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Old 10-11-2022, 08:01   #1
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Fixed VHF Marine Radio or just Handheld?

I have a 21 ft Venture I am re-doing and while I am doing the wiring I was wondering if it would even be worth adding a fixed VHF radio or just get a handheld. There is already an antenna installed on the stern of the boat. I would primarily be sailing in lakes where shore is visible and cell phone service available. I guess one way idea for putting it in is if I get a bigger boat later I could always take it with me.

What would you do?
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Old 10-11-2022, 08:16   #2
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Re: Fixed VHF Marine Radio or just Handheld?

I would put an antenna on the mast head and used a mounted vhf. This would give you the best range w/the vhf for emergency calls. I know people use their cell phones these days for distress calls, but always good to have a back up plan.


If you feel comfortable w/a handheld and a cell phone, then that works for you.
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Old 10-11-2022, 08:18   #3
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Re: Fixed VHF Marine Radio or just Handheld?

The handheld is a good compromise
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Old 10-11-2022, 08:48   #4
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Re: Fixed VHF Marine Radio or just Handheld?

When I sailed a 21-foot trailer sailor, we just carried a handheld as we were not that far from shore that 5 watts did not cover it. We still have that handheld stored in the dinghy box, so no loss. Mounted VHF with a mast antenna gives you more power, but are a pain to mount and you need to disconnect it if you remove the mast. Keep it simple.
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Old 10-11-2022, 09:17   #5
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Re: Fixed VHF Marine Radio or just Handheld?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fsuklee View Post
I have a 21 ft Venture I am re-doing and while I am doing the wiring I was wondering if it would even be worth adding a fixed VHF radio or just get a handheld. There is already an antenna installed on the stern of the boat. I would primarily be sailing in lakes where shore is visible and cell phone service available. I guess one way idea for putting it in is if I get a bigger boat later I could always take it with me.

What would you do?

On a 21' boat used only where there's good cell phone coverage? I'd stick with the handheld. That's enough to speak to nearby boats and to bridges and locks. There are some fantastic handhelds available now.



I like VHF radio but in the cell phone era it's not as important as it once was.


I spend a good deal of time in remote areas where there isn't any cell phone coverage, and VHF matters more there. We use it between mothership and dinghy, and to and between people ashore (using non-marine frequencies for this last), as well as contact with marinas and other boats, and bridges, and locks.
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Old 10-11-2022, 09:32   #6
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Re: Fixed VHF Marine Radio or just Handheld?

I'd just go with a handheld, had a radio on fishing boat used inland lakes, few had anyone monitoring and the terrain made a lot of "dead zones", VHF is line of sight.
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Old 10-11-2022, 09:41   #7
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Re: Fixed VHF Marine Radio or just Handheld?

I like to have a handheld on my person - in the unlikely event that I fall overboard I can call for help.
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Old 10-11-2022, 10:48   #8
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Re: Fixed VHF Marine Radio or just Handheld?

Thanks for your responses. For my situation based on the points brought up it seems the handheld makes the most sense. My natural inclination is to put way too much into this boat that I really do not need.
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Old 10-11-2022, 10:57   #9
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Re: Fixed VHF Marine Radio or just Handheld?

Where I live and trailer sail (Mac/Venture 25) there’s no use for a radio so I removed the mast mount to save a few pounds when stepping the mast. If I ever trailer to the coast I’ll buy a good hand held.
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Old 10-11-2022, 11:00   #10
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Re: Fixed VHF Marine Radio or just Handheld?

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while I am doing the wiring
While a handheld sounds like the right solution, if you are rewiring the mast, you might pull an antenna wire while your are at it if you think you might move to bigger waters.
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Old 10-11-2022, 11:05   #11
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Re: Fixed VHF Marine Radio or just Handheld?

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While a handheld sounds like the right solution, if you are rewiring the mast, you might pull an antenna wire while your are at it if you think you might move to bigger waters.
yeah that is a thought. Chesapeake only an hour away. I do have the mast completely off and need to check the existing wiring to steaming light anyway.

One question...if I were to run an antenna up the mast do I just remove the one and the transom and fill in the hole?
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Old 10-11-2022, 11:14   #12
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Re: Fixed VHF Marine Radio or just Handheld?

I have an older Standard Horizon I just replaced to get a DSC model, works great, $50.

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Old 10-11-2022, 11:39   #13
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Re: Fixed VHF Marine Radio or just Handheld?

Handheld waterproof for your lakes. If you get a bigger boat then it goes with you as a backup
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Old 10-11-2022, 11:45   #14
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Re: Fixed VHF Marine Radio or just Handheld?

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One question...if I were to run an antenna up the mast do I just remove the one and the transom and fill in the hole?
I didn't intend to say you should replace the antenna, just that if you are pulling wires in the mast, it is far easier to include an antenna wire and leave it disconnected until you need it.
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Old 10-11-2022, 11:50   #15
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Re: Fixed VHF Marine Radio or just Handheld?

I use both, but have a much larger boat. Installed radio with a tall antenna for when I need long range, which is rare. Handheld for shorter range use. Most calls will be shorter range, maybe under a mile. Sometimes you can even see the boat or person your talking to and there's no need to reach out 10 or 20 miles for that.
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