VHF Radio Course – Online

Key Course Details

Duration: At your pace

Time: N/A

Group Size: N/A

Min Age: From 12

Price: £65 (course pack included)



The Short Range Certificate (‘SRC’) is the radio operator qualification which authorises the holder to operate a VHF radiotelephone, fitted with Digital Selective Calling (‘DSC’) on board any British vessel which is voluntarily fitted with radio equipment.

For a number of years it has been possible to undertake the RYA VHF/Short Range Certificate Course either online or in a classroom. The end of course assessment is still taken in the classroom though.

The online course breaks down the teaching of all aspects of using a VHF Radio into manageable sections. As you work through each section there are various methods used to ensure that you have understood the subject such as little quizes and even the chance to use a simulator to make and record practice calls. Throughout there are recordings of radio calls so that you can hear what a real call would sound like.

At the end of the course there is a straightforward ‘knowledge check’ to ensure that you are ready to go ahead to the assessment.

Undertaking the course

Once we have set up your login and sent it to you you can logon and begin the course. You work through the course at your own pace. Once you have finished the various sections of the course you take an online practice test to check that you have the right level of knowledge for the assessment itself.

Completing the end of course test then leads the RYA Interactive system to issue you your own unique certificate. You will need to take this with you when attending the assessment.

How to book

Go to ‘Book Now’, choose the number of courses you wish to book, pay your course fee and we sign you up to the online course and send you your unique logon and course pack.

Minimum age

Any age for the course but 16 for the end of course assessment and the issue of the official licence.

Just need an assessment?

If you took the online course with another provider then we’re always happy to undertake the assessment for you. Please note though that the other Training Centre with need to send us the assessment card to arrive before you sit the assessment.

Booking the assessment

Assessments are scheduled to run at the end of every classroom course that we run (which is roughly every 2 weeks) so there will never be an issue scheduling you in. We may also be able to schedule in specific dates for groups of 3 or more – just call/email to check.

If you have undertaken the course online when you come to the examination we will arrange some time for you to get used to the VHF radios you will be using.

Prior Experience Required

None! Ahead of the course we will send you a course handbook and instructions on what preparation to undertake. This course pack can take the form of an ‘eBook’ or a ‘realBook’.

The cost of the course


The cost of the assessment

This is £60 and is payable in advance to the RYA through the RYA website. In your Joining Instructions for the course we send you, we’ll explain how to go about this. If you are undertaking the course for your work and we are invoicing your company then we can include the £60 fee in the invoice we create.

How do I access the course?

We set up your login and get the login details are emailed to you so that you can get going online. The course pack is sent next business day.

The dashboard gives you access to all aspects of the course including the additional videos to help you get to grips with the subjects.


Please tell me more about the end of course assessment

Assessments are scheduled at the end of every course that we conduct in the classroom – we run these every two weeks.

Don’t worry about the word ‘assessment’ – it is not scary! It’s just simply a way of ensuring that you can use the radio, understand what channels to use, make distress, urgency and safety calls etc.

There is a short written paper to complete so if you feel you may have any issues doing this in writing please do let us know ideally ahead of attending as we can conduct this verbally with you.

The practical assessment simply involves repeating the various calls you will have learnt to make during the online course.

The assessment element of the VHF Course will be conducted by a separate RYA Assessor. We have 7 assessors between Powerboat Training UK and Aquasafe Powerboat School so you may well know the assessor anyway. They are all hugely experienced at putting you at your ease and making the assessment straightforward and enjoyable.

Here is the RYA’s short video about the course

What’s best – the online or classroom course?

In all honesty if you can afford the time to come to us and do the course in the classroom in our opinion this is the best way. Whilst the online course is excellent what you really miss out on is the real hands on experience of our instructors who have many years of experience afloat and add to the syllabus to maximise the benefit of the course and your investment in it.

Additionally, many people may find it easier to progress and pass the exam, building on the time we spend using the radios during the day and the assistance the instructor provides as you progress through the course.

However if you want to do the course away from the classroom then the online course is great. Equally if you already have the VHF licence and either need the DSC element or just want to brush up then its an excellent option. Don’t forget though that you will need to come into our classroom to take the examination.

Why choose Powerboat Training UK for your online RYA VHF radio course?

We know that there are plenty of sites out there offering the RYA online VHF Radio course but like most sectors nowadays it is easy enough to create a whizzy looking website that reads well. Powerboat Training UK offers all of the online courses but has physical offices too with instructors and a support team always on hand to provide advice and guidance. With offices in two major south coast locations and VHF courses scheduled at least every two weeks booking the end of course examination is easy. So whilst you will probably find a website that offers courses a few pounds cheaper than schools with proper facilities you get in life pretty much what you pay for.

