Your boat must claim a hailing port for several reasons. It allows for communication with other vessels, as well as the United States Coast Guard. It might also be the place where you store your boat when it’s not on the water. You can choose any hailing port you want, but understanding the purpose of the port and how to select the ideal one for your vessel is part of being a responsible boat owner. This guide will give you the facts you may not already know.
When a Hailing Port is Not Required
In general, most vessels must choose a hailing port. However, there are exceptions to this rule. A cruise ship typically drops its anchor where it’s at until it returns to the open water. For that reason, cruise ships may not have a hailing port. Because they make only short stops at these ports and typically sail year-round, they do not have to claim a hailing port. However, most other vessels do and it’s in your best interests to follow the guidelines for the process.
How to Hail a Port
When you enter a port, you must radio to the other boaters for permission or to give notice that you are entering. Be familiar with your hailing port so that you understand how the process works. Some of this is governed by laws and regulations, while other aspects of entering your hailing port are determined by common courtesy and unspoken rules of the boating community.
To radio the port, use a VHF radio in frequencies that operate between 161 and 174 MHz or 2182 and 2217 MHz This will differ depending on where you are at, be it the United States or foreign waters. Having an operating basic marine radio or VHF radio on board your boat is important so be sure to check yours for proper functioning regularly and conduct repairs as needed.
Times of Day When Hailing a Port is Required
There are rules regarding when to hail a port. Generally, the hail message is written first and then sent. Under United States Coast Guard mandates, there are certain times during the day when hailing a port is required. This depends on the size of your boat and are as follows:
- Boats that are 65 feet or longer must hail a port at least once every four hours
- Boats under 65 feet must hail a port at least every two hours
- At night, hailing a port is required once every hour (one hour after sunset until one hour before daybreak)
- Anytime you depart
Accessing a Hailing Port
Hailing ports can be found all over the world and you can use an online interactive map to locate the nearest port to your location. You can also use this online map to determine if the port is open and accessible or if you need to find another nearby hailing port.
When you purchase a boat, you must declare a hailing port. If you need help with this process, including finding the proper forms and submitting them, contact the Vessel Registrar Center today to get started.