Re: Choosing/spec'ing VHF radio?
OK, need a little more info about your boat. Do you have a plotter? Are you comfortable wiring things together at the level of soldering wires together?
Personally, I'd avoid radios with AIS, because I'm a strong believer in having an AIS transceiver that sends and receives. AIS in the radio is nice but not worth the $$ imho if you are going to buy a transmitter anyway.
easiest to use just add power would be the standard horizon gx1700 with gps.
My personal favorite is the SH 1600.
ANd I'm a big fan of NEMA 2000 for easy integration ot a plotter, so that would be the new Lowrances on a budget or simrads/Garmin if not.