This course is aimed at

The RYA VHF/Short Range Certificate course is not just essential for all small boat skippers and their regular crew members, there are plenty of others it’s relevant to….


  • Those with their own boats keen to ensure they are ‘legal’ but are also of course well versed in all of the means of issuing a distress message from their vessel. Whilst of course the distress element is a key factor knowing which channels to use and how to use the radio properly when out boating increases confidence and enjoyment.
  • Those without a boat yet and keen to ensure they are acquiring the right qualifications either because they intend buying or for when they are chartering or hiring. The course is also a great way to enhance your knowledge about boating generally and helps when deciding what radios to buy.
  • Those who have boated a while and are perhaps are already using their VHF but want to learn both how to use the radio to full effect and of course also to be legal.
  • Kayakers and dinghy sailors are increasingly carrying personal hand held VHFs and are very sensible to do so. We have welcomed a good number of of kayakers and sailors to our courses – don’t let our company name put you off we love boating in all of its forms!
  • Sailing clubs, Fire & Rescue Services, Police Forces, Military units and government bodies often ask us to come and train a group of their people in-house. As we have a portable kit including 8 radios plus examples of various EPIRBs, SARTs, PLBs etc so can ensure a really fun and informative course even if we are not running the course in our classroom.


Aim: “The Short Range Certificate (‘SRC’) is the radio operator qualification which authorises the holder to operate a VHF radiotelephone, fitted with Digital Selective Calling (‘DSC’) on board any British vessel which is voluntarily fitted with radio equipment.”


A1. Types of communication in the maritime mobile service:
– Distress, urgency and safety communication;
– Public correspondence;
– Port Operations
– Ship Movement service;
– Intership communication;
– On-board communications;

A2. Types of station in the maritime mobile service:
– Ship stations;
– Coast stations;
– Pilot stations, port stations etc
– Aircraft stations;
– Rescue coordination centre (RCC)

A3. Elementary knowledge of radio frequencies and channels appropriate to the VHF maritime mobile band.
– The concept of frequency
– Propagation on VHF frequencies
– Range of voice communication
– Range of DSC transmissions
– Frequencies and channels allocated to the maritime mobile service:
– The usage of VHF frequencies in the maritime mobile service;
– The concept of radio channel: simplex, semi-duplex and duplex.
– Channel plan for VHF including allocations for the GMDSS
– Distress, urgency and safety channels;
– National channels for small craft safety
– Intership communications
– Port operations and ship movement channels
– Calling channels.
– Public correspondence channels

A4. Functionality of ship station equipment
– Sources of energy of ship stations
– Batteries: Different kinds of batteries and their characteristics; Charging; Maintenance of batteries


B1. VHF Radio equipment.

1.1 Radiotelephone channels
– Channel selection and controls
– Dual watch facilities and controls

1.2 Basic controls and usage, e.g.:
– Connecting the power:
– Press to transmit switch
– Squelch control
– Using the volume control;
– High/low power output switch:
– Using the dimmer control
– Dual watch function

1.3 Portable two-way VHF radiotelephone apparatus.

1.4 Maritime VHF antennas

B2. Purpose and use of Digital Selective Calling (DSC) facilities

2.1 The general principals and basic features of DSC
– DSC messages
– DSC attempt
– Call acknowledgement
– Call relay

2.2 Types of call
– Distress call
– All ships call
– Call to an individual station
– Geographical area call
– Group call

2.3 The Maritime mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number system
– Nationality identification: martime Identification Digits (MID)
– Ship station numbers
– Coast station numbers

2.4 Call categorisation and priority
– Distress
– Urgency
– Safety
– Ship’s business
– Routine

2.5 Call telecommand and traffic information
– Distress alerts
– Other calls
– Working channel information

2.6 VHF DSC facilities and usage
– Channel 70 instant alert selector
– DSC data entry and display
– Updating vessel position
– Entering pre-set message
– Entering traffic information
– Reviving received messages
– DSC watch keeping functions and controls


C1. Search and Rescue (SAR) Procedures in the GMDSS

1.1 Sea areas and access to GMDSS facilities
1.2 The Role of RCCs
1.3 Organisation of search and rescue.

C2 Distress, urgency and safety communication procedures in the GMDSS

2.1 Distress communications via VHF DSC equipment
– DSC distress alert
– The definition of a distress alert
– The transmission of a distress alert
– Transmission of a shore to ship distress alert relay
– Transmission of a distress alert by a station not itself in distress
– Receipt and acknowledgement of VHF DSC distress alert
– Acknowledgement procedure
– Receipt and acknowledgement by a coast station
– Handling of distress alert
– Preparations for handling of distress traffic
– Distress traffic terminology
– On-scene communications
– SAR operation

2.2 Urgency and safety communications via DSC equipment
– The meaning of urgency and safety communications
– Procedure for DSC Urgency and safety calls
– Urgency communications
– Safety communications

C3 Protection of distress frequencies.

