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Author Topic:   VHF - Mounted or Handheld?
whaleryo posted 05-06-2001 12:42 PM ET (US)   Profile for whaleryo   Send Email to whaleryo  
I'm want to add a VHF radio to my 15' Sport (wooden console) and don't know whether to go with a hand-held or mounted unit. All suggestions/opinions welcome.


B Bear posted 05-06-2001 01:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for B Bear  Send Email to B Bear     
The type of VHF you would need depends on the boating you will be doing. The VHF range depens on antenna height (line of sight), and watts. A hand held is normally 5 watts, so it would be fine for intercoastal, near offshore. The mounted unit is 25 watts which is good up to 25 miles or so and further out you would require a sideband radio. There is really no big price difference between the hand held and the mounted with the exception of buying an antenna.
whaleryo posted 05-07-2001 11:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for whaleryo  Send Email to whaleryo     
- Range isn't a major consideration since I will be spending all of my time in the bays on the South Shore of Long Island. I am looking more for info about easy-of-use, convenience etc.. Does the Antenna get in the way, is the hand-held unit just another thing to worry about (losing, dropping, charging...). All personal experiences/preferences welcome.


Chris J posted 05-07-2001 11:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chris J  Send Email to Chris J     
If you are really sure range isn't an issue, the handheld is a better bet. It will work when your battery and electrical system is dead, has its own antenna and you can carry it with you so it is less likely to get stolen.

However, the range of a handheld can be *very* limited. If you can't at least stand up while using it you won't reach anyone unless they are practically within yelling distance.

Chris J posted 05-07-2001 11:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chris J  Send Email to Chris J     
One other thing: If you go with a handheld and it has rechargable batteries, carry a spare set of Alkaline batteries with you. Rechargables tend to go dead when not used much and may leave you high and dry if you only use the radio for emergencies.
reelescape1 posted 05-07-2001 11:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for reelescape1  Send Email to reelescape1     
Not to spam here, but if you decide on your hand-held check out
B Bear posted 05-15-2001 10:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for B Bear  Send Email to B Bear     
I have a handheld and the only peeve I have is that it is hard to hear if I lay it down on the console and am making way in the higher RPMs, there are two places on the handheld to plug in a remote mike and ear piece if I wanted to allow me to hear it all the time. The good part is that I have not needed to drill a bunch of holes in the console to route the wires or to mount the VHF and antenna also as pointed out the handheld has an independent power source.

That withstanding with a mounted VHF there are other ways to mount antennas such as rail mounts. You can also mount a romote speaker and there are new features such as the automtic distress which when coupled with the GPS will give your boat name or number and location even when you can't. You can run the VHF off the mike and all in all the mounted united is a neater set up.

The best set up, I would think, would be to have a newer VHF with the automatic distress and to have a handheld as a backup. I have yet to reach this level of goodies, I had purchased the handheld so I would not lose all my electronics with each boat as I moved toward my current boat where I plan to keep it for a long time. That too would be something to consider, have you a boat you will keep for a while.

Tsuriki BW posted 05-15-2001 11:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tsuriki BW  Send Email to Tsuriki BW     
I thing a handheld would fit your needs. You can usually buy a "Dash mount" accessory to keep it in a convenient place. No DC cable, no large antenna, independant of your electrical system. you can check NOAA whether wherever you are.

Even if you decide to get a "fixed" unit later, the handheld is a great backup. For the cost today, it is good insurance.


jimh posted 05-16-2001 12:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Get a real radio, not a hand held.

It runs off your main battery, so it will not run out of power when you need it most.

It has a larger speaker so you can actually hear it.

It has longer transmit range so you can be heard.

