VHF Radio - What Marinas or NPS Stations Are Monitoring?

#1
Anyone know of a map that shows what marinas or NPS stations are monitoring VHF marine channel 16 or other channels on Lake Powell, specifically north lake area? I realize in a lake that size it may be more optimal to hope other boaters are listening and that may help, but I'm interested in knowing more official locations that will have a better chance of someone listening. My questions are specifically for areas north of Halls Crossing like Good Hope Bay area. We fished there last week and I felt pretty isolated and some risk without cell phone coverage and at mile marker 125, I was 32 miles north from Halls Crossing/Bullfrog area. With Hite presumably all closed down, I'm wondering if having a VHF radio would only provide a false sense of safety. Assuming I have a 25W fixed mount with 3-4ft antenna, how far really could that go from Good Hope Bay?

Related topics...
DSC radios tuned to common channel: https://wayneswords.net/threads/keep-dsc-equipped-vhf-radios-turned-on-24-7.690
Antenna height question: https://wayneswords.net/threads/antenna-question-4-or-8.1304/
 

Gem Morris

Well-Known Member
#3
I think NPS have repeaters all over the lake maybe I’m wrong but I bet they are able to monitor the entire lake
X2. The real question is can your radio reach them? I hear a lot of one-sided conversations. That’s the park service responding to someone that I can’t hear.
 

Endurance

Well-Known Member
#4
My experience has been the same as jimmybame's and Gem's. Even though I have only had to call NPS a handful of times in 46 years of boating at Powell, I can't think of a place on the lake where I haven't been able to hear NPS. Most of this experience is with a 3' or 4' whip that I had mounted to the high point of the windshield of my ski boat. I have since added a tower and put the antenna on top of that, but NPS had good enough coverage that I was able to speak with them with the antenna on the windshield frame.

I recall one conversation in the Cha Canyon area of the San Juan where a boat called the Warlock tore off their outdrive and was sinking. It was kind of sad as the Warlock gave updates on the rising water before signing off as the water was about to top their battery. Thankfully, NPS was able to get in touch with the Trash Tracker that happened to be in the area to render aid to the sinking Warlock.
 
Last edited:
#5
Oh interesting, so that's good news I didn't realize they had repeaters and availability at such places up north like Good Hope where it seems there isn't a marina but 30 miles away. I'm looking to get a nice Standard Horizon GX1700 w/GPS fixed mount 25W radio with a 4ft antenna. The antenna thread seemed to go back and forth but seemed to indicate 3-4ft may be ok or even better with the canyon walls at Powell as it has a wider distribution. I only wanted to make the purchase and install if I felt it would work up north lake.
 
#7
A valid point. I'm more interested in the "oh crap boat motor won't run I need a tow before dark". Not sure though the hours of any tow company from Bullfrog/Halls but would research that ahead of time. Trying to avoid not planning for issues and ending up staying overnight unprotected on main channel. Or finding a canyon and being stuck there indefinitely. Obviously can tell fellow fisherman where we are but often move canyons and fish many places and not all boaters have cell access or radios installed.
 

Squirrel

Well-Known Member
#9
Oh interesting, so that's good news I didn't realize they had repeaters and availability at such places up north like Good Hope where it seems there isn't a marina but 30 miles away. I'm looking to get a nice Standard Horizon GX1700 w/GPS fixed mount 25W radio with a 4ft antenna. The antenna thread seemed to go back and forth but seemed to indicate 3-4ft may be ok or even better with the canyon walls at Powell as it has a wider distribution. I only wanted to make the purchase and install if I felt it would work up north lake.
Let me know how the GX1700 works out for you. I have to replace the low end Cobra I have now. It worked line of sight, but other than that, it was useless with an 8' Shakespear antenna. You get what you pay for I guess. Sq
 

Lance Cue

Well-Known Member
#10
Oh interesting, so that's good news I didn't realize they had repeaters and availability at such places up north like Good Hope where it seems there isn't a marina but 30 miles away. I'm looking to get a nice Standard Horizon GX1700 w/GPS fixed mount 25W radio with a 4ft antenna. The antenna thread seemed to go back and forth but seemed to indicate 3-4ft may be ok or even better with the canyon walls at Powell as it has a wider distribution. I only wanted to make the purchase and install if I felt it would work up north lake.
I just installed that same radio in my boat and am looking at the 4' antenna, possibly on a 2' extention but the extention costs as much as the antenna! Hope it will be a good setup.
 

PowellBride

Well-Known Member
#11
The few times we needed assistance, where there wasn’t a medical emergency, it’s always been fellow boaters to the rescue! Even with a marine radio, up past mile marker 120, when we needed help we radioed on 16 for over an hour before a fellow boater, not NPS or Exec services, responded. Guy was great, was heading to Bullfrog the next morning and willing to tow us then with his speedboat. Spent an unexpected night sleeping in our speedboat.

ExecServices operates on 18, so you could try that as well if hailing. Also not a bad idea to call in advance and leave a CC on file. They won’t leave the dock til they have it and you don’t want to be shouting that over the radio.

