Personally think a ham HF radio
is way more useful and cheaper. Yes you can get ham frequencies on a marine
HF but tuning them is often a major issue. Be sure you can easily get on the ham bands especially 20 and 40 meters with the 710. Also, does it have the continuous transmit ability so it will work with Pactor
Modems should you want to get email
and gribs afloat.
FYI, you can get a Ham ICOM 718 radio used for $400 and a new one under $700 http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/947
. If you want to go with a fancier radio, the ICOM 7200 are around $1200 new. The ham radios put out less wattage so tuners can be cheaper. I'd still reccomend getting an SGC 230 tuner no matter what radio you get. They are around $500 new and don't seem to ever come down much below that http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/483
. The reduction in wattage has not been an issue with getting through in my experience, btw. There is very little traffic on the marine
bands while the ham bands have radio nets that cover the globe and local area networks as people want them. Ham radios can easily be opened up to transmit on the Marine Frequencies for emergencies. Not technically legal
for non emergency
You can pass the General Class Exam with a days serious practice with the online test prep sites even if you not technically oriented.