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Old 08-07-2014, 20:26   #46
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

Okay, now its starting to make sense. My ham Yaesu HT uses AA in the battery tray and in the rechargeable battery packs. That's why I was assuming (that word again) the new radios would be using AA.
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Old 08-07-2014, 20:52   #47
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

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Triple A's? WTF were they thinking? No radio needs to be that small. I hate AAAs.
I suippose it beats nothing (Icom's option) but I've had perfectly good top brand name alkalines go all leaky in just a year or two, with the expiry date still years down the line. Haven't come across the new generation that are supposed to be better built yet, but once burned, twice shy.

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Old 15-07-2014, 17:40   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post

I think all of us were assuming an EPIRB or similar would already be accounted for as the first item of importance. A DSC radio is a good solution for initiating contact with ships/airplanes, as well as providing location coordinates should your epirb stop transmitting them.

Mark
Since the title of this thread included "or otherwise", mine is another vote for the Delorme.

The statement that an emergency message goes to a private company does not dissuade me. The IERCC (INTERNATIONAL Emergency Response Coordination Center) May not be a US Federal Government entity, but that doesn't make it unreliable.

All of this conversation about antennas and power should say something. Fixed mount VHF radios get you out about 20 miles. A handheld.... Often a frustration beyond a mile or two, but certainly capable of more, so don't rip on me there.

I crossed the Pacific with a new AIS VHF, and I couldn't get ships that were in range to talk to me. Not that I saw more than 5 ships in the whole 3,000 miles.

So besides my VHF, and sweet new handheld VHF, and SSB, and EPIRB, I also have a satellite phone.

The satellite phone is going away and being replaced by a Delorme Explorer. Much better "mommy button" than the satellite phone. Certainly better mommy button than any handheld VHF in my opinion.

But in addition to being a mommy button, you have another GPS with 2 way communication via text, which is what my sat phone did on the crossing. But it was a PITA.

I won't go into all the negatives of my sat phone. Just leave it at PITA. But I will say that I am looking forward to having a durable waterproof unit that can be left on to receive messages all the time, that will not just sit there like my EPIRB does. And I don't think that I will mind keystroking messages to and SAR unit, as opposed to "WHAT? CAN YOU REPEAT?", which would not really be that likely because if they can hear you at all, they can probably see you too, since we are talking about handheld VHF.
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Old 15-07-2014, 19:27   #49
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

Hands down Thrane & Thrane SAILOR SP3540 Portable VHF ATEX GMDSS

It comes with the international channels that are required for a portable GMDSS VHF, conforms to the 94/9/EC ATEX Directive & waterproof to IP67.

This is what the Volvo boys used last time around on many of the boats. Many also used Thrane VHF & HF radios (like Puma).

Not cheap, but if you want the best, here it is.
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Old 16-07-2014, 10:44   #50
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
For the ditch bag, it is a waterproof, floating DSC with GPS unit. Nothing else really makes sense to me.

For any others, it depends on what you are looking for. We also have a much less expensive basic non-dsc HH VHF and also use it regularly. These tend to be much smaller and more easily carried ashore.

Mark
This, but make sure of two things: 1) charge it once a month to keep the stock batteries at full charge and 2) invest in the optional AA battery pack, load it up with late-expiring Duracells and keep six (or whatever it takes) AA batteries sealed separately in your ditch bag. This will give you a full three cycles of constant use should you need it, and you can assume if it's in a ditch bag, you will need it.
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Old 16-07-2014, 10:51   #51
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

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Originally Posted by Pete7 View Post
You can scratch the new Icom M23 off any list for a starters. Had to read the instruction manual to turn it on, how is that going to work in an emergency with someone unfamilar with it.

Pete
That's an important metric. I once wrote a "crew manual" on how to safely prep, start, and run my engine and what dials needed monitoring...it ran to over 30 steps! That's not excessive if you consider "I'm unconscious because the boom has fractured my skull. How would a reasonably bright but totally inexperienced crew/passenger get me home/call for help?"

And yes, I've given a kid these instructions and watched them successfully get in gear and motor.

I would suggest therefore that "ease of use" is a big factor. You have no guarantee that it will be you (or the usual skipper) who is alive and in the raft, but may be disabled or incapable of giving complex instructions. One thing that's not generally known is that if you run a handheld's GPS, the battery runs down significantly faster, much as if you leave wireless on with a laptop. So either you get the most simple to operate VHF, or you drill the crew before each voyage (not a bad idea, actually) on the "abandon ship" procedure, much as the better sort of skipper does with "where are the PFDs? where are the wooden plugs? where are the flares, med kit, etc.?"

It only betters your odds, if YOU are the crew that goes down.
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Old 16-07-2014, 10:58   #52
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

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Yes, our older HX851 also has a lithium battery. That isn't what I was talking about. SH recommended that lithium AA cells not be used in their optional battery tray. They recommended only alkaline AA cells be used.

Mark
I have an old HX260S (pre-DSC) as a spare, and while it had otherwise good battery tray, I found it prone to corrosion. So Boeshield, etc, is a good idea for the metal contacts. It makes a case for keeping the batteries separately sealed in the ditch bag, and to seal the AA "tray" as well.
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Old 16-07-2014, 11:07   #53
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Very interesting.

