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Thread: Basic VHF radio

  1. #1
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    Default Basic VHF radio

    I am looking for advice on a basic VHF radio for my Ninigret.
    GPS I have on my fish finder, so not needed on the radio.
    Some days I may be out 10 miles or more so I really think I should stick with a 25 watt unit rather than a handheld.
    Lots of information overload out there that I really don't understand...or need to maybe... NMEA crap...stuff like that...
    A basic radio for safety, weather reports, and communicating with fishing buddies is what I'm after.
    Last edited by timo4352; 11-19-2021 at 12:30 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    Tim, can your fishfinder/GPS display an AIS overlay? If can display AIS based on a NEMA feed then it might be worth looking into a VHF with that capability. While I hear your goal to keep things simple, AIS is really useful to have, especially if you will be in any areas with significant commercial traffic. Skookum Maru has a Standard Horizon GX series VHF with GPS and AIS. It can also provide a GPS and AIS feed to a laptop or tablet chartplotter if you decided that you wanted something like that in the future.
    - Chris

    Any single boat project will always expand to encompass the set of all possible boat projects.

    Life is short. Go boating now!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    I have always Icoms, both handheld and fixed base units. They always work. I'm not familiar with the newer models but I bet you can get a no-frills base unit for a decent pice. Put the savings into a decent epirb.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    Just out of curiosity: where in the world are you boating? What are the operator licensing regulations involved?
    I am out in coastal waters once a year and wonder whether it is worth going through all the red tape required here in Germany, then investing in a handheld (fixed unit is overkill on a Mirror dinghy) just for that additional bit of safety. Up to now we have relied on mobile phones and PMR units (formely called CB radio).
    Looking forward to following this thread.

    Gernot H.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    Lake Erie. Ohio, USA.
    Already I can see there is a lot I don't know about this stuff....
    Simply checking out 'what is AIS' ... I ended up on a USCG Dept of Homeland Security page.....!
    This is getting deep
    Please continue to educate me...
    Thanks

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    Tim, AIS is a system of tracking vessel position using GPS and VHF:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automa...ication_system

    Virtually every commercial vessel, and many recreational ones as well, use it. The position display can be overlaid on a chart plotter to show location and bearing for vessels that broadcast over AIS. It's not perfect and it won't show you every boat on the water but if you boat anywhere near commercial traffic I think it's essential.

    Out here I use it to check for ferry traffic in the ferry lanes, and commercial traffic in the VTS lanes. It's not a substitute for a proper lookout of course, but it can give you a heads up for vessel traffic that you might not be able to see. For example, last year we were heading up Possession Sound in the dark at around 0400. Using AIS I could see that there was a freighter coming around Possession Head behind us well before they were in view, and I moved over to stay out of their way.

    I don't think you have to go down a rabbit hole of technology and I agree that simple systems are best. But there are some basic systems that are really worth having and AIS is one of them. I even use an AIS app on my phone when I am rowing on Puget Sound to monitor shipping traffic. Since the ships are really fast, and the boats I have are all really slow - whether human powered or otherwise - it's good to know where things are at all times.
    - Chris

    Any single boat project will always expand to encompass the set of all possible boat projects.

    Life is short. Go boating now!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    AIS stands for Automatic Identification System ... There are 2 classes, A and B... But it's basically a pinger on your boat that transmits (or transmits and receives) your boat ID, tonnage, direction of travel and other useful info.

    Get a basic DSC VHF radio that links to your GPS... When you are in any kind of serious shizzle you press a red button and your boat ID and position will be transmitted to the SAR services...fast. Think one button mayday...handy when when sinking. They are not expensive and may save your life.

    You can link your sounder, AIS, radio, GPS and Radar to a plotter that you have already loaded your charts onto, and it can overlay everything onto one screen should you wish. The linkage system is call NMEA.. it's how the separate units can be wired up so they talk to each other.

    An Epirb is also essential.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    Boating on the ocean is different than boating on inland lakes. On the ocean, everyone has a VHF and they always have it on. On inland lakes a cell phone is usually your best and only option.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryLL View Post
    Boating on the ocean is different than boating on inland lakes. On the ocean, everyone has a VHF and they always have it on. On inland lakes a cell phone is usually your best and only option.

    This has not been my experience on the Great Lakes. I’ve sailed on Superior, Huron and Michigan. Every boat I’ve been on bigger than a kayak has had a vhf.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    Glossary:

    VHF Range: Line of sight. Top of your antenna aboard a small boat might be ten foot above sea level. The range will be about 7 miles. ( Formula:
    SquareRoot (height above surface / 0.5736) = distance to horizon)

    Now, suppose I am on a similar boat with a similar antenna height. I also have 7 miles of range. We could converse being 14 miles apart. Get it? Your range depends upon the other antenna's height as well as yours.


    DSC: Digital Selective Calling: Allows private calls over radio. Enables connection to an automated distress system.

