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handheld VHf?

Apr 3, 2020
134
Hunter 26.5 Trailer
I'm considering getting a handheld VHf radio. Mostly because it might be nice to talk with some of the other guys in the marina when we are out sailing. I am looking for recommendations. Please remember, I sail on an inland lake. No need for integrated wiz bang gadgetry, just bs-ing with the guys and maybe a weather radio.
So, what would you recommend?
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,665
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
A Standard Horizon handheld is a good bet. SH has been in the business a long time and build quality units. I"ve had several and been very happy with each.

Waterproof and floating are good features. For around $100 you can get a good unit. All will come with DSC calling and usually some channel scanning so 2 or more channels can be monitored.

GPS would be nice, it can serve as a knot meter and let you know how fast (or slow) you are really going.

Icom is another respectable brand. I"ve had a cobra handheld and was not very happy with it, so I've stuck with SH.
 
Feb 21, 2013
3,461
Hunter 46 Point Richmond, CA
You will get lots of recommendatons on this forums. Might read this first Selecting a VHF Handheld Radio | West Marine . For me it needs to float, have gps and digital selective calling (dsc), glow in the dark, a drop in charger, decent battery life and low cost like a Standard Horizon 890.
 
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Sep 25, 2008
6,240
Alden 50 Sarasota, Florida
Aside from labels, there isn’t much which differentiates VHF handhelds. Personal preferences aside, for your use, any of them will work well.
 
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Apr 3, 2020
134
Hunter 26.5 Trailer
Thanks all. I've had Cobra other radios and was pretty underwhelmed. Looks like a couple of SH versions fit the recommendations nicely, and reasonable prices. I imagine the floating version is larger just out of necessity?
 
Jan 4, 2010
969
Farr 30 San Francisco
Floating versions are larger, Archimedes figured out why. They have to be less dense than water otherwise they won't float. Electronics weigh about the same so the only option is larger size.
 
Jan 18, 2016
652
Catalina 387 Dana Point
Uniden MHS335BT for an inexpensive choice (I have an older uniden I like). SH 890 is nice (I have one)

GPS/Knotmeter functions are more useful than you may first think.
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,960
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
No one rates ease of use but to me it's the most important feature. You could download some Manuels for the units you are interested in and read thru them.
I bought a Horizen 890 a while ago. When I take it out on the Flying Scot, which I usually solo, it's a little too complicated to switch between functions. I can barely let go of the tiller long enough to operate it much less take my eyes off the water. Volume up/down takes several step as does squelch. It's the multi-function keys (Soft keys) that make it complicated. If it exists, I'd like a dial for volume and squelch.
I do like the dual watch and triple watch. You should monitor channel 16 (Actually it's the law) and at least one working channel. I programed mine to scan a group of channels that would cover most my uses - channel 5 for the sailing center, 9,11,13 for bridges and marine traffic, 16, 71,72 for race committee. But if I'm out alone it's the dual scan.
As for the digital calling - it would be useful in RC work to keep communications quiet but all the other radios would have to be synched and that's never going to happen. But maybe you and your buddies could make use of it.
The MMSI is a good feature and I have programed mine. Imagine a medical emergency on the water. Wouldn't you want help to know exactly where you are.
FM radio - a nice touch but not necessary.
GPS, compass, tracking, waypoints ... some use for RC work but not useful for solo sailing. If you have that feature on your radio you should put your marina of launch site in it. In poor visibility you could get home if you don't already have GPS.
 
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Jan 1, 2006
5,960
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
Oh, yeah. I forgot. Several charging options are a nice feature. AC, DC, batteries. It's only a matter of time until there is USB.
 
Jun 21, 2004
1,826
Beneteau 343 Slidell, LA
I have had a Uniden (MHS 350) for over 10 years. Compact with separate volume and squelch rotary knobs atop the unit. Simple to use and came with two batteries that enables you switch out batteries quickly if one is depleted. Also have a standard horizon (HX851) that I purchased on sale about 5 years ago. Floating & DSC capable. Has push button volume & squelch. Only one battery & bulkier.
You will have to weigh the desired options. Basic handheld can be had for under $100 vs Floating & DSC capable for around $200. If this radio will be the only one onboard, I would opt for one with DSC capability; if this is a secondary unit that you're just using for BS, I would opt for a no frills model (Uniden MHS75) Shop the sales!
 
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Nov 13, 2013
622
Catalina 34 Tacoma
The thing about my SH 890 that bugs me are 2. Sound quality and range. I just cannot understand half of what comes accross channel 16. The other is range. I often wonder if anyone would hear me if I went overboard and broadcast from water level.
 
Jan 1, 2006
5,960
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
. ... if anyone would hear me if I went overboard and broadcast from water level.
I wouldn't count on it.
As for 16, I think it's something to do with USCG equipment (Lowest bidder) or broadcast location. I can hardly ever understand USCG broadcasts. But that's been true for several radios I've had and in different areas of the country.
 

DougM

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Jul 24, 2005
2,150
Beneteau 323 Manistee, MI
I have an iCOM IC-M1V that has to be at least 10 years old and still has the original Lithium ion battery. It still holds a charge for months, and works well. Great for calling bridge tenders and other nearby boats. That would be my choice for a replacement, even though I have heard good reviews on Standard horizon products.
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,699
TBD Looking for my next boat CT
I have an iCOM IC-M1V that has to be at least 10 years old and still has the original Lithium ion battery. It still holds a charge for months, and works well. Great for calling bridge tenders and other nearby boats. That would be my choice for a replacement, even though I have heard good reviews on Standard horizon products.
I have a SH HX460 from early 2000's (maybe 2001?). Still using the original battery and it holds a charge well. Pretty amazing. It's beat up from wearing on my belt and banging into things, falling on the deck, etc. "Takes a licking and keeps on ticking" :clap:
 
Jan 4, 2010
969
Farr 30 San Francisco
DSC is a really nice feature, press the button and everybody including the coast guard knows you are in trouble and knows exactly where you are. That is beyond the basic feature set but isn't that expensive. How warm is the water you sail in?
 
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Apr 3, 2020
134
Hunter 26.5 Trailer
DSC is a really nice feature, press the button and everybody including the coast guard knows you are in trouble and knows exactly where you are. That is beyond the basic feature set but isn't that expensive. How warm is the water you sail in?
Right now, about 72 degrees water temp. Funny that you mention the Coast Guard. IF they hear the call, it's gonna take them a long time to get there. :)
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