Obviously Uepaa requires an internet connection, but this need only be brief as it caches datapoints, and uploads them in reverse order (eg latest first) as soon as a signal becomes available. On a trip a couple of years ago completing the 11 munros of the Fisherfields+Fannichs solo, I found it to work pretty well despite patchy mobile coverage.

This system is much more popular in the Alps than it ever will be in Scotland, they also should about its pier-pier capabilities but these are going to be useless in Scotland.

Uepaa has a variety of subscription models, ranging from 24hrs to 1year

ViewRanger Android | iOS

Viewranger is much like Anquet maps. The only reason I don’t use it myself is that the PC version runs in a web browser and requires an internet connection – there is no option to download the maps for offline use. Assuming you only want to use it on Android/iOS, offline use is, of course fully supported. Viewranger has also moved to a subscription model, but its rather more expensive than Anquet. Where viewranger does score is with its ‘Buddy Beacon’ this allows you to live-share your location via the mobile network direct from your mapping software such that another person may track you.

Spotwalla

Spotwalla is a great system – if you have ever tracked athlete’s doing one of the well known challenges to far flung places or followed an expedition live, then there’s a good chance that the live-tracking came courtesy of Spotwalla.

Spotwalla supports a variety of input devices, from Spot/Delorme satellite-based trackers through to apps running on a mobile phone. The Spotwalla platform its-self is free. The mobile apps are not written by Spotwalla, but use its API. They are available for Android and iOS at a small cost.

I use Spotwalla myself to record my van travels; my vehicle has an Android head-unit and a MiFi – you can see the result here. I’ve also used it for recording packrafting and hiking adventures. Last year, my other half, Lucy crossed the USA by bicycle covering about 4500 miles and recorded the lot on Spotwalla see here and her blog here.

BubberGPS (the Spotwalla Android app) is quite battery-efficient, you can control the time between datapoints, as well as how ‘hard’ it tries to upload the datapoint (eg where signal is poor). It can also be configured to auto-start when the phone boots thus allowing you to forget about it.

The tracklog that is generated by Spotwalla can be shared privately and optionally password-protected. Your current location can be obfuscated, and you can setup  ‘secure zones’ (eg a KM around your home) such that Spotwalla does not tell everyone where you live if you forget to turn it off!

The tracklog can also be downloaded in a variety of formats for use elsewhere.

Tide Times Android | iOS

Knowing the tides is a pretty good idea if you are heading into the sea. There is another app, Tides Near Me (Android | iOS) which uses your location to obtain the info you require. There is also, of course the Tide Times website (no app required!)

PLB’s (Personal Locator Beacon’s)

For a basic PLB, look for something with a decent ‘shelf life’ some have 5 years others 7, they can be sent in for service/test and to have the battery replaced. I would suggest something like the  ACR ResQlink+ which will float without a case or the smaller RescueMe PLB1 (the worlds smallest) or McMurdo FastFind both of which need to be in their cases in order to float.

They have built in GPS, and when activated, they transmit the PLB’s ID + your location to a passing low-orbit satellite on 406MHz. With the addition of GPS, these trackers have moved on, older trackers used to rely on doppler-shift measurements done over several satellite passes to locate the beacon. It is important to buy a UK-coded PLB, and it is a legal requirement to register your PLB’s ID with the UK authorities. Your signal, relayed by the satellite will be received and acted upon by the UK ground station located in Combe Martin, Devon.

Once activated, you signal needs to be picked up, this requires a satellite to be overhead which may require 10’s of minutes. Once your distress signal has reached the authorities (and depending on the GPS co-ordinates received), the distress call will need to be validated. Validation is done by trying to contact both the owner of the device and the registered contact/next-of-kin.

Most PLB’s also transmit a ‘homing beacon’ on 121.5MHz to aid rescue services in their final search once they are on site.

You must register your PLB here.

One important point about a PLB is that there are no registration fees or ongoing subscription costs, unlike satellite GPS trackers (see below).

