VHF radio question

gotsnodooksgotsnodooks New Smyrna Beach FlPosts: 56 Greenhorn
I'm new to the salt water scene (I'll have a lot more questions so please be patient with me) and my neighbor told me that before going offshore I need to get a VHF radio.  I obviously see the need for it but I've been looking at different ones and am really at a loss of what I really need.  I've looked at both handheld models and mounted radios.  I'm thinking of getting the Cobra Mr Hh600 (handheld) but after reading reviews of everything I'm not really sure about what to get.  I don't see myself going very far out (10 maybe 15 miles at absolute most) but I just want to make sure I have a good radio in the (hopefully unlikely) event I need it.  Any recommendations? Is the one I'm looking at sufficient?  Thanks!! 

Replies

  • polliwogpolliwog Posts: 262 Deckhand
    If you're out 15 miles you need a fix mounted radio with a relatively long antenna,  It;s all about the range. Over 10 miles is starting to stretch reception limits.  Most of the VHFs are pretty good, Standard Horizon is one I have used.
  • biglarbiglar Posts: 183 Deckhand
    polliwog said:
    If you're out 15 miles you need a fix mounted radio with a relatively long antenna,  It;s all about the range. Over 10 miles is starting to stretch reception limits.  Most of the VHFs are pretty good, Standard Horizon is one I have used.
    What he said.  Recently I was thinking about just that and did a bit of research on VHF antenna height vs. range and was shocked at how little real difference a 15 ft antenna made over an 8 ft one.  I think if you go more than about 10 miles or so, you'd want more options.
  • gandrfabgandrfab Posts: 20,965 AG
    VHF is a line of sight frequency. Antenna height helps with range.  

    Gestapo 

  • Tony RomaTony Roma Posts: 640 Officer
    You say you don’t see going further than 10-15 miles but trust me human nature will take over and before you know it you’ll be wanting to see what’s biting out at 16,17,18,22,30. Go fixed mount with the tallest you can afford or your boat can acomidate 
  • SloughSlough S.w. Ga./ St. JamesPosts: 5,034 Admiral
    Fixed mount with a hand held for back up.
    I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 3,476 Captain
    Handheld VHF radios are limited to 5 watts, a standard fixed mount radio has 25 watts of power so the fixed mount is what you need... I run a small skiff in hard commercial service and I've found that any new fixed mount VHF will do what's needed as long as it's correctly installed and hooked up to a decent antenna.  I use a "shorty" - a 6db whip antenna that's less than four feet long total (the Metz brand is a good starting point for "shorty" antennas..). The farther you go offshore the better and taller antenna you're going to need... but most coastal areas have very good coverage by your local Coast Guard radio stations... Their antenna is so tall that they're able to receive even a minimum antenna like I use... For me.. the only folks I'd ever want to talk to are the Coast Guard - and you can bet I won't be bothering them unless I'm in trouble or I'm on the scene where someone else is in trouble... 

    Handhelds are great as a second radio - particularly water-proof ones that can go in a ditch bag...
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • rehartlinerehartline Posts: 794 Officer
    If you have the right gps, think about a radio with DSC and connect the two. A handheld Is a good backup in case you have an electrical problem on your boat. It happened to a friend. Lost all power and pulled out his handheld and got help. You can also get a handheld with GPS and DSC. I recently got the Standard Horizon HX890. It’s a new 6 watt floating handheld with a lot of features. 
  • gotsnodooksgotsnodooks New Smyrna Beach FlPosts: 56 Greenhorn
    Tony Roma said:
     human nature will take over and before you know it you’ll be wanting to see what’s biting out at 16,17,18,22,30. 
    I'm sure this will be the case at some point lol
  • gotsnodooksgotsnodooks New Smyrna Beach FlPosts: 56 Greenhorn
    Thanks for the input everyone.  I didn't even consider having a back-up radio but since everyone mentioned it ... it seems a no brainer.  And maybe I'm being a bit ambitious with my 10-15 miles out.  I'll likely stay very close until I really start getting comfortable in open water.
  • gandrfabgandrfab Posts: 20,965 AG
    10 miles, how far can you swim? with or against current and wind?
    You opened with "new to the salt water scene" Have you given a ditch bag any thought? 
    Gestapo 

  • cortrcortr Posts: 121 Deckhand
    Good idea to have a fixed mount as well as handheld for backup. DSC feature is great if you need to transmit gps location in a hurry or in emergency
  • GarysmoGarysmo Ft. Pierce, FloridaPosts: 1,058 Officer
    Definitely fixed mount.  There is a formula (I can't remember it right now) that will let you calculate the distance you will get.   That being said I would go for an 8ft antenna.  I just outfitted my new boat and the people at theGPSstore.com were very helpful.  Let's just say "they forgot more than I know".  The store is in NC but you can call them and they are very helpful on the phone and they were patient with my "dumb" questions.  It might be worth a call just to get some advise.....they were not pressure sales at all. 

    Also as CORTR suggested its a great idea to have the handheld in a ditch bag.   Good luck.
  • gandrfabgandrfab Posts: 20,965 AG
    I have been on a VHF radio with the Jacksonville Coast Guard land based radio tower while on a boat 30 miles east of Ponce inlet.
    Radio Line of Sight Calculator/VHF/UHF
    http://www.hamuniverse.com/lineofsightcalculator.html
    Gestapo 

  • gotsnodooksgotsnodooks New Smyrna Beach FlPosts: 56 Greenhorn
    Thanks for all the additional info.  I'm taking in all of it I can.  Definitely a lot more to be aware of than when I go out on the lakes and river.
  • K-DawgK-Dawg Posts: 216 Deckhand
    In addition to the required safety gear:

    1. Fixed-mount VHF with an antenna mounted as high as you can (antenna length doesn't matter much) Connect the radio to a GPS unit if the radio doesn't have built-in GPS
    2. Handheld VHF preferably with GPS
    3. Register a MMSI and input into both radios
    4. EPIRB (register this device as well)
  • BarrellBarrell Posts: 1,200 Officer
    Your on your own when offshore. Somedays there are other boats around but somedays there is no one but you. I wouldnt get a radio without DSC and AIS. I also wont head out the inlet without a PLB.
  • larrywittlarrywitt Posts: 2,718 Moderator
    Slough said:
    Fixed mount with a hand held for back up.
    This is the way to go,   if the boat batt. goes dead you are still good. Check them both by sending and receiving each other for correct operation.
    larrywitt
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 10,553 AG
    8 db over 6db and 9 over 8..
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • cftsmokecftsmoke JacksonvillePosts: 208 Deckhand
    K-Dawg said:
    In addition to the required safety gear:

    1. Fixed-mount VHF with an antenna mounted as high as you can (antenna length doesn't matter much) Connect the radio to a GPS unit if the radio doesn't have built-in GPS
    2. Handheld VHF preferably with GPS
    3. Register a MMSI and input into both radios
    4. EPIRB (register this device as well)
    The above is mandatory because bad things happen.  Since 50-60m out happens a few times a year for me, I also have a sat phone I put on the console.  I’m a safety guy and don’t swim all that well.  If my problem is mechanical but not an emergency, I’ll call for help as opposed to firing off the plb.  
    2005 Everglades 290 Pilot.  Twin 250 Verados.
Sign In or Register to comment.