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  #1  
Old 01-30-2002
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VHF radio choices

We want/need to get a VHF radio for our 23'' sailboat this summer. Most of our sailing for the near future will be around the western basin of Lake Erie. Can anyone offer input about the simplicity of handheld vs. the improved range but higher maintenance and chance of failure for a mounted unit? Would a stern mounted antenna suffice? We use an outboard motor so keeping the battery charged is an issue...would a mounted radio be a big drain?
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Old 01-31-2002
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VHF radio choices

Given the size of your boat and the lack of charging ability I would go with a hand held VHF. The new Standards are waterproof and use AA batteries which are easy enough to replace or to carry spares for. If you want or need in an emergency extended range you could install a VHF antenna on your mast and have the proper fitting available to connect to your handheld since most of their antennas are removeable. It is not true that a fixed mounted VHF is a maintainence problem. Any quality VHF, ie ICOM, Standard or Raytheon, should last for years with minimum requirements. As far as current drain that is also minimal and only when in the transmit stage, when in the receive mode you are drawing only miliamps--you can also operate most units using only five watts. Remember VHF is line of sight, accounting for the curvature of the earth and the height of your antenna maximum coverage would be around 20-30 miles with some exceptions. Find yourself a back issue of Practical Sailor where they review the various handhelds and go from there.
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Old 01-31-2002
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VHF radio choices

I installed an Apelco fixed-mount in my 22'' MacGregor... having it on whenever I way underway and transmitting maybe 5 minutes per hour, I never noticed any appreciable battery drain. I had a 6hp outboard with 4amp alternator and a 2amp solar panel. Given the relative lack of other electronics (GPS, portable stereo, cabin and running lights) I ended up having more power than I needed and frequently disconnected the solar panel. I prefer a fixed mount, but can see advantages to both.
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