SailNet Community banner
1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Don't call me a "senior"!
Joined
·
968 Posts
how many trailer sailors use handheld VHF?

of those who do, which ones do you like and why
When I had a trailed boat I used a West Marine handheld (I think it was a rebranded Uniden). It worked fine, although I hardly ever used it. Eventually the batteries gave out and it was too old to get a replacement battery.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
571 Posts
I have this one: Uniden VHF Waterproof Two-Way Marine Radio (MHS75). I like it just fine. The battery seems to stay charged forever on standby. I hear weather broadcasts on it, but I get better weather info from my phone.

I've never had a conversation with it and I've never even heard anybody have their own conversation. I wondered if there was a problem with the radio so I asked around; seems nobody uses VHF on the lake I sail because they all use cell phones. I still bring it along, in case I want to talk to somebody whose phone number I don't know, but so far that situation has not arisen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,593 Posts
Hey,

I'm not a trailer sailor, but I have a bunch of hand held radios. Here are some 'off the top of my head' comments:

Uniden: I bought a pack of 2 Uniden radios. They were under $100 for the two and I got what I paid for. Terrible voice quality, less than 1 mile range. The LED segments in the display started to fail so you cold not tell what channel you were on. Junk, but my fault for buying them

WestMarine: I bought the VHF100 radio. This is a basic 5W handheld with built in weather channels and a few more features. This radio has worked very well for a number of years. It's been dropped, gotten wet, been run down and left like that, etc. It will works very well. The radio is easy to use, has a number of features I like and use all the time (dual watch so I can follow race committee on one channel and 16 on another), etc. The audio is clear and gets plenty loud. The range is OK, marina's can hear me around 5mn away, which is more than enough for me. My only complaint is that the belt attachment isn't great. I am careful to look the wrist strap around my belt so I can't lose it.

West Marine VHF 150 (I think - it's the one with a built in AM FM radio):
Since I liked the VHF 100 so much I decided to buy a similar radio, but with an AM FM (plus FRS) radio built in. This one is not as good as the VHF 100. First off the antenna is much longer and gets in the way. The audio is OK for VHF but not so good for FM. I don't use this much these days since I don't listen to music that much and when I do I have other devices.

Standard Horizon HX 851:
This is one cool hand held radio. It has GPS, DSC, strobe, and all the bells and whistles. I bought this one b/c it was on sale and I wanted one with GPS / DSC for use on my dinghy and kayak. What's cool is that I have set it up so that my fixed mount and the HX851 can send / request position information. So if my kids take the dinghy and get out of site, I can see them on the plotter on my boat. The GPS keeps me from speeding in the dinghy (5 mpg limit in the harbor). The audio quality is great, the range is great.
Things about it I don't like:
The strobe is cool but if the radio gets wet the strobe goes on. This is NOT cool when you are sitting on the rail at night in the rain and all of a sudden your strobe starts flashing. I had to turn the radio off to prevent this. Also, the volume / squelch adjustment is kind of clumsy, and I frequently adjust the wrong one. Lastly the belt clip is just about useless so you must be real careful to use a strap or something of you will lose this radio.

Hope this helps,
Barry
 

·
Barquito
Joined
·
3,887 Posts
Not just trailer sailors. I went for a couple of years b/f I got a functioning fixed VHF on my B27. Hand-helds work great for opening bridges. I think the brand and model will depend mostly on the features you want. If you don't need a bunch of features, just pick up one or two off of e-Bay.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,338 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
great write up Barry, thanks for the info.

Barq: someday my wishlist includes a larger sailboat so whichever one I pick will prob start out as the one on the larger boat as well.
don't really need a bunch of features just something basic so if I decide to go out on lake michigan a bit I would have something. I just want to ensure that should I ever need it, it won't leave me wishing I had gotten something better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,184 Posts
great write up Barry, thanks for the info.

Barq: someday my wishlist includes a larger sailboat so whichever one I pick will prob start out as the one on the larger boat as well.
don't really need a bunch of features just something basic so if I decide to go out on lake michigan a bit I would have something. I just want to ensure that should I ever need it, it won't leave me wishing I had gotten something better.
The thing is, the features are the ones that would actually save your life if you get into trouble. I'm referring to GPS & DSC. What it means is if you are in trouble, your exact position, boat info, and distress get sent digitally with one touch of a button. This is rather preferable to a (frequently) vague and unintelligible position report.
 

·
69' Coronado 25
Joined
·
323 Posts
I have been out of the boating realm for 20 years I am back a year an a half and the changes in everything is mind blowing. Radios that send position and emergency signal! I will be investing in one of those for next summer as I don't venture off shore too much in the winter. As far as handheld radios I always had one as a tender/back up radio the one I used was a west marine with no bells or whistles, it was loud enough and had about a 3 mile range, not water proof (had a radio bag).
 

