-- Last Updated: Aug-30-13 10:57 AM EST --
either all of the channels you tag, or dual or triple scan. Your manual will explain how to set it up.
The WX channels will tune to your local marine broadcast frequencies. Often you can pick up a couple unless you are remote. Pick the clearest one. Which channel it is will vary from location to location, so click through them if you are paddling somewhere else that is some distance away from your normal area (e.g mid ChesBay vs lower NC coast).
For communications, 16 is the primary hailing frequency and 9 is the the alternate. If you broadcast on 16, say for a general announcement, or calling someone when you don't know what channel they are on, move to another channel after you establish contact. Beside hailing, it is the primary safety and emergency channel.
The general pleasure boating use channels are 67, 68, 69, 71, 72, (9 is actually included but is more of a hailing than general communication channel).
You can set your radio to scan 16 (always a good idea) your general group communication channel, and a weather channel if you wish. However, the ICOMs will also detect weather special alert broadcasts when in dual or triple scan mode whether set or not. I usually use 16, 9 or 22a (depending on if is an active day for USCG announcements; they will broadcast a general statement then switch to Two Two Alpha for followup details) and our group's communication channel.
Here are a couple of good guides to general Marine VHF use and protocols:
Paddler's Truck Rack
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