Also, if you’re hailing without success, try providing your location as well as boat name “this is boat x, at MM 125”, someone close by may help, or ask any boater hearing you if they will try to relay for you. I kept moving up and down river about 2 miles to relay between a broken down boat and NPS once. (It was late and I couldn’t get to the boat without endangering my boat and passengers, and the boat in question was not in imminent danger)
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
#12
AS PowellBride stated you're real connection is other boaters. Many of us monitor 16. Even injuries may be addressed by fellow boaters untill NPS or life flight arrives. This is a no joke lake, it will spank you if you are stupid. My #1 rule is don't be stupid because it will ruin your and my trip. I do not like my trip to be ruined by stupidity. Maybe that is the key,don't be stupid. Get it?
 

Lance Cue

Well-Known Member
#13
AS PowellBride stated you're real connection is other boaters. Many of us monitor 16. Even injuries may be addressed by fellow boaters untill NPS or life flight arrives. This is a no joke lake, it will spank you if you are stupid. My #1 rule is don't be stupid because it will ruin your and my trip. I do not like my trip to be ruined by stupidity. Maybe that is the key,don't be stupid. Get it?
Safety 3rd is my motto! Lol, got it.
 

GregC

Well-Known Member
#14
According to the LAW (which doesn't seem to be much of a "thing" in this country anymore), IF you have a VHF radio installed in your boat, you MUST monitor channel 16 or 9 while you are under way. That's why most radios manufactured these days scan two channels. The idea being that one of them is 16 (or 9). At least at the north end of the lake, the fuel docks monitor 9. The bulk of the remaining 60 0r 70 channels are reserved for special purposes, which are useful on the coasts and other busy waterways but not so much at Powell. A very few are set aside for "ship to ship". Some are "Ship to Shore" and are used by boat services, rental outfits (Aramark and Antelope Point for example) and several were set aside for radio-to phone service (once upon a long time ago, you could do this at Powell!!)

The way we (and, I think, most people) do it is to "call" or "hail" the other person (or boat name) on 16 and then switch to 68 (the unofficial
Waynes Words channel, chosen out of the blue by Gem I think, a long time ago). Once you are moored for the night (or days or whatever) you can turn the radio off. We choose to leave it on until we go to bed, just in case someone gets in trouble and really needs some help. We also have a hand held radio for hiking and use on the dingy when it's away fishing.

If you do have boat trouble and call for a tow (at least on the north end) don't expect them (licensed "Captains" no less) to know the law. They're too special, and use 14 or something to try and make contact with you, as if you're supposed to know. Grr. Personal experience showing here.

GregC
 

PowellBride

Well-Known Member
#15
GregC is right about the tow captains using 14 when they are enroute to finding you. Though after they search fruitlessly for you for 30 minutes, all the while you are hailing on 16, they do seem to switch from 14 to 16 to find you. Once they get to you, you mention you were hailing on 16, and they will notchalently say, oh we were on 14. If they are coming for you, be prepared to give them VERY specific details about where you are (always knowing MM or nearest canyon is a good plan)

On a more fun note! I remember sitting around the dinner table late at night listening to many "radio to phone" calls.
Guy: Hi honey, over.
Women: Hi - are you having fun.
Guy: Yes, we caught a lot of fish today -Over.
Women: Why do you keep saying over
Guy - Cause we're on a marine radio and when you're done talking you say "over", over
Women - That doesn't make sense, who over
Guy: I don't know, thats just what you do, over
Too funny

Everything from it's snowing at home, to I'm divorcing you. Hours of cheap entertainment
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
#16
Not cheap for the ones getting divorced haha. When I was doing chase calls for the rental fleet at Stateline, our radio operator would ask where the person asking for assistance was, and over and over the answer would be " we are behind a big red rock". Knowing where you are is critical if you need help. I feel dumb even saying that.
 

PowellBride

Well-Known Member
#17
Not cheap for the ones getting divorced haha. When I was doing chase calls for the rental fleet at Stateline, our radio operator would ask where the person asking for assistance was, and over and over the answer would be " we are behind a big red rock". Knowing where you are is critical if you need help. I feel dumb even saying that.
I'm sure there are two sides to the story about finding boaters needing a tow. We rescued a boat that was out of gas, at the entrance to Halls Creek last year - on a weekend. Dozens of boats just ignoring them flagging for help. Turned out they had No map, (6 kids from 2 to 14), had a houseboat at Oak Canyon, planned to get gas at DR, but never saw the marina, and ended up at mile MM 98 without realizing it. We got them to the gas station and gave them an old map. If it weren't for the kids, I might have let Darwinism play out.
 

birdsnest

Well-Known Member
#19
I
I'm sure there are two sides to the story about finding boaters needing a tow. We rescued a boat that was out of gas, at the entrance to Halls Creek last year - on a weekend. Dozens of boats just ignoring them flagging for help. Turned out they had No map, (6 kids from 2 to 14), had a houseboat at Oak Canyon, planned to get gas at DR, but never saw the marina, and ended up at mile MM 98 without realizing it. We got them to the gas station and gave them an old map. If it weren't for the kids, I might have let Darwinism play out.
I'm with you on that. If we let it play out there would probably be 100 boats at the back of Last Chance thinking they are at the end of the lake. Only takes missing one turn.
 

PowellBride

Well-Known Member
#20
Maybe more signage in Last Chance would help, say at the mouth AND 3-5 miles in; about the time someone wonders if they made the right turn) I don't get south very often, but I ALWAYS get confused in Padre Bay when I'm coming from the north. And I like to think I'm pretty good at directions