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Old 05-14-2016, 07:25 AM   #1
Rattletrap
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Default How often do you use your VHF

I just bought a hand held VHF, A friend suggested that I should have bought a fixed mount VHF with an external antenna. With having a pontoon boat and limited helm and antenna mounting space I opted for the hand held. I was thinking I was only going to use it for weather and emergency's. How often do use yours?
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Old 05-14-2016, 09:37 AM   #2
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Default vhf

Rt, congratulations on the new hand held, may it serve you well.
Monitor Channel 16 for two reasons: Emergencies and real-time weather.
You might want to buy a Dc to unit jumper as the battery on most hand units is really short
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Old 05-14-2016, 10:10 AM   #3
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Ours is hardwired, and is on when we are on the boat.
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Old 05-14-2016, 10:19 AM   #4
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You are fine with a hand held. I have had one for a while and, quite honestly, don't use it at all. Nice to have as an insurance policy in case you don't have cell phone coverage where you are at. Yes, a fixed mount unit with an antenna will get you better coverage but you should be fine with your hand held.
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Old 05-14-2016, 10:53 AM   #5
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Default Vhf

Great points!
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Old 05-14-2016, 11:26 AM   #6
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Default Vhf

I monitor Ch 16 most of the time, although hearing is not top notch at cruising speeds. Like moist, I don't expect a problem, but maybe somebody else will call for assistance, usually at a lower level than a Mayday. For most use on the lake, i.e. line of sight, boat to boat, the handheld is totally OK. Good decsion on your part, RT. In a while, if you find yourself talking to others on ch 68 and losing signal, or battery, you may want to get a mounted unit. Your new VHF may have the ability to plug into a mounted antenna, that would improve range. The option to plug into the boat's power system, is nice. Emphasis on the word option, since we know from other threads that you can plug in and use too much stuff and drain your battery. Then you'll need your independent handheld to call for a jump start since the mounted unit will have no juice.
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Old 05-14-2016, 12:34 PM   #7
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Default vhf

30 years ago, my wife and I had a 28 ft Bayliner, we went all over with it from Cresent NY to Cape Cod. At that time, cell phones were just coming in but coverage was marginal. With vhf we could contact a Marine Operator and call anywhere..
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Old 05-14-2016, 02:57 PM   #8
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I installed a VHF on a pontoon boat last year. A fixed mount unit with an antenna works much better than a hand held. If you want to see the installation PM me and I would be glad to show what/how I installed it.
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Old 05-14-2016, 06:48 PM   #9
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VHF: It's ALL about antenna height...and the Power to push it. NB
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Old 05-15-2016, 06:26 AM   #10
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I agree with the antenna height having a significant impact on range. I had a flybridge cruiser with an 8 foot antenna that was mounted about 10 feet above the water level. Quite often I could listen to boats off of Portsmouth and pretty much anyplace on the lake was within range.

If you have a hard wired VHF I would highly recommend an extension speaker. Most VHF radios have a jack to plug one in. They are inexpensive and the sound quality is much better than when the small built in speaker is used.
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Old 05-15-2016, 09:18 AM   #11
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Seeing as I know from whence this thread started, I will not add too much comment to the value or non value of having a VFH other than the below:

In today's age of cell phones, if you have a "real" emergancy aboard then you should have the MP number in your phone's contacts and ready to use..... It will be much faster.... However, I would also hail a MAYDAY over the VHF as there may be some "good samaritan" closer near you.

During the construction of the new MP headquarters, VHF response by MP has shifted from HQ and onto the patrol boats...... And thus sometimes sketchy. This will of course change back once they occupy the new facility.

Handhelds can hear good, but talk short distances by that I mean, you will hear all but only be able to respond to a few (transmit power low). This you may find frustrating at times.

External speaker is a must. -- as one who tried the handheld route for years, at speed with the wind, engine and boat conversation..... You will NEVER hear a thing coming from the radio.

External speaker-- for a few extra dollars, it is well worth getting an "amplified" external speaker. These boost the volume and don't sound as "tinny" as simplified external speakers

For mounting- you do not need a giant whip...... For years we operated with a 3' stainless, deck mount. Given that yours is a pontoon, I am confident there is space in the helm area for mounting one of these.....and suspect ( but don't know) that's perhaps what PJARD has.

other than that, everyone else has stated the reasons pretty on mark !


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Old 05-15-2016, 11:00 AM   #12
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In the 'mounted vs handheld' debate, I lean more toward the hard-mount. Still, you are way better off than the people who don't have a VHF at all. In a smaller waterway like Winnipesaukee, you have a very effective amount of capability.

If you have a big gadget budget, there are fixed mount units that you can install under the helm and use a hand-held repeater unit. If you get one that works with the PA horn, these can be great fun when kids get close to your boat at the dock.

Good luck!
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Old 05-15-2016, 02:19 PM   #13
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Default Other uses for handheld

Nobody has mentioned that handheld is portable in the sense that you can take in other boats., or monitor onshore if you're expecting someone to call you when they launch or get close to your anchorage. I used to take mine in my jet ski in a waterproof bag, same for kayak, canoe. My cell phone is/was useless once it gets dunked, so I never wanted to take it.
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Old 05-16-2016, 01:39 PM   #14
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Don't forget, you can always install a good VHF antenna, and then connect it to your handheld. You may need to get a pigtail connection to do this, but it will work much better than the antenna that is built into the radio.

