If you have your RROP get you licenses consolidated under a single FCC FRN. When you do get a boat use the same FRN for your ship station license.
So I just passed my Tech exam and should get my call sign in a few days.
For meaningful utility you should get your General class license.
You can listen on any frequency you want to.
Anyone can transmit on marine vhf
The ham license (three levels) gives you transmit privileges on ham frequencies and modes. You have to take a test.
The marine ssb license gives you transmit privileges on marine frequencies on ssb, you have to pay money.
Some boats carry both a marine ssb radio and a ham radio.
Some boats have a marine ssb radio that has been unlocked so it can transmit on ham frequencies. This is technically against the rules but it is almost impossible for anyone to know.
Some boats have a ham radio that can transmit on marine frequencies but they may be caught as the marine radios are built to a higher standard and some crusers have been fined and have had their radios confiscated.
Marine SSB radios are much easier to use than HAM.
Ham radios are much more flexible.
There is almost always a Ham operator monitoring frequencies.
Most cruisers turn their Marine radio on only when they are going to use it as it uses a lot of power. So their may be no one to hear you.
Marine ssb radios are more likely to survive the salt air. The Ham radios will probably rust out after a few years.
All correct with one caveat. Unlocking a marine radio that does not result in any change to the type-accepted radio (like the front panel unlock code for an Icom M802) is not, to my knowledge, even technically against the rules.
Modifying a ham radio for use on marine frequencies is indeed illegal and as you say means using a radio that does not mean the standards for marine operation. I'm not aware of fines or confiscations although such are possible.
There is all kind of info about nets, packet radio, email, weather, position locating etc that I'm just learning about.
For nets both ham and marine see Gary Jensen's list: SSB Nets & Frequencies
Note that there is a lot of technology overlap. For example packet radio, especially APRS, and AIS have a lot in common. Ham radiofax and weather fax are the same technology.
It would be great of someone could recommend a book or write a FAQ.
It is a big subject.
You might check your local library for copies of the ARRL Operating Manual and the ARRL Radio Handbook. Check with your local radio club (probably where you took your exam) for loaner copies and advice. There is a long history of outreach and support in the ham community. Some clubs even have loaner radios for new licensees.
If I'm going to do anything with my license I need to buy a radio. I don't plan on getting a boat that I would even consider putting a radio in for a couple years I don't know what to buy to learn how to use one.
There are lots of good radios on the used market. See the forum and reviews of radios on eHam.net Home - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community Site
. eBay is a good place to start shopping.
73 es sail fast de dave KO4MI