Satellite GPS Tracker With SOS Function

Moving on from basic PLB’s, you can purchase a satellite tracker that has SOS functionality built in. These devices are also able to upload to systems like Spotwalla as mentioned earlier and have a facility whereby you can indicate that you are ‘OK’ for folks that are monitoring your journey. This ensures that you can receive assistance in situations where you are unable to activate the SOS functionality on your tracker.

The basic SPOT tracker will cost you about £128 – the lower cost vs a PLB is explained by the subscription model with a basic subscription coming in at £180/year!

The SOS functionality on a SPOT device operates using SPOT’s own systems. They will forward your SOS to authorities within the country indicated by the GPS position – the local responder’s will also receive your contact details and those of your next-of-kin.

Going beyond SPOT, you have the Garmin InReach range (formerly DeLorme), these build on the basic functionality of SPOT trackers by allowing you to send custom messages. You’ll have noted the £449 price tag! Subscriptions for this system depend on usage and start from £12.99/month + message costs, but the freedom plan allows you to activate the device for one month only for £17.99. InReach supports weather updates by text message. SOS functionality operates in the same way as for SPOT.

Spot trackers and can also be hired.

VHF Marine Radio

This section will cover both the basic VHF radio and the newer type with embedded DSC (Digital Selective Calling).

Licensing

Firstly and foremost, the use of a Marine VHF Radio requires a license. The good news is that this license is free and easily obtained online from the Ofcom website. The license is called a ‘Ship Portable Radio License’ – there are two types, ‘fixed’ and ‘portable’, the fixed one is registered to the vessel and comes with a call sign, the portable one has a T-Number in place of a call-sign. You can apply for  your license here.

So, that was the good news, there must be a catch? Well yes, there is, you also require an ‘Operators Certificate’ before you are allowed to transmit using the radio. Most folks would cover this requirement with a Marine Radio SRC (Short Range Certificate), costing about £170 for the course+exam. But and this is a big but your ‘Ship Portable Radio License’ has some clauses where the radio can be used for transmitting WITHOUT your holding an operators certificate namely:

  • Emergency communications – eg Mayday on Channel 16 (158.800MHz)
  • Communications within a marina in the UK on channel M (157.850MHz)
  • Communications within a marina in the UK on channel M2 (161.425MHz)

As such, obtaining a Ship Portable Radio License, and a Marine VHF Radio to summon help in the event of an emergency when out of other options is legal. Up until that time, the radio would be OFF and stored in a dry-bag. The relevant clauses supporting this are found in this document.

Section 4.1 thus:

Even if your radio is covered by a valid WT Act licence, you may not use it for general transmissions until:
• you have passed the relevant examination and possess a valid operator’s certificate and authority to operate; or 
• you are under the direct and personal supervision of someone who has done so. 
However, you can still monitor the radio for safety purposes or use it to summon assistance in a distress situation, without one.

And Section 7.3 (d) thus:

(d) Marina channels In the UK, these channels have been set aside for matters relating to mooring, berthing and race control. There are three marina channels:
Channels M (157.850MHz) and M2 (161.425MHz) These are UK channels and should be used only in UK territorial waters. Their onboard use is covered
by a Ship Radio licence; however, equipment that can operate solely on these frequencies is usually licensed under a Coastal Station Radio licence, and
the operator does not need to hold an operator’s certificate.

Another useful fact is that in the event of an emergency the Marine Emergency Channel 16 (158.800MHz) may legally be used to summon assistance from land. A pack-rafter turned hill-walker in a remote setting close to the coast with a broken  leg might find this to be more useful than their mobile phone!

During the process of applying for your license, you will have been asked for your own details and those of an emergency contact. You will be allocated an MSSI number (Specific to DSC Radio’s) and a T-Number. The T-Number is in place of a call-sign eg where no named vessel is present. The MSSI gets programmed into your DSC radio, while the T-Number is best printed, laminated and stuck to the radio.

Radio Equipment

Marine VHF Radios

The Cobra HH125 is the cheapest dedicated Marine VHF handset out there at £55 if you shop around. There are other options such as the Baofeng UV-5R but this is not pre-programmed for UK VHF Marine frequencies so it would be a DIY Job. To program this radio, you would need the USB Programming Cable and a copy of the open source Chirp Software. The Chirp software allows the setup of only certain channels – for instance, you may choose to only add channel 16 (marine emergency channel). Care must be taken to ensure that the radio is only operated on ‘Channel Mode’, and there is a ‘lock’ button on the radio to ensure this. For an easy life, I suggest you get the Cobra HH125 @ £55quid instead!

