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Does VHF need external antenna?

10726 Views 30 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  hellosailor
I have inherited an old West Marine Zephyer VHF radio from a friend who upgraded on his Cal-27.

He has a mast antenna. I have none on my bare bones Edel 665. I don't even have a battery yet so this "freebie" is going to cost me at least that plus $90 for my VHF license...$200 approx total.

I have read that operating a VHF without the external antenna can damage the VHF. If I have to get some sort of external antenna I may just stay VHF-less. We are never out of reach of cell phone reception where we sail.

Do I need an antenna or not?

1 - 3 of 31 Posts
Yes, don't try to transmit without an antenna, you will probably blow the output transistors.

Options are, in descending order of performance,

1) Do it properly, VHF antenna at the top of the mast. Sailboat antennas are 3db gain.

2) Do it half properly, VHF antenna on the stern pulpit rail. Not too bad an option, certainly much better performance than a handheld. Again, you want a sailboat 3db antenna, NOT a powerboat one.

3) Emergency quarter wave antenna inside the cabin. Might as well get a handheld at that point.

A VHF radio with decent antenna is about the best and most cost-efficient piece of safety equipment you can have.
You need an antenna. The vhf might barely work without it. You might receive some strong signals from the coast guard or a nearby ship, but you won't be able to transmit more than a short distance without an antenna. If you want a cheap vhf, I would go with a handheld unit. Find one used or on clearance, and sell the one you have on ebay.

Gemini Catamaran Split Decision
You won't be able to transmit, at all.
If you want reliable communications, permanently installing a mast-mounted antenna (with a loading coil in its base) is the way to go. If the investment (good cable & fittings cost money too) overall is not immediately justified, then even using an "emergency" antenna or a home-made one beats nothing at all.
Those aren't the only options, though. A proper 3db sailboat antenna mounted on the stern rail is the best option if the OP isn't willing to put one on top of the mast.
1 - 3 of 31 Posts
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