·
Freedom isn't free
Joined
·
3,284 Posts
Hey,

Standard Horizon HX 851:
This is one cool hand held radio. It has GPS, DSC, strobe, and all the bells and whistles. I bought this one b/c it was on sale and I wanted one with GPS / DSC for use on my dinghy and kayak. What's cool is that I have set it up so that my fixed mount and the HX851 can send / request position information. So if my kids take the dinghy and get out of site, I can see them on the plotter on my boat. The GPS keeps me from speeding in the dinghy (5 mpg limit in the harbor). The audio quality is great, the range is great.
Barry
I agree with this last choice, and it'll be my secondary VHF. I've had 3 different trailerables in the last 5 years (and I've had 3 different radio setups). Even though our little lake isn't big on VHF use, having GPS position, DSC and a quality radio you can rely on, in my opinion is still an important piece of safety equipment. Even on our 13 mile long lake, TowBoat, Lake Patrol, and local emergency services monitor VHF. Our local dockmaster does as well, as does everyone in our sail club. We use VHF for our countdowns for all our mixed fleet races as well.

My first boat I got the 2 portables for $50, using rechargable NiCd batteries... it worked but the range was garbage.. My second boat had a fixed Uniden Solara, which had great range, but wasn't located where it was easy to use at the helm. This boat, I have no VHF yet, so I'm getting a VHF that'll have GPS, DSC, and the ability to add another mike. My preference for fixed is the Standard Horizon Explorer 1700 GPS.

So I'll have a fixed radio with built in GPS and DSC, and a portable radio with same.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,338 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
The thing is, the features are the ones that would actually save your life if you get into trouble. I'm referring to GPS & DSC. What it means is if you are in trouble, your exact position, boat info, and distress get sent digitally with one touch of a button. This is rather preferable to a (frequently) vague and unintelligible position report.
excellent point. will be noted.
thanks
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,338 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
so another question -- went to search online for a Horizon HX851.
looks like a great deal actually. it's under 300 dollars.
one of the reviews mentioned an MMSI and VHF license. Do I need a license to have a VHF radio on the boat?
the reviewer said the mayday signal was inoperative until an MMSI number was entered into the radio.
 

·
Freedom isn't free
Joined
·
3,284 Posts
I haven't done it yet (VHF is down on my projects list this winter)... but this is what I found..

Key part:
"You do not need a license to operate a marine VHF radio, radar, or EPIRBs aboard voluntary ships operating domestically. The term "voluntary ships" refers to ships that are not required by law to carry a radio. Generally, this term applies to recreation or pleasure craft."

"If your vessel does not require a license you may obtain an MMSI by contacting either BoatUS, Sea Tow Service International, Inc., Shine Micro, or United States Power Squadrons. The contact information is contained in the Public Notice (pdf) announcing agreements with and the procedures for private entities to apply to issue MMSIs."

FCC: Wireless Services: Ship Radio Stations: Licensing
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
I have a Icom M88 handheld. I use it at the helm sometimes and it is primarily a dinghy radio. I am saving for the AA battery unit so that I can use it in the dinghy without fear of losing power. I have extra batteries in a ditch box. I carry a McMurdo PLB in my lifejacket so I can use it in a dinghy. If your radio with DSC is fixed and your boat is sinking - Oh well...
 

·
Freedom isn't free
Joined
·
3,284 Posts
If your radio with DSC is fixed and your boat is sinking - Oh well...
You'll get no argument from me over the benefits of having a portable...
My argument is for having both!

The fixed VHF with mast mounted antenna is infinitely better to receive and broadcast than a portable..

A portable is PORTABLE, which is a safety feature in itself (your example as consideration).. and frankly in a "money is no object world" that I don't live in, you'd be best to have both.

Just thought I'd mention my first step was to secure a good fixed VHF DSC GPS for my 26 foot trailerable... I'd locate it where while I single hand I can use the mike (or I'll add a RAM mount)... then when I scrape some more pennies together I'd get another DSC VHF GPS portable, and make it part of a ditch bag.

I should mention I don't plan on sailing on our landlocked puddle forever... and I'd want all the benefits of safety when I venture out to larger waters.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,184 Posts
so another question -- went to search online for a Horizon HX851.
looks like a great deal actually. it's under 300 dollars.
one of the reviews mentioned an MMSI and VHF license. Do I need a license to have a VHF radio on the boat?
the reviewer said the mayday signal was inoperative until an MMSI number was entered into the radio.
The DSC function won't work properly without an MMSI number, including DSC distress calling. You could still transmit distress verbally on 16, but you would have wasted the extra money for a DSC radio.

The coastguard says that most DSC distress calls are incomplete - either the MMSI data wasn't filled in properly or at all, or the GPS data are missing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,613 Posts
The DSC function won't work properly without an MMSI number, including DSC distress calling. You could still transmit distress verbally on 16, but you would have wasted the extra money for a DSC radio.

The coastguard says that most DSC distress calls are incomplete - either the MMSI data wasn't filled in properly or at all, or the GPS data are missing.
Yes, you definitely need an MMSI number. But for domestic use in the US, you do not need a license, and the MMSI number can be gotten for free off the BoatUS website: MMSI Registration - Maritime Mobile Service Identity - BoatUS

FWIW, I have a Standard Horizon GX2150 fixed VHF/DSC/AIS with RAM3 mic in the cockpit. I supplement that with a handheld that is only for emergency purposes. The HX851 is a great radio, but I could not find one for under $300 last year. (Apparently they have come down since then.) I found the Uniden MHS135DSC for $125 on Amazon, so I went for that instead. In addition to being less costly, it comes with some nice accessories that would cost you another $40-50 with the HX851 (AAA battery tray, remote mic).

I liked the Uniden so much that I bought a second one for my son, who crews on other people's raceboats in Seattle.
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top