Marine VHF Radios with DSC

Marine VHF Radios that have DSC (digital Selective calling) tend to be thrice the price of a basic VHF Handheld radio, but there are a number of reasons why you might want one. On your ‘Ship Portable Radio License’ you will have a MSSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identity) number, this is a 9 digit number that is allocated to you, it is tied to your personal information, and those of your stated emergency contact that you declared during the license application. The DSC radio has a mechanism for the MSSI to be entered. Additionally, many DSC radio’s also have built-in GPS. The process of initially summoning assistance becomes automated, but there is still a requirement to follow up a DSC distress call on the usual channel 16.  See the Cobra HH-MR600 DSC Radio.

Whichever radio you purchase, care must be taken not to transmit on frequencies that would require you to hold an operators license. You may legally monitor these frequencies, but may not transmit on them. For a Pack-rafter the radio would likely be switched off, in a dry-bag except for in a dire emergency.

Radio Check

Since you cannot legally test your radio using the general channels without holding an operators certificate, I would suggest that you visit your local marina and en devour to check that your new radio works using channels M or M2 listed above. The license suggests that this can be done legally without your holding an operators certificate. Additionally, you could also hand your radio to someone that holds an operators certificate, or be under their supervision while a radio check was carried out.

Range

The cheaper radio above has a power output of 3W, while some more expensive models have a 6W mode. That said, you are in a Kayak/Packraft and hence close to the sea. Your range to another Kayaker would be maybe 2 miles, or to a Yacht maybe 5 miles. Your location and the topography of the coastline has more of a bearing on your range than the power of your handset. Also remember that even if you can hear folk on your radio they might not be able to hear you. Their antenna is likely higher and they may be transmitting with more power. If your emergency occurs on land, consider moving to higher ground if its safe to do so.

Phonetic Alphabet

The phonetic, or spoken alphabet, makes your communication of letters much clearer. Its also useful on the phone to your gas company when reciting your postcode! Check it out here.

2010 Changes to the Emergency Channel Monitoring Requirements

Before 2010, all coastguard stations maintained a headset watch on channel 16 (158.800 MHz), and additionally it was a legal requirement for sea-going vessels to monitor this channel. Times change, and with the advent of DSC (Digital Selective Calling), the requirement for vessels to monitor this channel disappeared, and coastguard stations now monitor it via a wall mounted speaker rather than a headset. The primary means today of the coastguard getting word of a distress signal/mayday, is via a computer that is listening to channel 70 (The DSC Channel), and automatically looking up the information and displaying the location/name/details of the vessel in distress. DSC distress calls are also acknowledged digitally so you know your distress signal got through.

In addition, DSC radio’s automatically monitor the DSC distress channel 70 for distress calls from others, and can extract the MSSI and Location information. Other radio operators who believe that the distress signal did not reach a store station can relay the DSC distress communication using their own station with a ‘MAYDAY RELAY’ or a ‘PAN PAN RELAY’ – they can also attend your distress call themselves.

There is a lot of legacy equipment out there, and although there is no longer a legal requirement to monitor channel 16, many ships still do via a dual watch. Additionally, that speaker on channel 16 is on the wall of every coastguard station in the country, and channel 16 is still the mechanism through wish follow up comms occur after a DSC distress signal is sent. In short, you are still likely to be heard issuing a MAYDAY or PAN-PAN distress call via an older, non-DSC radio.

Raising the Alarm – DSC VHF Radio

If your radio is a DSC Radio, you would initiate the distress call using the Distress button on the radio. This will be sent via DSC on channel 70. After pressing the button, wait 15 seconds before continuing with a normal distress transmission on channel 16 (see below). NB: Some radio’s have a means to describe the ‘severity’ of the incident before the distress button is pressed.