    MMSI:
    Marine Mobile Service Identifier: A number you apply for ( free) that you enter into your radio. The MMSI contains pertinen info like name, address, emergency contact, boat size, type and name , etc.

    Interface: "Connect." The GPS and VHF are interfaced--connected. Generally refers to standalone devices.

    NMEA: National Marine Electronics Association. Standards setting body for marine electronics operation, installation and repair.


    NMEA 2000: The network " protocol" or standard for marine electronics. It is a can-bus architecture that allows unlimited devices to share and display information. Some of these devices may be " stand alone," like a GPS unit or Stereo. But they need not be. A nettorked "fishfinder" can display the radar image, engine data, data from pumps or tanks or fire-fighting systems, a TV or really any other device on the network. Gateways for Blueooh and WiFi allow the NMEA 2000 network to talk to mobile and internet devices.



    I don't even think you can buy a new, built-in VHF without DSC. Here's how it works.In effect, you hit one button and all other DSC radios in range receive a distress call with all of your MMSI info and your location ( if interfaced to GPS). This frees you from making a proper Mayday call, which injured or panicked people may not be able to accomplish. It also frees you to plug the leak, put out the fire, stop the bleeding, etc...things difficult to do while making a MAYDAY call.

    My recommendation: You already have GPS. Buy the lowest end built-in VHF from the top brands, like either Standard or ICOM.* Connect your GPS ( this is easy--it's in the manual--it's one wire.) Register for an MMSI. Buy a middle-grade antenna ( about $80 bucks).




    * I bought a cheap, no-name VHF radio at Walmart when my Big Name radio quit the evening before an offshore fishing tournament. ( Marine elex place was closed for the evening) It was a placeholder, to get me through the weekend. I ended up using it without a hitch for seven years. I replaced it--still working fine--this year, when I got a good deal on a new big brand radio.

    This was the only time in 45 years of coastal boat ownership that cheap electronics ever served me well.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    Quote Originally Posted by Jfitzger View Post
    This has not been my experience on the Great Lakes. I’ve sailed on Superior, Huron and Michigan. Every boat I’ve been on bigger than a kayak has had a vhf.
    The Great Lakes are not your average inland lake. I sometimes wonder if those who haven't seen them, or sailed them, quite understands that...

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    Good luck, I haven’t found anything like that in a while! A few years ago they started to put “Features” into radios. Apparently the engineers who came up with the idea of adding these features have never used a radio before! Unfortunately everyone else had to outdo each other, I’d look for a used radio if I were you. I feel your pain had to replace all 3 of my wheelhouse radios over the last few years. The new ones have buttons on the mic that change the channel and this stupid DSC crap. To anyone who works for standard horizon or icom people don’t want any crap in a radio! Imagine if you missed a call from a ship working up astern of you because your Dsc crap made you ch13 radio change channels for some stupid CG message about manking false distress calls that your also getting on the CG 16 radio! Sorry to vent but I feel your pain sir!

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    Thanks guys.
    This gives me a little better understanding of what all this stuff means.
    And what I should look for to satisfy my needs.
    An inland sea might better describe any one of the great lakes.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    Well, I ordered an Icom M330.
    Reading the manual online it looks like it will not even operate without an MMSI number installed.
    So I'm researching that.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    Quote Originally Posted by timo4352 View Post
    Well, I ordered an Icom M330.
    Reading the manual online it looks like it will not even operate without an MMSI number installed.
    So I'm researching that.

    You can get the MMSI free through US Power Squadrons. https://www.usps.org/php/mmsi_new/index.php
    Other agencies charge a small fee, I believe.

    Once you have the MMSI number, putting into the radio is like entering a contact into you cellphone, not too hard.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    Hmmm....
    There is a chance I could be operating in Canadian waters at some time....
    I'll have to consider that I guess, as they are considering that 'international waters' by the sounds...

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    Quote Originally Posted by TerryLL View Post
    Boating on the ocean is different than boating on inland lakes. On the ocean, everyone has a VHF and they always have it on. On inland lakes a cell phone is usually your best and only option.
    heh heh not everyone
    i can't stand the squawk...rarely turn it on

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    mmm....
    There is a chance I could be operating in Canadian waters at some time....
    Then, you need a ship station license for the VHF whether you get an MMSI and use DSC and AIS or not. There are two FCC forms to fill out to get it. They are free and last 10 years.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    All Breakaway/Kevin's info is spot on, just as usual.

    I would guess that most fisherman in the Chesapeak Bay, commercial or otherwise have VHF radios.

    DCS can let your buddies know where the birds are hitting the water during rockfish season with out alerting the whole fleet.
    Skip

    ---This post is delivered with righteous passion and with a solemn southern directness --
    ...........fighting against the deliberate polarization of politics...

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Basic VHF radio

    My radio came on Wednesday.
    This thing is super compact, but I still won't have room to mount it in front of me...
    Probably will end up in the port side console.
    And I ordered up an 8 foot 6db gain antenna and the cable to connect the radio to my fish finder / GPS.

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