HarrytheKid

Handheld VHF Marine Radio Question

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Thinking about adding a VHF radio to my center console. Anyone have any experience with a handheld? Would be a lot easier than mounting a fixed unit. Would appreciate any input. 
Thanks

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VHF broadly works on line of sight, so your range is as far as you can see (handheld held at mouth height) whereas a mounted unit with an antenna of sorts would be heaps taller and hence longer range. Handhelds are typically 3/6 watts strong whereas mounted are 25w.
 

Opinion - For an extra $50 get the mounted, then a handheld as a backup when circumstances allow. 

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1 hour ago, HarrytheKid said:

Thinking about adding a VHF radio to my center console. Anyone have any experience with a handheld? Would be a lot easier than mounting a fixed unit. Would appreciate any input. 
Thanks

 

A fixed mount VHF with a nice 8' antenna mounted as high as you can get it is one of the most important pieces of equipment you can have on your boat.

 

Do that first, and then buy a handheld as a backup should you lose all power over the whole boat.

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The radio is often seen as a means of casual communication  or for making passing arrangements, but more importantly, it’s a lifeline in the event of an emergency. Being able to reach help can mean the difference between life and death. Sounds a bit exaggerated, but it’s true. Like Joey said, fixed mount and handheld backup. 

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I would say a cell phone is much more valuable for communications..I can call 911 or sea tow from wherever I am, my marine radio is good for maybe 5 miles. I carry both,but the cell is my first call. Get a waterproof case BTW.

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a handheld vhf is 5 watts, fixed is 25.  Add the antenna factor and you just answered, as the others have, your question

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1 hour ago, John P said:

I would say a cell phone is much more valuable for communications..I can call 911 or sea tow from wherever I am, my marine radio is good for maybe 5 miles. I carry both,but the cell is my first call. Get a waterproof case BTW.

Depends on where you fish.  Once you get much more than 5 miles or so off the beach, cell service is uncertain.

 

Better to  have a fixed VHF and a Garmmin inReach for satellite communication.  Leave the Garmin in track mode, and someone on shore gets updates on your position every 10 mmutes, and you can send texts from literally anywhere if you need to advise that you're coming in late, break down etc.  Plus it has an emergency SOS feature that transmits your position, again by satellite.

 

Another problem with cell phones is that it's difficult for a responder to pinpoint a caller's exact position.  VHF lends itself to radio direction finding.

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1 hour ago, John P said:

I would say a cell phone is much more valuable for communications..I can call 911 or sea tow from wherever I am, my marine radio is good for maybe 5 miles. I carry both,but the cell is my first call. Get a waterproof case BTW.

Negative. A properly transmitting marine radio transmits to every boat that may be nearby and monitoring 16. If you’re on fire or sinking and make a phone call, you wait for that single responding vessel to get to you. Meanwhile, there’s a good Sam a quarter mile away that could relay information and/or get people on board their vessel if needed. I work for a marine response company, it’s how I make a living, and I’m telling you, in an emergency your best bet is a call over the radio, followed by the ability to provide GPS coordinates, not a vague description like “I’m off Cuttyhunk”. Once you’re in the water and the vessel is submerged you’re nearly impossible to see, and if you haven’t provided an accurate position, you may be toast.  

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2 mins ago, CWitek said:

Depends on where you fish.  Once you get much more than 5 miles or so off the beach, cell service is uncertain.

 

Better to  have a fixed VHF and a Garmmin inReach for satellite communication.  Leave the Garmin in track mode, and someone on shore gets updates on your position every 10 mmutes, and you can send texts from literally anywhere if you need to advise that you're coming in late, break down etc.  Plus it has an emergency SOS feature that transmits your position, again by satellite.

 

Another problem with cell phones is that it's difficult for a responder to pinpoint a caller's exact position.  VHF lends itself to radio direction finding.

Look who you're quoting.  Doubt beta boy leaves sight of land

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Just now, makorider said:

Look who you're quoting.  Doubt beta boy leaves sight of land

Perhaps not, but the original poster might, and he ought the get the full picture

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13 mins ago, CWitek said:

Perhaps not, but the original poster might, and he ought the get the full picture

agreed

@Seadogg makes the most valid point of all.  When chit hits the fan, you're busy.  You want the biggest bang for your buck, ie ears on the problem, regardless of where you are

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Thanks everyone for the replies. You have given me a lot to think about. Pretty sure I am going to install a fixed base unit. 

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2 hours ago, John P said:

I would say a cell phone is much more valuable for communications..I can call 911 or sea tow from wherever I am, my marine radio is good for maybe 5 miles. I carry both,but the cell is my first call. Get a waterproof case BTW.

Where are you getting service at? 

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I also have both. Fixed with a large antenna and a hand held. God forbid I ever have to bail, I can take the hand held with me. 

 

I have a 6 watt Cobra that floats with a built in GPS that allows DSC and a light. But its range is only 20 miles at best and maybe as little as 7. 

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