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If you have a life-threatening emergency, have everyone put on life jackets and issue a MAYDAY call on Channel 16.

Channel 16 is a calling and distress channel only and should not be used for conversation or radio checks. It can be used to make contact with another station (boat), but the communication then should move to a non-emergency channel such as 68 or 69. Penalties exist for misuse of a radio, including improper use of VHF Channel 16.

To issue a MAYDAY call on Channel 16 of your VHF radio:
  1. Transmit "MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY."
  2. Say "This is (name of boat three times, call letters once)."
  3. Repeat once more "MAYDAY" and your boat's name.
  4. Report your location.
  5. Report the nature of your emergency.
  6. Report the kind of assistance needed.
  7. Report the number of people on board and condition of any injured.
  8. Describe the boat and its seaworthiness.
  9. Wait for a response. If there is none, repeat the message.