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VHF for a small open boat? Opinions please!

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VHF for a small open boat? Opinions please!

Old 07-19-2004, 11:44 PM
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Default VHF for a small open boat? Opinions please!

I'm outfitting a 16" open dory with a small side console for fishing LI Sound.

I had planned on using a handheld VHF, but after hanging around THT for a bit realize that it might be a good idea to have one mounted in the console.

Console space is at a premium, so I'd like something relatively compact. It's going to have to be waterproof. Also, are any made like the car radios that can be pulled from the dash so I can take it with me when the boat is unattended?

How large an antenna will I need for LI Sound ( it's 21 miles across at it's widest point and no more than 15 where I fish so I won't be more than 8 miles from land).

I hear good things about Horizon handhelds, are their mounted VHF's as good? What about their "Eclipse" model? I see it on sale for $150, is it a quality radio?

Or should I just stick with the handheld?


Thanks, Rob
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Old 07-20-2004, 06:49 AM
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Default RE: VHF for a small open boat? Opinions please!

When discussing Marine VHF radios, there are really only 2 manufacturers to choose between, ICOM or STANDARD HORIZON. I give the nod to ICOM, personally.

I installed an ICOM -302 on my friend's boat and was very impressed with it.

It has all the exceptional performance that you would expect from a high quality VHF and has an improved speaker over the more popular M-402. It is also DSC capable, which is a strong safety consideration. It is really compact, and will not take up much room at all.

I don't know about slide in mounts, but I imagine that with a little ingenuity you could fashion one. Most boaters I know, that are concerned about theft, usually just mount the radio to the top or side of the console and use the supplied bracket. At the end of the day, they loosen the mounting knobs, detach the power leads and RF cable, and take it home.

If budget is a concern, shop around for an ICOM M45. It is a discontinued model that is still available and will be fully warranteed. They were available recently, for as little as $99. I do not like to talk about scrimping when it comes to a VHF since safety is at stake, but the M45 is a terrific litlle radio that has a proven track record.

As far as an antenna, a transmitter is only as good as the antenna it is attached to, And it doesn't get better than a DIGITAL brand antenna. Height is another factor that can't be overlooked. Get an 8 foot DIGITAL antenna (529VB or W). These can be had for about $125 and will outperform the Shakeapeare equivalents by a long shot.

Hope this helps a bit!

Where on Long Island Sound do you fish?
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Old 07-20-2004, 08:45 AM
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Default RE: VHF for a small open boat? Opinions please!

ICOM-302 with Digital Antenna ...... worth the up front bucks ....... BWP
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Old 07-20-2004, 11:05 AM
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Default RE: VHF for a small open boat? Opinions please!

Thanks for the advice. Any idea where you saw the M45 for $99? The best I can seem to find it for is $149, same for the 302.


I'll be launching out of the Norwalk Islands area.

Rob
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Old 07-20-2004, 11:11 AM
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Default RE: VHF for a small open boat? Opinions please!

The good handhelds will cover over 10 miles with FULLY charged batteries, so if you are just going to turn it on for a short while, this will work fine. But if you want to listen to chatter for longer periods, then you should keep some extra batteries in a ziplock bag for the handheld, or think about a fixed mount radio, and an antenna from 5-8 feet long with SS mounting hardware to reach out 15+ miles all day long.
Some fixed radios also have speakers and channel changers in the mike, so that you can leave just the monitor visible under the console, and mount the clip and microphone up top if space is limited. I had a $200 waterproof Hummingbird with gold coated electrical contacts on a real wet 17' that worked and held up very well for me, but I am sure the other guys can recommend something a little more modern, cheaper, and more compact. Do a search on Handhelds on this forum, as their is a lot of good info that´s already been disscussed at length on the electronics forum.
Nos Vemos.
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Old 07-20-2004, 11:50 AM
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Default RE: VHF for a small open boat? Opinions please!

I've got the Icom 402 with a Shakspeare Galaxy 8'. A Digital 8' 529 VW is on the way to replace the Shakespeare as the Digital comes highly recommended from this board.

I was sitting within hearing of a friends boat and his VHF was picking up and mine wasn't. Figured I would try the new antenna.

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Old 07-20-2004, 12:19 PM
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Default RE: VHF for a small open boat? Opinions please!

I have an Icom 402S on the side console of our small Whaler under the wheel. Two thumbscrews hold it to the mount, and all you have to do is unplug the antenna, 12VDC and ground wires, and NMEA to GPS cable to remove it. A 4' Digital 528 is mounted up on the rear bow of the bimini with a ratchet rail-mount. It can be vertical whether the bimini is fully deployed, folded back in the "radar arch" position, or folded fully forward.





I've gotten a good radio check 15 miles straight out from the Coast Guard Station. It and the compass were the first upgrades we made to the boat.

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