The 2m, VHF
, amateur radio
band is a terrific way to keep in touch with people and be able to communicate clearly and reliably across many dozens of miles.
You can buy a ham 2m mobile radio
, 55W for $150. Or a 5W handheld for about the same price
. It can use your marine
(I do this and it works great). With your marine
on the masthead (assuming a sailboat), you may be able to hit a repeater on a tower 40 miles away. And someone with a similar set up, 40 miles further away be able to hear you and communicate with you. So, hypothetically speaking, 80 miles apart.
Some areas, such as the FL Keys, have linked repeaters. SO, you could easily be 30 miles east of Key Largo
(I think that repeater is up...if not then Plantation Key), and communicate with someone 30 miles west of Key West
, through clear, reliable comms.
There are also 2m Echolink repeaters. These are VoIP and link to other Echolink repeaters....worldwide. It is a pretty amazing system that really works.
You are in MD, and so should be able to find a MD/DC/VA 2m Repeater directory that will tell you where the repeaters in your area are, and how to interact with them (Input freq, output freq, CTCSS tone). You should also be able to find information on the individual repeater to see how high up it is and how much power it is running. That will tell you what range you might expect.
Finally, you can buy a nice little software
program and cable from RT systems (no affiliation) and program all the repeaters into your radio that you want to. Most rigs have about 200 memory spots.
I recently got a Yaesu FT-1900R 2m amateur transceiver that I am very happy with. 55W, $130. It is about the least expensive, good radio you can get. I rarely use it above 25W, and that makes it easy to power.
Here in FL, I have programmed in every repeater I want for coverage through the entire East coast
of FL, down through KW, across the state and from Naples to Clearwater on the west coast
. Ham VHF simples channels, even the ISS and marine channels (to listen in, cannot transmit)...and have less than 70 mem slots used.
It is a blast. [ok, ...I am a geek]
Obviously, you need an FCC Amateur (Ham) license. But, you only need the lowest level (technician) in order to use 2m VHF.
Bottom line, if you lived in the DC area. You could probably cruise
the Ches and talk with your family
at home. [sure...you could use a cell phone
...but...no challenge in that]
Anyway...hope this helps.