We actually left the US without a Marine HF or HAM two way. We carried the VHF
and a yachtboy reciever to get the weather while we travelled. We thought that long distance two communication was worth the bother.
We learned from several direct personal experinces about having a means of long distance communication.
The first was while traveling from island to Island starting in Bonaire
and working our way though the Venezulian outislands. Wind
Borne III was traveling with us but because we are a fast cat and the were a fairly slow mono we aranged to meet a various anchorages
as we wotked our way to PLC, Ven.
Well they had major fuel
problems (we were heading east and bucking the winds) that cuased the motor
to stop and after replacing a second fule filter stopp with in minutes. They figured it would be easier to head
back downwind to Bonaire
and deal with the problems. They were out of VHF
range and another boat on the eadge passed us a message that they were having problems and were turning back, but to tune into 8.104 that even for an update. The VHF contact was weak and were weren't really sure of their condition other then they were not in danger
They called that night and because we only had a reciver we were not able to respond directly. It took a few days and the help of another cruiser Panda who was anchored nected us in Los Aves before we found out the extent of their problems. We ended up waiting for 10 days to get the full story. Direct comm would have helped us and them.
At this point we installed an old icom
700 we got for 200 USD.
The second time was scarrier for our friends sailing from Los Testigo to St Martin
. Their rudder
failed 3 days out in rough weather. To far from shore for the VHF but Wombat of Syndey and ourselves were able to converse with them and provide links for help in St Kitts
(thier CG doesn't normally have the radio on) and to check on them. After a rough bit they managed to drift close enough to St Kitts
for direct VHF. The CG told them they would have to abandon thier boat as they couldn't tow. We stayed with them on periodic checks to make sure no other life threatening failures occurred and to keep spirits up. We were over 700 Miles away.
Eventually a fiashing boat crusing by towed them into shore where they got repaired.
I don't believe you need a radio just to chat but the life it may help may be yours or one of your friends.
I have tons of these personal stories from running parts
to the islands to just passing messages of well being to concerned ones at home. I would recommend thinking about adding something. It may be the community or yourself you help. ANd besides once you develop crusing freindships it can be a real lift
of the spirts or the highlight of a day to chat with someone you know but haven't seen in ages.