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Old 19-06-2014, 16:29   #1
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Hand-held VHF recs for Maine

I'm finally getting around to purchasing a hand held for both island hopping in my skiff and sailing my Friendship sloop on-shore in the midcoast and downeast. Is the increased size and price of the DSC units worth it for that application?
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Old 20-06-2014, 12:09   #2
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Re: Hand-held VHF recs for Maine

Yes, in my view. AIS on the base unit is a good idea, as well, and DSC on the handheld to call up unseen boats on tight approaches in the fog while trying to listen for them. The less ideal the conditions, the more useful many of these innovations are.
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Old 20-06-2014, 12:42   #3
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Re: Hand-held VHF recs for Maine

What Alchemy said.

Seriously.
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Old 20-06-2014, 13:35   #4
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Re: Hand-held VHF recs for Maine

DSC is extremely important, and could save your life, but I would not necessarily recommend the Standard Horizon HX851, which I have as my primary handheld. It has a number of drawbacks which I hope will be fixed in the next version. One of these drawbacks is that it is really very bulky, too bulky to easily carry on your person.

You might look at other units; I think Icom have come out with one. I know nothing about it, but Icom radios are usually pretty lovely.
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Old 20-06-2014, 14:39   #5
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Re: Hand-held VHF recs for Maine

DSC without GPS is close to useless - so you'd have to get a handheld with GPS built in.

And East of Boothbay, DSC isn't going to be all that helpful anyways. No commercial traffic to speak of in Maine after Portland. Coast Guard few and far between. The lobstermen will be quick to respond to a radio call but don't tend to care about bells and whistles like DSC. Even some of the car ferries haven't installed AIS. I don't think I've ever heard a DSC call in Maine that wasn't caused by a guy (or his kid) pushing the wrong button.

Your bigger problem is that handheld range sucks. It's fine to call the other side of the harbor but useless over about 3 miles.

VHF is all about antenna (and antenna height). You'll get much better range if you get a fixed VHF and tape a 3ft VHF sailboat antenna to the end of a boat hook that you hold in the air

Here's a perfectly adequate fixed VHF for $100 that with a good antenna will run rings around any handheld and is even waterproof to 3ft - even has DSC .

Cobra MR F45-D Fixed-Mount VHF Radio

No need to mount it. Just keep it in a canvas bag with battery clips or figure out a power plug.
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