Thanks for all the great replies, sorry it took me a while to respond back.
I think there are several suggestions that bear (bare?) following up on. The emergency antenna is a great one, good to have as a back up. I actually have a SWR meter for a CB and did a quick search to see if I can use it for the VHF
and apparently I can although its not totally accurate but can give me an idea of what is going on. Also checking the negative side is a good idea, I did the wiring but the boat is over 40 so another look at the wiring couldn't hurt.
I can actually receive the weather stations as long as I tune the squelch all the way down but it is very faint and, of course, full of static so I might be just receiving through the coax. The signal from the CG comes in crystal clear although I'm sure they're transmitting at some heavy wattage.
My only other thought, other than the radio
being bad is the antenna was never attached to the coax cable. I looked up there with the bino's and it appears it is, but I may have to take a trip up.
Looks like I'm going to go ahead and start with the emergency ant. and go from there.
Thanks again for the replies.