When working offshore, ensuring you have the correct equipment to stay in contact both on land and at sea is crucial to any successful marine mission. By maintaining this flow of communication you can make all the difference in a crisis situation, which in some environments could be the difference between life or death. This is where a VHF Marine Radio comes in, keeping you securely connected in a marine setting and protecting you from any potential risk.
For mariners that frequently work offshore, using a specialised radio system called a VHF radio enables them to easily stay in contact with colleagues, harbours, marinas and rescue services in the event of an emergency.
If it is in your hands, it is in safe hands
With a VHF marine radio, you will be safe in the knowledge that, if needed, you will be able to relay information quickly and easily, minimising risk and enabling you to work efficiently. But, make sure you are equipped with the right model of VHF radio is essential to ensure you fully benefit from the equipment.
Knowing this, we have prepared a quick checklist of what to be aware of and what features you may need to consider when selecting a VHF marine radio before you set sail. This checklist includes differing variants and explains what type of offshore activity each radio is most suited to.
Types of VHF Radio
The various models of VHF radio generally come as either handheld or fixed. Which of these you choose will ultimately depend on the nature of your activity.
A handheld radio console is more likely to suit smaller carriers such as dinghies, jet skis, or sea kayaks. Those vessels where space is tight and there’s a greater chance you will need waterproof capabilities and a longer battery life, mitigating the possibility of a broken or dead radio.
Handhelds also benefit from a user-friendly interface and a clearer screen – making it easy to use under pressure or if you are wearing gloves.
One particular variant, a DSC Handheld radio, has a unique feature where each console is identified through a different MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identity) number – which can send a distress signal with your craft identity information and location to a similarly equipped sized craft.
A fixed console permits extra range for vessels venturing further out to sea, which may benefit if you are driving a rib or cruiser, whereby a small fixed unit would suffice but a larger fixed unit would boost range. This makes a fixed radio console best suited for large motorboats and yachts. Particularly large vessels in this category sometimes prefer to opt for dual control stations with a remote headset, called AIS. This gives them greater control and security.
Fixed Radios also boost additional benefits:
- They can save time by alerting other ships and the coastguard to your position with a single button.
- A remote microphone added to some systems can be used as an inter-ship intercom system, allowing messages to be relayed to any persons on board.
- Some systems can engage external horns to alert any persons in the surrounding vicinity, speeding up response time.
Top Tips for Installing Fixed VHF Marine Radios
When installing your fixed VHF marine radio, it’s important to be mindful of space available and how you will be able to control it. Luckily, these solutions offer great flexibility which will enable you to install a top performance model away from the action and controlled remotely. And, If you find you do not have the time to install it yourself, at 2CL communications we can help.
Specialist Features of VHF Marine Radios
Both handheld and fixed VHF radios can offer a variety of specialist functions to benefit individual needs:
For those expecting to get very wet, a waterproof model, as opposed to water resistant, will ensure your radio is protected – even after a dunking. The IPX7 model is a better choice if this applies to you.
Mitigate those unfortunate ‘radio-overboard’ situations with a radio designed to float to the surface, and even light up so you can locate it easily.
Having your radio set to ATIS programmable will enable you to use it abroad, ensuring safety in any part of the world. If you need help with this, just ask any of our special radio technicians at 2CL.
Never miss a call! Dual or tri-watch scan enables you to continue to monitor channel 16, whilst scanning between other channels.
Models with higher power will benefit from improved signal quality – yet, it must be noted that using a large amount of power will drain batteries faster. This is particularly important with handheld models, which generally operate at 5W(PEP) whereas fixed models should expect at least 25W (PEP).
Top Tips for those starting with VHF Marine Radios
We suggest starting initially with a low setting and working upwards if needed. Some channels (15,75 & 76) operate on 1W only, which should be selected as a preference by your radio.
If you are still worried about your battery dying, there are several things you can do to mitigate this. Choosing a lithium ion battery in the first instance will offer a greater battery life, and having a spare to hand or perhaps even an additional 12V lead will also benefit.
Advanced Two-Way Radio Technology
Trips at sea can often be noisy, whether it’s the boat engine or the weather, making it difficult to converse over the radio. Knowing this, some VHF marine radios now feature noise cancelling technology, which removes this interference enabling you to transmit clearly.
Some radio sets are equipped with last call voice recording, enabling you to listen back to calls in order to clarify important information.
Marine Radio Certificate
Double check to make sure you have your Marine Radio Certificate, which is a legal requirement for usage of a marine VHF radio, similar to car tax.
Accessories for VHF Marine Radios
Before you hire your VHF marine radio, making sure the radio comes equipped with the relevant accessories you will need including charger, antenna, battery and belt clip if you are opting for a handheld is important in making sure you get the most out of your time with the equipment.
About 2CL’s VHF Marine Radios for Hire
At 2CL communications, we regularly hire out our extensive product range of VHF marine radios to a wide range of customers, priding ourselves on our ability to meet unique requests with our record of service and support.