RYA VHF Radio Course

Your VHF course pre-course reading

Below are resources which are designed to prepare you for your VHF Course at Penzance Sailing Club.

When you come to our DSC VHF course we would ask you to bring the following items:
– A notebook
– Pen / Pencil
– One passport sized photo
– Cheque book (for RYA fee)


During our course you will learn about different parts of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) which incorporates a number of different electric methods of calling for help and receiving important information.

At the heart of GMDSS (particularly for small vessels) is the VHF DSC Radio. The operation of this radio will be the focus of this course.

How DSC VHF work?

Watch this video which highlights the basics.

Pre-course resources

During the course we will use specially adapted radios, which do not transmit. This allows us to practice all of the different types of alerts, announcements, calls and messages.

DO NOT practice sending distress alerts or urgency or safety announcements and messages on normal radios.

LEARN: If you see the word “learn” in red on this website it indicates something you need to learn by heart before the course starts.

However, the more of the content on these pages that you learn before the course, the easier you will find the course on the day.



The content of these pages is put together in good faith and is constantly evolving. It is possible that errors exist within this content.

If you spot an error or would like to add anything to these pages please contact us via email.

Reading the content of these pages is not a substitute for completing a RYA SRC Course or similar.