Handheld VHF Radio Introduction
Marine VHF Radios are your communications link with other boaters, the Coast Guard and local police. If you are in trouble, your radio may be your only practical means of requesting assistance. Although they are not legally required to be carried on recreational vessels, it only makes sense to have one on board. Portable VHF radios make sense for small boats and as a back-up for fixed VHF radios which may not be operational in an emergency situation.
Although there are some new and worthwhile features, the basic VHF products have been around for a long time. This implies a stable, mature technology that should be very reliable.
The radio’s display indicates the working channel and other features. Large, easy-to-read digits and a clear indication of the radio’s status and feature settings differentiate the various models available.
Radios purchased from a legitimate dealer in your region will have the appropriate channels for your area. Be aware that the channels vary in different parts of the world. Avoid the temptation to buy a discounted radio from another region, as most cannot be reprogrammed.
Choosing Your VHF Radio
There are many well-made radios available. Although the printed specifications are all very similar there are differences in build quality and reliability. That is what you are paying for. Review the Comparison guide and feature list carefully and choose the radio that meets your needs.
Many features are available on VHF radios. Not all of them will be important to you. These features include:
- Waterproof. Several levels of “waterproof” exist. Some are only designed, and rated, to be exposed to spray and rain, others are submersible. This rating is referred to as the IP rating. For more details of IP rating and the level of protection they refer to use the following link http://www.aquatext.com/tables/ip_ratings.htm
- Dedicated priority channel key.
- Various display sizes and resolutions. Generally proportional with price.