"it still seems like a pain to have to do this if you go sailing on a friend's boat, and want to bring your handheld VHF
This is why a handheld VHF
should be licensed as a PORTABLE device, not a conventional fixed station. Last time I looked the FCC still licensed them--including the MMSI--as a ship's station license, but as a PORTABLE ship's station license, if you requested it.
That lets them know that whatever vessel is associated with the license, may not be the vessel in question. I have an EPRIB that is also licensed with a note that it is used as a portable, and may be on different vessels. NOAA doesn't care, FCC doesn't care, the only folks who care are the USCG if they need the SAR paperwork filled out. Well, technically, if your handheld
ever wanders off the mothership (and if a license is required) like to a dink? Technically, that's probably when "portable" is required. I doubt anyone would ever call you to task if it wasn't.
"Description of vessel: white
sails" Oh yeah, that's gonna help find it. (VBG)
"Portable" just tells them it could be anything in that vicinity, pretty much like "white".