Sea Tow expanding automated radio checks


Looking to do your part as a volunteer, providing a service that keeps giving year-round? Sea Tow may have a gig for you.

The marine assistance provider is expanding its network of automated radio check (ARC) stations, which now number more than 130 nationwide. Provided in partnership with MariTEL, the free service allows boaters to quickly confirm that their VHF radio is working.

For voyagers who may be out of the loop regarding ARC, the protocol is simple: Just tune your radio to the local ARC channel (24, 26, 27 or 28, depending on your community), key the mic and ask for a radio check. You'll get an automated response that will let you assess transmission strength without angering the Coast Guard by requesting a check on VHF 16.

The network has grown steadily since it was introduced in 2011 and Sea Tow wants keep adding to it. An ARC station requires only a programmed controller box, 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," says Jim Foley, ARC program manager. "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 hosts are invited to email or call 631-876-5077.

By Ocean Navigator