The Icom M92 has no battery tray, so that excludes it for the ditch bag as far as I'm concerning

The only other DSC handheld with a battery tray is the West Marine (which is a stencil brand of what??).

This test confirms my perception of the miserable battery life of the HX851, which is about half of that of the best in the test. A little over 10 hours in standby, which is exactly what I get.
Did you have the GPS on? As I said above, it eats power needlessly unless you are using it. Mine is typically off.
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Old 16-07-2014, 13:11   #54
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

"invest in the optional AA battery pack, load it up with late-expiring Duracells and keep six (or whatever it takes) AA batteries sealed separately in your ditch bag. "
Personally I've found Duracell to be one of the worst leakers. I don't put them in anything unless the contacts are greased first (silicone grease travels less than Boeshield, is less likely to attack plastics over time) so there's less damage when the batteries do outgas or leak. Apparently they can emit fumes which attack brass and other metals, or leave a black non-conductive coating on them. Not nice.
The latest was an Eveready that attacked the black (phosphate?) coating inside an aluminum flashlight. With a 2016 date on the battery.

OTOH they've heard the complaints on this. Both Duracell and Eveready have new lines of premium batteries that are supposed to be less leak-prone, advertised as better for storage. But storing the batteries out of the device, which could make it impossible to load them without admitting water, still seems safest. PITA though. I'm sure there's been something about the "newer more powerful" batteries making them more prone to leaks.

I wonder if anyone has bluntly pointed out to SH & Icom that their new designs pretty much guarantee their top radios can't and won't be bought & stowed as emergency equipment.
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Old 16-07-2014, 16:19   #55
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post

OTOH they've heard the complaints on this. Both Duracell and Eveready have new lines of premium batteries that are supposed to be less leak-prone, advertised as better for storage.
.
The battery folks are missing a huge opportunity to label the same battery as a "marine" battery and charge 2X. Maybe a nice blue color with a seagull on it.

Maybe they could co-brand with West Marine
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Old 17-07-2014, 11:02   #56
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
I have an old HX260S (pre-DSC) as a spare, and while it had otherwise good battery tray, I found it prone to corrosion. So Boeshield, etc, is a good idea for the metal contacts. It makes a case for keeping the batteries separately sealed in the ditch bag, and to seal the AA "tray" as well.
That is also how we keep ours when used in the ditch bag, except I use No-OxID on the metal contacts.

Mark
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Old 17-07-2014, 11:44   #57
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
I don't disagree with that, but in coastal sailing, few people have liferafts or ditch bags.

Mark
Ditch bag is an old military habit of mine, except we called them di di mau bags. If you went down in Indian territory, you may only get out with what's on your back so many of us prepared di di mau bags and kept them in the cockpit with us.
My life raft so far is the Dink, coastal sailing and not in Hurricane type of weather (why would anyone be out in that bad a weather coastal sailing) I figure with an extra 5 gl of fuel and water, I could self rescue.
Is that bad thinking? I'm not planning on tripping the EPIRB if I can make it in the dink.
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Old 17-07-2014, 13:12   #58
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Re: Best Handheld VHF (or otherwise) Radio for Ditch Bag

A DSC model PLS.

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Old 17-07-2014, 14:20   #59
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

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That is also how we keep ours when used in the ditch bag, except I use No-OxID on the metal contacts.

Mark
I'm non-denominational when it comes to conformal sprays and anti-corrosion barrier pastes. Whatever has been shown to work. Guys like Maine Sail and Bill Bishop (The Marine Installer's Rant) are my guides.
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Old 17-07-2014, 14:29   #60
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Re: Best handheld VHF (or otherwise) radio for ditch bag

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Ditch bag is an old military habit of mine, except we called them di di mau bags. If you went down in Indian territory, you may only get out with what's on your back so many of us prepared di di mau bags and kept them in the cockpit with us.
My life raft so far is the Dink, coastal sailing and not in Hurricane type of weather (why would anyone be out in that bad a weather coastal sailing) I figure with an extra 5 gl of fuel and water, I could self rescue.
Is that bad thinking? I'm not planning on tripping the EPIRB if I can make it in the dink.
That's a big if, but it really depends on what you mean by "coastal". Some people in Florida consider going to the Bahamas coastal, for instance, as do people working their way up and down the coast of Maine or Nova Scotia, but both can get "oceanic" pretty quickly. Consider if you are out alone and are capsized in a rogue wave. The engine shears off its mounts and the shaft cracks through the stern tube...the pump is losing. You've got about five minutes. But your arm is broken...can you launch the dink? You can't row...maybe you can jump? But you're fitter than me if you can get into a boat one-armed.

By contrast, it's possible to bring a self-inflating raft alongside a sinking boat and more or less fall into it, although I bet it would smart with a broken arm!

That said, a liferaft is overall for where I am on Lake Ontario (unless I was a racer). We carry a Portabote we could assemble in about four minutes if sufficiently motivated...assuming we weren't already towing it. Your situation might vary considerably and still be considered daysailing or "coastal".

Interestingly, on our passagemaker, we will have as tenders the Portabote with oars and a small Honda, a 10 foot nesting dinghy with a sail rig, oars and the aforementioned Honda...and a four-person liferaft if things go pear-shaped outside of the sealanes and/or off-soundings.
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