This will give you most of the range of a fixed unit (not quite as fixed units have 25 watt high power, and most handhelds are 1W or 5W).

But the external antenna will give you MUCH improved range over the built in antenna on the hand held.

As previously mentioned, I'd also get a DC cable for the hand held. You wouldn't want to go an use it and find the internal battery not charged.
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Old 05-16-2016, 05:55 PM   #15
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What is the contact number for MP?
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Old 05-16-2016, 07:15 PM   #16
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Default Contact Number

The phone is 293-2037. If you want to put this on your contacts list, but I think, listening to the menu, if you have an emergency, 911 is still the way to go. AFTER you send out a MAYDAY on the VHF. Get the nearby boats to help first. They're closer than the MP or Fireboat if you have a real emergency and had to jump overboard.
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Old 05-16-2016, 07:27 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Descant View Post
The phone is 293-2037. If you want to put this on your contacts list, but I think, listening to the menu, if you have an emergency, 911 is still the way to go. AFTER you send out a MAYDAY on the VHF. Get the nearby boats to help first. They're closer than the MP or Fireboat if you have a real emergency and had to jump overboard.
Well said. And to add, if you use 911 and are not sure of your location cell tower triangulation works quite well on a large portion of the Lake. Having a cell phone AND VHF handheld or fixed mount isn't overkill; it's the best of both worlds!
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Old 05-16-2016, 07:41 PM   #18
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If I was in trouble on Winni opening day of salmon season or anytime close to that, my first mayday would be by VHF to my fellow boaters / fishermen. My second would be 911 by cell phone.

I can guarantee if you were in the water and all you got out was a 911 call...you would most likely be dead before anyone arrived. A VHF mayday would be responded to instantly by the many boaters / fishermen on the lake.

If your an early season boater, a VHF radio is a wonderful safety tool used by almost every fishing boat on the lake.

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Old 05-18-2016, 09:29 AM   #19
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Its amazing how few boats on the lake even have VHF radios anymore. When I was a kid, boating in the 80's and 90's, everyone had them. It was how you raised your buddies to find out which sand bar you were on.

Last year, I turned mine on to 16 to see if any life was out there. Nothing. I even broadcasted "Is anyone actually tuned in to 16?" No responce. I did it a few times too.

On the ocean, it's a whole different animal! When I am out there, I feel like my cell phone would be useless....
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Old 05-18-2016, 10:30 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrownRay View Post
Its amazing how few boats on the lake even have VHF radios anymore. When I was a kid, boating in the 80's and 90's, everyone had them. It was how you raised your buddies to find out which sand bar you were on.

Last year, I turned mine on to 16 to see if any life was out there. Nothing. I even broadcasted "Is anyone actually tuned in to 16?" No responce. I did it a few times too.

On the ocean, it's a whole different animal! When I am out there, I feel like my cell phone would be useless....
CrownRay -- I wouldn't leap to the conclusion that just because no one answered you means no one heard you !

I for one monitor two channels -- one we use for friends and all those conversations you referred to back in the 80's / 90's the other of course is CH 16.

Personally I do not tend to respond to broadcasts such as you describe ....

My definition of proper use of ch16 is for (1) Hailing another boat - then move off channel (2) Weather or boating advisory ..... (3) Hailing MP to advise misplaced or missing spar (4) Aid needed for me or another boat (5) EMERGANCIES (6) and on a VERY VERY rare occasion a radio check -- this is only when I have changed something .... new antenna, wiring, replaced radio, etc.

To your point, we were active boaters on the Lake in the 80's / 90's and quite frankly CH 16 was cluttered with useless & unnecessary chatter that most times was quite annoying. Who cares where you & your buddy plan on going and I don't want to be forced to listen to a long discourse of you two trying to figure out where each other are by radio --- tying up the channel...

MP tried very hard during those days to continually jump in and remind people that the channel was for hailing or emergencies ---- while others treated it as an extension of their then popular CB radios in the car or truck --- including 10 codes and "good buddy"/ "Breaker Breaker" lingo



Please understand -- I am not trying to be harsh --- simply do not jump to conclusions that no one heard you.


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Old 05-18-2016, 12:01 PM   #21
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Lest we not forget, VHF is a privilege, in years past, we as boaters had a very different set of frequencies which were not as affordable or convenient. Handheld radios simply did not exist.
When I first arrived here in 2002 I went to work for Shep Browns and we monitored 16 every day and I can tell you that we were always on top of everything in the northern part of the lake. The Mount would broadcast bad weather on 16 based on there position and based on what they saw on radar
And then there was "Mighty Moe" a blind man who monitored 16 religiously and very much kept order. (Moe, Bill was his name, found a doctor who was able to correct his vision several years before he died) Bill was even able to drive before his death.
If you have a VHF. monitor ch 16, it just might make you a hero!
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Old 05-22-2016, 07:04 PM   #22
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I used mine every day last week. Even had a long chat with the US Navy, but I was not on Winni. Never use it on Winni anymore.
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