Re: Choosing/spec'ing VHF radio?
"I have a friend that has offered to "gift" me a VHF (and HF) radio for the boat."
Usually those would be two separate radios, and an HF SSB radio with antenna tuner and whatnot could hit a thousand bucks all by itself.
VHF today probably should mean VHF with AIS transceiver, not just receiver, and that means GPS as well. Without the RAM nonsense, that still won't be cheap either.
The question is whether your friend knows what they're getting into, and you might gently ask about that.
I'd also suggest looking at Standard Horizon for the VHF, they might have the finest customer service in the business as well as a great product.