A DSC Initiated Distress Call

Raising the Alarm – VHF Radio (Also for DSC Follow On Comms)

Tune the radio to channel 16 (158.800MHz), and ensure the power level is set to HIGH

There are two basic types of distress call:

  • PAN PAN – eg where there is not a threat to life, but where the journey cannot continue without assistance.
  • MAYDAY – eg where there is an imminent threat to life.

Apart from the opening statement of ‘PAN-PAN’ or ‘MAYDAY’, the information that should be included in any distress call is similar, but a MAYDAY is by default ‘ALL STATIONS’ while a PAN-PAN should be directed to a specific person/vessel – even if that specific person/vessel is ‘ALL STATIONS’.

PAN-PAN Procedure

Announce the following:

  • The Distress type: ‘PAN-PAN, PAN-PAN, PAN-PAN’
  • The recipient: ‘ALL STATIONS, ALL STATIONS, ALL STATIONS’
  • Vessel type/name: ‘This is KAYAK-WEBBER, WEBBER, WEBBER’  (This does not need to be a registered name, but it establishes the vessel type and a handle for the remainder of the call)
  • Your T-Number: ‘T-Number TXXXXXX’ (Your 6 digit T-Number if you know it)
  • Your MSSI number: ‘MSSI XXXXXXXXX’ (for DSC Radios where distress button was used)
  • Your verbal position:  ‘My position is on an Island named Ross Rock, Loch Sunart’ (unlike a mobile phone call, your PAN-PAN will be handled more locally so clear local names are OK)
  • And/Or Grid Reference: ‘Location: November Mike 607 601’ (NB: In a Packraft its unlikely that you’ll be far enough off the coast to need LAT/LON!)
  • The nature of the call: ‘Equipment failure has left me stranded – request (urgent) assistance’
  • Number of persons involved: ‘There is one person involved’
  • Information about the vessel: ‘I am a Yellow Kayak’
  • Handover the call: ‘Over’

The response from the coastguard or another vessel should begin with ‘PAN-PAN’ followed by your vessel type/name followed by the name of the responder eg:

‘PAN PAN KAYAK-WEBBER This is Greenock Coastguard received your PAN-PAN’ [rest of comms] ‘Over’

Your future responses would be thus:

‘PAN-PAN Greenock Coastguard this is KAYAK-WEBBER’ [rest of comms] ‘Over’

MAYDAY Procedure

Announce the following:

  • The Distress type: ‘MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY’
  • Vessel type/name: ‘This is KAYAK-WEBBER, WEBBER, WEBBER’  (This does not need to be a registered name, but it establishes the vessel type and a handle for the remainder of the call)
  • Your T-Number: ‘T-Number TXXXXXX’ (Your 6 digit T-Number if you know it)
  • Your MSSI number: ‘MSSI XXXXXXXXX’ (for DSC Radios where distress button was used)
  • Your verbal position: ‘My position is 2 miles West-South-West of Inverie’ (unlike a mobile phone call, your PAN-PAN will be handled more locally so clear local names are OK)
  • Your OSGB Grid Reference: ‘Location: November Mike 730 986’ (NB: In a Packraft its unlikely that you’ll be far enough off the coast to need LAT/LON)
  • The nature of the call: ‘We are being blown further out to sea in worsening weather’
  • Number of persons involved: ‘We are a party of 5 Kayakers’
  • Information about the vessel: ‘5 Kayaks have rafted up’
  • Handover the call: ‘Over’

‘MAYDAY KAYAK-WEBBER This is Stornoway Coastguard received your MAYDAY’ [rest of comms] ‘Over’

Your future responses would be thus:

‘MAYDAY Stornoway Coastguard this is KAYAK-WEBBER’ [rest of comms] ‘Over’

NB: It need not be a nearby coastguard that responds to your call, it could be another vessel or a Coastguard Rescue Station. On the west coast of Scotland, it could very well be Stornoway coastguard on the isle of Lewis.

