Do I need VHF?

Disclaimer: All Information on the Group is given in good faith but is used entirely at your own risk.

This document contains:

  • Information from a recent discussion with the Harbourmaster
  • The list of relevant VHF channels for the tidal Trent
  • ABP Bylaws (Official Guidance for north of Gainsborough)
  • The views of local boaters

Last updated: 6th March 2022

A discussion with the Duty Officer at Humber Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) on 9th February 2022 indicated that craft proceeding downstream only as far as Keadby Lock that are not fitted with VHF should call Humber VTS by telephone (01482 327171) with their ETA at Keadby,1 hour before passing under Keadby bridge. They will then be notified of any shipping movements between Keadby Bridge and the Lock.

Humber VTS expect that vessels passing downstream of Keadby will comply with ABP Byelaws (set out below).

This arrangement may be reviewed if significant commercial trade returns to the Trent above Keadby.

This table lists the main channels in use on the tidal Trent. If you have a VHF set you may wish to set it to scan these channels.

VHF channelDescription
74CRT locks: Cromwell. Torksey, West Stockwith, Keadby
15Calling and listening channel, below Gainsborough
6Above Gainsborough
17Trent wharves
16Calling and Emergency channel (may not be monitored much inland)
ABP Bylaws: VHF watch to be maintained

9. (1) In this Byelaw references to Areas (i), (ii), and (iii) are references to the areas respectively described in sub-paragraphs (i), (ii), and (iii) of the definition of “the Humber” in Byelaw 4(1) hereof.
(2) (Note 3) Subject to the provisions of paragraph (c) of this Byelaw, the master of a power-driven vessel underway shall maintain a continuous listening watch on the appropriate VHF channel for the area in which he is navigating as specified below:-
Area (i) -Channel 14
Area (ii) (downstream of Keadby Bridge) -Channel 8
Area (ii) (upstream of Keadby Bridge) -Channel 6
Area (iii) -Channel 12
(3) The master of a power-driven vessel who is using an operational radio channel for berthing purposes need not comply with the provisions of paragraph (b) of this Byelaw but shall maintain a dual listening watch on VHF Channel 16 (International Distress Frequency).

(The following note does not form part of the Byelaws.)

Note 3 Byelaw 9(2): The VHF channels referred to in this paragraph have changed. The channels are now as follows:
Area (i) Channel 15
Area (ii) (Upstream and downstream of Keadby Bridge) Channel 15
Area (iii) (Upstream of Humber Bridge) Channel 15
Area (iii) (Downstream of Humber Bridge to the meridian of longitude which passes through the No. 4A (Clee Ness) Light Float in the Lower Humber) Channel 12
Area (iii) (Downstream of the meridian of longitude which passes through the No. 4A (Clee Ness) Light Float in the Lower Humber) Channel 14

Views of local boaters

I used to use just a mobile phone but then got the VHF installed and did the course for a license.
I’ve found the VHF far superior. Lockies seem to answer far more promptly than the phone. Also, it’s really handy to listen what’s going on with other boaters. Had warnings of shallows over the VHF when other boats have heard us approaching. And has been mentioned above, you really should have a VHF on the ABP section. Given the size of ships moving around there, it’s quite dodgy not to have!
Finally, I really enjoy using the VHF – takes me back to my cadet days!
If I was visiting I wouldnt bother, maybe, but its just another precaution, On the upside my handheld is cheaper to replace if it takes a swim than my phone
I did the licence as soon as we moved the boat onto the Trent back in 2013. We’ve got a Standard Horizon HX290 Floating Handheld and that does us just fine on the narrowboat. No issues at all with reaching the lockies on our usual non-tidal habitat, nor on our occasional forays up to Torksey and the Fossdyke
We have hand held radios and the Trent lockies are far the best we have experienced and knowledgeable across the system. Always answer and full of information and advice. They always radio ahead to let the next lockie know you are coming and you can radio ten minutes ahead.. to let them know you are coming…we wouldn’t do it without radio’s. Although people do with phones

See also this Notice to Mariners