3.1 Avoiding harmful interference:
– Avoidance of the transmission of false alerts;
– The status of VHF Channel 70.

3.2 Transmissions during distress traffic

3.3 Prevention of unauthorised transmissions.

3.4 Test protocols and procedures:
– Testing DSC procedures
– Radiotelephone test procedures;

3.5 Avoidance of transmissions in the VHF guard bands.

3.6 Procedures to follow when a false alert has been transmitted.

C4 Maritime safety information

4.1 The Navtex system: Purpose and capabilities, including distress and safety functions

C5 Alerting and locating Signals

5.1 Purpose and definition

5.2 Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBS)
– Registration and coding
– Information contents of a distress alert.
– False alerts.
– Operation, including automatic and manual activation
– Inmarsat-E 1.6 GHz EPIRB
– 121.5 EPIRB
– 121.5 homing function
– Mounting considerations
– Routine maintenance
– Testing
– Checking battery expiry date
– Checking the float-free mechanism expiry date

5.3 Search and Rescue Transponder (SART)
– Operation
– Operating height
– Effect of radar reflector
– Range of a SART transmitter
– The SART transmission on a radar display
– Routine maintenance of a SART
– Testing a SART
– Checking the battery expiry date


D1. Ability to exchange communications relevant to the safety of life at sea using the English language.

1.1 Distress communication.
– Distress signal:
– The correct use and meaning of the signal MAYDAY;
– Distress call;
– Distress message;
– Acknowledgement of a distress message:
– Obligation to acknowledge a distress message;
– Correct form of acknowledgement;
– Action to be taken following acknowledgement;
– The control of distress traffic
– The correct use and meanings of the signals
– Transmission of a distress message by a station not itself in distress:
– The meaning and correct use of the signal MAYDAY RELAY;

1.2 Urgency communications:
– Urgency signal:
– The meaning and correct use of the signal PAN-PAN;
– Urgency message
– Obtaining urgent medical advice through a Coast Radio Station

1.3 Safety communications:
– Safety signal:
– The meaning and correct use of the signal SECURITE;
– Safety Message
– Special procedures for communications with appropriate national organisations on matters affecting safety

1.4 Maritime Safety Information
– Reception of MSI by VHF Radiotelephony

1.5 Awareness of the existence and use of the International Maritime Organization (IMO)
Standard Marine Navigational Vocabulary
– Knowledge of the following basic signals:-

1.6 Use of international phonetic alphabet for letters and phonetic pronunciation of numerals.

D2. Regulations, obligatory procedures and practices.

2.1 Awareness of international documentation and availability of national publications:

2.2 Knowledge of the international regulations and agreements governing the maritime mobile service:
– Requirement for Ship Radio Licence;
– Regulations concerning control of the operation of radio equipment by the holder of an appropriate certificate of competence;
– National regulations concerning the keeping of radio records
– Preservation of the secrecy of correspondence.
– Types of call and types of message which are prohibited

D3. Practical and theoretical knowledge of radiotelephone procedures.

3.1 Public correspondence and radiotelephone call procedures
– Method of calling a coast station by radiotelephony
– Ordering for a manually switched link call
– Ending the call
– Calls to ships from Coast Radio Stations
– Special facilities of calls
– Selecting an automatic radiotelephone call

3.2 Traffic charges:
– International charging system;
– Accounting Authority Identification Code (AAIC).

3.3 Practical traffic routines
– Correct use of callsigns
– Procedure for establishing communication on
– Intership channels
– Public correspondence channels
– Small craft safety channels
– Port operation and ship movement channels
– Procedure for unanswered calls
– Procedure for garbled calls
– Control of communications


VHF Radio Course – Online - Book Now

This is an online course so all you need to do is to choose the courses that you want to do, pay and we will send your login details and instructions for taking the course and of course send you out your course pack. The logins will arrive the next business day as we need to manually set you up on the interactive website for this course.

We’re always really keen to chat to you when you’re booking a course as whilst we are happy to take bookings through this system for your convenience – nothing beats chatting about boats and courses!

If you would prefer to discuss or book this course by phone please do contact us, alternatively feel free to use the form below and we will respond promptly to your enquiry.

To book places please select the number of places you want and ‘Add to Marina Trolley’