Can You Hear Me Now?

More than 100 Sea Tow Automated Radio Check Stations are now operational.

VHF

Sea Tow Services International announces that the number of stations transmitting its free Automated Radio Check service in coastal and inland boating areas across the U.S. has broken 100. Today, there are 107 Automated Radio Check stations, and several more are pending authorization. Sea Tow continues to seek new host stations in its ongoing mission to expand this vital boating safety service.

Automated Radio Check, which is provided by Sea Tow in association with MariTEL, lets boaters quickly and easily check that their vessel's VHF radio is working. They simply tune the radio to the local Automated Radio Check channel, key the mike, and ask for a radio check. They hear an automated response and their request is played back to them, allowing them to confirm the radio is operational and to assess transmission strength, a crucial safety check. Sea Tow Automated Radio Check also aids the U.S. Coast Guard by reducing non-emergency communications on VHF Channel 16.

The first and only service of its kind in the U.S., Sea Tow Automated Radio Check repurposes existing technology in an innovative way by utilizing marine operator channels that are no longer needed for voice transmissions. Automated Radio Check service is provided over VHF Channels 24 to 28. To find the right channel in a particular boating area, all a boater has to do is visit and enter the city, state or zip code. An interactive map will open, showing them the Automated Radio Check stations in that region.

The newest Sea Tow Automated Radio Check stations include: Gulf Shores, AL; Branford, CT; Fort Pierce, FL; Islamorada, FL; North Miami, FL; Steinhatchee, FL; Savannah, GA; South Biscayne Bay, FL; Summerland Key, FL; Eliot, ME; Rainy River Marina, Baudette, MN; Ocean Springs, MS; Camden Point, NC; Woodland Resort at Creel Bay, ND; Scuba Steve’s, Lake McConaughy, NE; North Platte, NE; Montauk, NY; Stony Brook, NY; Hilton Head, SC, and North Padre Island, TX.

One of the most visible of these stations is the 300-foot radio tower that Sea Tow Miami recently installed on the roof of the 25-story Grand View Palace condominium in Miami’s North Bay Village. “It is up and running, and has greatly expanded Automated Radio Check coverage in the Miami area,” said Sea Tow Automated Radio Check Program Coordinator, Jim Foley, adding, “Each of our new stations is the result of demand by the public for the Automated Radio Check service to be available wherever they take their boats.”

In order to fulfill that demand, Sea Tow actively is looking for volunteers to host new Automated Radio Check stations in areas that currently are not covered by the service. Any business can apply; all that’s needed is a place to mount an antenna. Automated Radio Check transmitting stations require only a controller box programmed with proprietary software developed by Sea Tow and MariTEL, a VHF radio, and a 30-foot antenna.

"An Automated Radio Check station could be a boat dealership, a boatyard, a bait and tackle shop or even a waterfront hotel or restaurant," Foley said. "Our 'wish list' for additional Automated Radio Check locations includes the Great Lakes region, San Francisco Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest." For more details, potential Sea Tow Automated Radio Check hosts are invited to e-mail ARC@seatow.com.

The United States Power Squadrons are teaming up with Sea Tow to help promote this boating safety service by giving out Automated Radio Check decals to attendees of their exciting, educational and fun boating courses, seminars and events held across the country. In addition, anyone who gets a USPS Vessel Safety Check will receive a decal. To find a USPS course or event near you, visit www.usps.org.