My preference in radios is ICOM. You can get a nice, full power, full feature radio for about $225.


jimh posted 05-16-2001 12:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
See for a view of how my radio is mounted in my 15-Sport
Duncan posted 05-16-2001 11:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for Duncan  Send Email to Duncan     
I just bought a Humminbird Handheld for my 13. It was cheap. I am cheap. I am cheap and dumb. Should have bought a better radio.
Damned if I can hear the thing unless I hold it to my ear. It's not waterproof so I have to worry about it.
If I had it to do over again, I would buy a mounted, waterproof 25 watt rig with a reasonable antenna ( 3 foot) and a LOUD speaker so I could hear it while the outboard is roaring.
If I were to do the handheld thing again I would buy a waterproof rig of higher quality.
Bear in mind I have no other experience with VHFs but there has to be a direct correlation between quality and price.
That said, I am cheap and will probably settle for mediocre crap to save a couple of scheckles again!
Dick posted 05-17-2001 12:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
I have a dash mounted Raytheon VFH with a Digital 4' antenna on my Montauk. It is exceptional. For back up I carry a Raytheon 100 hand held which has both a rechargable battery and a holder for AA batteries, good insurance.
Dick posted 05-17-2001 12:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for Dick  Send Email to Dick     
I have a dash mounted Raytheon VFH with a Digital 4' antenna on my Montauk. It is exceptional. For back up I carry a Raytheon 100 hand held which has both a rechargable battery and a holder for AA batteries, good insurance.
Tsuriki BW posted 05-17-2001 12:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tsuriki BW  Send Email to Tsuriki BW     
On my Dauntless 14 I have a Standard Eclipse+, dash mounted (it came with the boat) I plan on buying an ICOM handheld as a backup. For my boating, and the area I use the boat, the ICOM handheld could function as my main radio, no problem.

Again, it depends on the area you boat in. I would not go "offshore" with just a handheld because of the lower power and I would want a larger antenna.

But remember, a high quality handheld is better than a piece of junk "full size" radio anyday.



Tsuriki BW posted 05-17-2001 12:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tsuriki BW  Send Email to Tsuriki BW     

A good quality antenna mounted correctly is the key and will make or break the quality of transmission/reception. Many handheld radios will also accept an external antenna.


Chris J posted 05-18-2001 12:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chris J  Send Email to Chris J     
jimh: To my thinking, one of the great advantages to a handheld is that it is *not* connected to the boat's electrical system. There are some situations where the electricals may be the reason you need to call for help in the first place, and if they are out of order a fix-mount radio may not work. An extreme example (not generally applicable to Whalers, I admit): boat taking on water floods battery compartment; dead battery, dead bilge pumps, sinking boat, no radio. Less extreme example, possibly applicable to anyone: battery dead while fishing; motor won't start, no power for radio to call for help.

Mukltiple batteries reduce these risks but do not totally eliminate them.

Ideally, you should have a handheld and a fixed mount, but that's expensive and impractical in many cases. most larger cruisers do go that way, however.

whaleryo posted 05-21-2001 04:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for whaleryo  Send Email to whaleryo     
Update to my original post:

Thanks for all the info. I just purchased a Raytheon mount unit with a 4' antenna. As a side note, I decided to completely rewire after scouting out a location for the radio. The boat's previous owner used red and black wires interchangably and the ground wire starts out as black, changes to white, and then becomes red under the console. I'm in the process of isolating everything and installing terminal blocks to make future installations easier. Thanks again for all of the input.


daverdla posted 05-22-2002 05:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for daverdla  Send Email to daverdla     
I ordered a factory reconditioned Standard HX350s handheld from boaters world for $150. I already have the Standard Intrepid fix mounted. I found the 350s in the clearance section on their website from a link on this site. Thanks to whoever posted it.
It arrived yesterday. I haven't used it yet but at least it seems to be physically robust like other Standard products. It came with nicads, AA pack, charger, 120VAC connector and 12VDC cigarette connector.
B Bear posted 05-22-2002 06:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for B Bear  Send Email to B Bear     
It is surprising to see so many old threads come back to the top.

I might as well make an update also.

I have installed a Standard Horizon 25 Watt on the face of my console with a SS rail antenna mount with an 8 Standard galaxy antenna with my Rayathon Handheld as a back up. I would recommend having an external speaker when at WOT about head height, when you are required to monitor channel 16 while underway.


