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Old 19-12-2017, 15:46   #1
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Handheld marine radio

Hello everyone . I am looking for a handheld marine VHF.

There is a huge range of costs for them. I understand the extreme cheapo "cobra" and similar bands, whos M.O. is just to hit the market with the lowest price possible. I also understand the highest priced ones with GPS embedded. I am looking for a good quality back-for-the-buck middle of the road one, and not very well informed on the unique features they offer. reliable, able to do everything I need it to do , and clear, clean communication is important to me.

The "best hand held radio for 20017" type lists seem to be click bait with very little real information.

I was hoping you guys could give me some recommendations. I do not have a "built in" VHF on my boat yet, as I only do inland sailing at the moment, I will be adding that as well in the next few months, so suggests for that is welcome as well.

my boat is 26 feet, I only do inland sailing, mostly in Alberta and BC, I might end up doing some sailing in the straight of Georgia. in the next year or 2, but will not be doing anything more with this boat.

I am in Calgary, Alberta, Canada , so likely ordering something online, on boxing day.

I do have my radio operators licence.

Kevin.
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Old 19-12-2017, 16:29   #2
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Re: Handheld marine radio

I needed a new one last fall and bought a Standard Horizon HX series. The main selling features were floating, flashing LED when immersed, USB charging (AC or DC charging) and with mobile phones you can buy chargers almost anywhere, 5/1 watt transmission, plus all the usuall scanning, US/CAN/INT, dual/triple watch etc all for under $200 cnd. If you use you handheld lots get a floating one IMO it’s a safety issue. I think I got it for around $150.
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Old 19-12-2017, 16:29   #3
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Re: Handheld marine radio

The Standard Horizon are usually good value. Icoms are generally good quality.
Take a browse here to see representative prices
https://www.thegpsstore.com/Handheld...dios-C385.aspx
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Old 19-12-2017, 16:35   #4
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Re: Handheld marine radio

I really like my Standard Horizon HX851.

I picked it up because I single hand a lot and race on other boats.
It has a GPS and DSC so if I separate from the boat help comes to
me. Floats, good power, and light. I've had it for about 6 yrs now
with no problems. Great in a ditch bag too, although I know sailing
where you are you might not need it but good when you come to the
chuk.
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Old 19-12-2017, 16:37   #5
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Re: Handheld marine radio

I have an ICOM M73 and like it a lot. It is middle of the price range at about $150 US, has really long battery life, very good clarity on send / receive, and it seems to be very ruggedly built.
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Old 19-12-2017, 16:49   #6
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Re: Handheld marine radio

If you want durability ICOM, If you want features Standard. Whatever you get make sure the battery is Lithium and keep it charged. Grabbing a dead handheld is as worthless as grabbing a dead Carrier Pigeon. We have three handhelds, two ICOMs and one Standard. The ICOMs are crazy robust, the Standard has a GPS and DSC. One of the ICOMs fell overboard at the dock, next day came back with dive rig found it down 9ft in mud, still on. If your away from the mothership in a dingy and it breaks down. Nice to have the position on a handheld with the Standard handheld. If you like reading owners manuals the Standard is you, ICOM is a grab and use. One guy's opinion, they all work.
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Old 19-12-2017, 16:59   #7
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Re: Handheld marine radio

I've had a bunch of them. I had a cheap Cobra which was absolutely excellent -- beautifully made and a very good radio. Forgot the model number. I think it may have been an HH325. Stolen in Cherbourg years ago and sorry to see it go. As a radio, probably the best marine VHF I ever had. It was rather big and heavy -- its main drawback. Before that I had an ancient Icom one with NiCad batteries, good radio but it was hard to keep it charged.

I had a SH HX851 and hated it. I'm too lazy tonight to type up its many faults, but you can find similar reports on here if you trawl the archives. Avoid at all costs, is my advice. I sold it and replaced it with an HX870 which is completely different and quite good, with nearly all the faults of the 851 rectified.

I use a very expensive Icom and an extremely cheap Baofeng handy-talky for VHF/UHF ham stuff. Both excellent, and the ultracheap Chinese Baofeng is amazingly good for the price. When they start to make marine VHF's, watch out. I've hacked them both to transmit on marine VHF in an, ahem, emergency. But actually really just for emergencies -- for everyday use, I have the SH, which has DSC.
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Old 19-12-2017, 17:30   #8
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Re: Handheld marine radio

Love my hx-851 too
It always works, I like the battery life, and the other end of the talking to always says it crisp and clear
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Old 19-12-2017, 19:28   #9
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Re: Handheld marine radio

Just to reiterate my love of the USB/plug in charging; donít buy anything that comes with a cradle, as most are useless. Bought a replacement icom a few years back that came with a cradle, good luck trying to keep it in there in inclement weather let alone getting it to sit perfectly dockside. I left it with the boat when I sold it. Plug charging can be found but is getting harder and harder these days and getting a oerfect fit can be challenging.
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Old 20-12-2017, 06:54   #10
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Re: Handheld marine radio

Along with all the great points above, and just to make this post helpful to any newbies reading it, I wanted to add a couple of points:

You'll notice nobody mentioned one brand having a better range than another. Generally speaking, range is all about line-of-sight. Handhelds are probably only going to be heard to the visible horizon, maybe a little beyond if the receiver is high up.

For a fixed mount, a good quality antenna, good cable, and flawless terminations will most influence range. Since it's a sailboat, it goes without saying that the antenna should be mounted high up on the mast.

In other words, they'll all transmit about the same distance, so it's all about features.

For the fixed mount, I'd seriously look at AIS capability if you don't already have an AIS transceiver (even better, IMO.) I don't subscribe to the theory that all your electronics must be the same brand. With NMEA 2000, or even 0183, they should all talk to each other fine. My own preference is to avoid B&G/Lowrance VHF radios. Their other stuff is fine. Again Standard Horizon and iCom are usually at the top of most people's list.
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Old 21-12-2017, 10:29   #11
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Re: Handheld marine radio

Thank you everyone for you input.

So 2 features that seem to be mentioned specifically are GPS enabled, and that some units float. Can someone mention what other specific features are out there.

Really what I am trying to do is educate myself on the capabilities they have, so I can buy the right unit, but right now I am looking at about:
9 units form Standard horizon.
6 units form Icom
I might be able to order online from "west marine" who has 3-4 "in house" units ( made by who???)
6 units form Uniden.

So how do I have from approx 25 units, to the 1 I want to buy.

I can't find any comparison charts anywhere.
Thoughts?
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Old 21-12-2017, 10:46   #12
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Re: Handheld marine radio

Kevin,

Forget westmarine when shopping online in Canada. I have no affiliation with either but regularly make orders from marineoutfitters.ca and binnacle.ca both sell icom and SH and one also sells some cobra. I personally think the gps feature is overrated and I always carry a spare handheld backup on the boat and when going ashore as a dedicated handheld is more user friendly with more features and maps for water and land are available sometimes interchangeable with your chart plotter
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Old 21-12-2017, 10:48   #13
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Re: Handheld marine radio

And marine outfitters does have a comparison table for SH and Iím certain if you check out each manufacturers website youíll be able to compare each of their products side by side.
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Old 21-12-2017, 11:19   #14
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Re: Handheld marine radio

can't seem to edit my post above.. another feature mentioned, I forgot to acknowledge was USB charging; I agree, proprietary, poorly designed, charging systems suck.
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Old 21-12-2017, 11:22   #15
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Re: Handheld marine radio

We're really happy with our Standard Horizon HX. All the features, including built in GPS, waterproof, floats, etc, and a reasonable price.
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