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Sea Tow Adds Automated Radio Checks, Wants More


Sea Tow, which instituted a system for getting automated radio checks a few years ago, says it now has 130 locations across the U.S.

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. simply tune the radio to the local Automated Radio Check channel, key the mike, and ask for a radio check. They will hear an automated response and their request is played back to them, allowing them to confirm that 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 newest Sea Tow Automated Radio Check stations include: Oceanside, California; New Orleans; Baltimore; Suttons Bay, Traverse City, Leeland and Northport, Michigan; Rainy River, Red Wing, Stillwater and Bayport, Minnesota; Pamlico Sound, Supply and Southport, North Carolina; Coles Point, Virginia; Lake Washington and Friday Harbor, Washington; and Prescott, Milwaukee, and Pepin, Wisconsin.

Over the past year, several locations have been activated in Midwestern states thanks to the assistance of District 10 of the United States Power Squadron (USPS). In addition, the USPS has teamed up with Sea Tow to help promote this boating safety service by giving out Automated Radio Check decals to attendees of their educational and fun boating courses, seminars and events held across the country. Anyone who gets a USPS Vessel Safety Check will receive a decal as well. To find a USPS course or event near you, visit

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 that¹s 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," 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 Sea Tow Automated Radio Check hosts are invited to e-mail or call 631-876-5077.

About Sea Tow's Automated Radio Check Service

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.