Drisney posted 05-22-2002 08:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for Drisney  Send Email to Drisney     
Another power option for the handheld is the cigarette adapter with AA backup. Also a handheld is useful if you have a mounted radio in boat to talk between launch vehicle and boat. Let them know where you are in the que for pickup where you had to park, boat might be able to move closer to pick up...ect
Alan Hiccock posted 05-22-2002 10:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for Alan Hiccock  Send Email to Alan Hiccock     
In my opinion the 15 sport is a handheld type vessel.
First off my el'cheapo Hummingbird { dont laugh was a Xmas gift} fits soooo nicely in that small area between the wood and the hull, I mean its perfect.
Now the boats range is what 3-5 miles out the inlet TOPs on picture perfect days, 5 watt hand held does the trick & then some.
Now unless you get a rail mount , the antenna installation means drilling holes, that sucks Whalers dont like drills.
Now the cover has to go over it, it'll be cumbersome to have an antenna on a small skiff like that { hey could poke your eye out! LOL}
When you sell the boat you can allways keep your handheld, wont have screw holes or antennas mounts left behind if you want the radio ect.
Handhelds work really really well , its fun to have the radio on the beach with me while eating lunch ect.
I say go handheld, for the 15 sport.
Oh and you dont have to worry about the mounted unit being stolen off the boat if you dock it { yeah you can remove it, been there done that but when your tired and have a ton of things to do thats one less headache, Alan
reelescape1 posted 05-22-2002 10:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for reelescape1  Send Email to reelescape1     
What do you guys do when your submersible hand-held hits the water?
B Bear posted 05-22-2002 10:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for B Bear  Send Email to B Bear     
With or with out the operator? lol

With the operator - hold on to that bad boy thightly!

Without the operator - hope it is in skinny water!

Alan Hiccock posted 05-23-2002 10:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for Alan Hiccock  Send Email to Alan Hiccock     
I dont have to worry about that because mines not submersible! LOL
I'm going to upgrade when the ole Hummingbird croaks, Alan
bajabreeze posted 06-01-2002 05:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for bajabreeze  Send Email to bajabreeze     
In my 9 years experience in search and rescue and as a coast guard communications officer my recommendation would be a fixed waterproof radio of good quality. I also own a 17 Montauk and have a few years on rescue craft. We often get calls at the Coast Guard from people with portable radios, the batteries go dead, the range is substantially less and all we get is every second or thrid word, they can be dropped, broken, hard to hear at speed (for others calling for assistance) and generally, is your life worth saving a few bucks? I don't think so ! Go with a good quality (Icom, Raytheon, Simrad, Horizon) VHF with dual watch, scan and a host of other features.
Also a word of advice, wire your radio directly to your strongest battery so that if you need to shut off your batteries due to an electrical fire you can still call for help !
Alan Hiccock posted 06-01-2002 08:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for Alan Hiccock  Send Email to Alan Hiccock     
If the truth be told, BOTH fixed mount & handheld are needed if your venturing out the inlet any distance.
One of the biggest reasons people get killed out there is from getting swamped usually from following seas entering through notched transom then having the batts. short out, & being left with no radio.
Handhelds are important for backups.
Or in the case with a boat like the 15 sport they do the whole job for me as I'm not out the inlet too often and never more then couple miles.
Always got the ole cellphone with me as well.
Jay A posted 06-01-2002 11:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jay A    
Keep this in mind! Range depends on antenna height. for every one foot of antenna length on VHF you can add an avg. of 3 miles. To get the max. range of most units(25 miles) an 8' should be used. A shorter antenna mounted above 8' should be fine but if you have a smaller vessel the taller the antenna,the better.

David Jenkins posted 10-01-2002 05:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Jenkins  Send Email to David Jenkins     
Range also depends upon whether your unit transmits with 5 watts or 25 watts. I believe that all of the handhelds are 5 watts, max.

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