For high-seas communications, the typical choices are Ham Radio, Marine
SSB, and Satphone (usually Iridium). Each of these have their unique advantages, which have been extensively discussed here on Cruiser's Forum (do a search).
Ham Radio requires that you pass a test covering the rules and regulations
, as well as some technical aspects. There are a lot of training resources on the net, in books
, and there are classes
available. There is no longer a Morse code requirement. For this to be useful on the water
you will need a General Class license (or better). The cost to get the license is nominal. Look at the American Radio Relay League website
for all the information you will ever need on Ham radio.
An alternative to Ham radio is Marine
Sideband (often just called SSB). In the U.S. there is no test, you just need to fill out the forms for an Operator's License, and Ships Station License, and send a check to the FCC. You can find all this on the FCC website
, but the site is a little difficult to navigate. Gordon West
and Dockside Radio
are two resources who can guide you through the FCC license process. You can do it on your own, if you have the patience. The cost is less than $200 as I recall
Satphones need no license.