There are many examples on Youtube regarding how to correctly, and efficiently notify the nature of your problem see the following video:

PAN PAN VHF Example

Coastguard Stations

In 2015, the coastguard completed its modernisation program which saw a number of coastguard stations closed down. As an example, Aberdeen now handles coastguard operations in the Forth Estuary.  This is not to say that your VHF radio now need to transmit all the way to Aberdeen as coastguard relay stations were retained, and the coastguard operates an integrated service including lifeboat stations and other vessels all of who may respond to your distress call. You may view the coastguard area’s here.

VHF Radio Channels

See the list here and here. Note that some of these channels are duplex (allow simultaneous transmit and receive on different frequencies). To listen to these frequencies (eg for weather update purposes – see next section) you need to tune to the shore stations transmit frequency. Note that as a ship-station, even with an operators license, you are not allowed to transmit on the shore station frequency (its also unlikely you would be heard).

Coastguard Weather Updates

Coastguard Stations broadcast inshore weather updates every 4 hours and a shipping forecast every 12 hours. The start times for these forecasts are noted here and here I have also copied them below:

Centre Inshore (4-hourly from) Shipping forecast (12-hourly from)
Swansea 0005 0805
Thames 0010 0810
Clyde 0020 0820
Yarmouth 0040 0840
Solent 0040 0840
Brixham 0050 0850
Dover 0105 0905
Shetland 0105 0905
Stornoway 0110 0910
Falmouth 0140 0940
Forth 0205 1005
Liverpool 0210 1010
Portland 0220 1020
Holyhead 0235 0635
Belfast 0305 0705
Aberdeen 0320 0720
Milford Haven 0335 0735
Humber 0340 0740

Forecasts may be broadcast on VHF Channels 10, 23, 73, 84 or 86, after an initial announcement on Channel 16. Times are GMT.

Its worth highlighting the above channels, but note that some of them (23,84 and 86) are duplex channels and you need to be listening to the shore station frequency. The frequency list in the preceding section will assist with this.

AM/FM Standard Radio

Radio 4 Shipping Forecast

The shipping forecast is a long standing service broadcast on Radio 4. To make sense of the shipping forecast, you will need to know the name of the sea area in which you are paddling. Click Here.

For ease, I have copied the times of the broadcasts below:

  • 00:48 – LW, MW and FM (Coastal waters 00:52 | Inshore waters 00:55) + UK Weather outlook
  • 05:20 – LW, MW and FM (Coastal waters 05:25 | Inshore waters 05:27)
  • 12:01 – LW Only
  • 17:54 – Weekdays: LW Only, Weekends: LW, MW and FM

Frequencies:

  • Long Wave: 198KHz
  • Medium Wave: 603KHz (Newcastle) | 720KHz (London, Derry, Belfast) | 756KHz (Redruth) | 774KHz (Plymouth/Enniskillen) | 1449KHz (Aberdeen) | 1485kHz (Carlisle)
  • FM: 9295MHz (England + Wales) |  94.6–96.1 + 103.5–104.9MHz (Scotland) | 93.2–96.0 +103.5–104.6MHz (Northern Ireland) | 103.0–104.5MHz (Wales)

Website: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/public/weather/marine/shipping-forecast

Note that the shipping forecast uses the Beaufort Scale for wind speeds. See here for details.

BBC Radio Scotland Mountain Weather Forecast

The Mountain Weather forecast is broadcast in Scotland on BBC Radio Scotland at 18:25 weekdays and as a part of the 07:00 and and 19:00 bulletins at weekends.

Frequencies:

  • FM: 92.5-94.7MHz
  • MW: 585 and 810KHz

NB: When in a remote area, you have a far far higher chance of receiving this on MW than on FM

The BBC Scotland forecast is based on the MWIS forecast. Here

Equipment – eg Pocket Radio’s

Many mobile phones have an FM receiver in them these days, but they all use the headphone cable as the antenna. If your phone does FM, make sure you take your headphones!

On Long Wave, 198KHz Radio 4 is receivable almost everywhere in the UK. A suitably cheap radio would be this one which also does MW and FM.

Preparation

With all the above said, there is no replacement for adequate preparation and doing stuff within the limit of your skills, experience and the capabilities of your craft. Your aim is to complete the journey without assistance. Calling out the lifeboat or local MRT is a last resort that we all hope to avoid!

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