I don't know where you are located in Ohio, my suggestion for diesel engines would be to find a school
that taught diesel truck mechanics instead of automotive diesel mechanics. To put it simply, those are 2 separate systems and a class specializing in automotive systems will spend a lot of time covering systems that you will never see in the marine environment
. Many years ago I visited a school
in Cleveland that focused on trucks, don't remember what it was called but it wasn't too far from the Cleveland Museum of Art if that helps.
If you can't find a truck school that will let you audit an appropriate class, check out your local community colleges. I'd call up the department head
and explain what your goals are and ask him if he had any recommendations for any of their classes.
If you cannot find any diesel engine
classes a basic automotive engine
class would also be a good start to the foundations of what makes engines run and they all pretty much work the same except for the ignition systems.
Ham Radio, well my suggestion is to take a class (or just self study and take the exams) and then see if you find it interesting or not. If nothing else, you'll definitely learn enough to save money
doing your own installation
troubleshooting. An added benefit is if you get a radio and antenna hooked up at home you can really work on your communication skills in the comfort of your home and not have to deal with that issue when you are having to learn everything else about running a boat. There is a great maritime mobile net on 14.300 that you can monitor
and possibly participate in.
Couple of links:
Maritime Mobile Service Network
Regarding radios, the only 2 models that I have ever used are the SGC 2020 that is lower powered but small and sells for around $500 ish used,
and the SGC2000 that is higher powered and usually sells used for about $100 more. Both of those radios are certified for marine and amateur radio bands. They are also a little dated and I am sure there are newer models that do both as well, but I'd be comfortable with either of those on a boat.
Other things to learn while on the hard
would be any classes taught locally by the US power squadrons. The more exposure you get to all things boating is never harmful.
And of course, don't forget to have a good time while doing it!