|Nine Reasons to Own a VHF Radio|
In times of emergency, a VHF radio can be one of the most important pieces of gear aboard a boat. This means of communication can be a boater's only line of communication from sea to shore or to nearby vessels, so it's important to select a radio that has the most advanced and the most helpful features. Here are the top reasons to own or simply upgrade a VHF radio.
1 DSC Calling: A unique feature of VHF radios is Digital Selective Calling (DSC). This enables even novice boaters to, when the VHF is connected to a working global positioning system (GPS), send a digital distress message that contains the vessel's GPS position to the United States Coast Guard (USCG) or other DSC-equipped craft.
2 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Alert Monitoring: Some VHF radios offer NOAA Weather Alert Monitoring, which provides instant access to NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards and other weather information, 24 hours a day. This helps to determine when to head back to shore to avoid getting caught in a storm. No cell phone can do that.
3 JIS7 Waterproof Rating: Meeting JIS7 standards means a VHF radio can be fully submerged for 30 minutes in three feet of water and still function properly after it's taken out. The radio can remain in the open, right where a boater may need it.
4 Floating Handhelds: The ability to float is a relatively new feature for handheld VHF radios. Now, owners don't have to worry about getting their radios wet or accidentally dropping them overboard. They can easily retrieve them.
5 Unique Features: Technology is constantly advancing, and likewise, so are the features of VHF radios. Some of Cobra Marine's models offer Rewind-Say-Again. This digital voice recorder enables the radio to record up to 20 seconds of any incoming call. Standard Horizon provides AIS integration with certain radios, so that users can safely avoid collisions on the water. Combining these sophisticated functions with VHF radios makes the units even more valuable to boaters.
6 Bluetooth Wireless Technology-Enabled Mobile Phone Calling/Integration: Certain VHF radios now incorporate Bluetooth wireless technology. Users can pair their cell phones with the units and make and receive phone calls, all while the cell phone is safely stored where it won't get wet or damaged.
7 Better Battery Technology: New radio models feature lithium ion batteries or the option to use AA batteries, reducing the chance of the radio being out of power when it's needed most. Some new handheld radios will transmit at the higher, six-wattage level of power. The better the battery, the more reliable and stable the power output will be.
8 Rescue 21 System: The Coast Guard's investment in its new, VHF-receiving, Rescue 21 system reaffirms that the marine VHF radio is the preferred method of electronically contacting the USCG when in distress. Cellular devices are unreliable in the harsh maritime environment, while a VHF radio is the best way to alert search and rescue crews to a boater's condition and location.
9 Bigger and Better Displays: With brighter and larger displays than ever before, boaters can quickly identify who's calling them. The radios also have descriptive menus, making them easier to use and resulting in less wasted time.
Whether used for communicating with marinas and locks, or when making a mayday call, a VHF radio is a necessary piece of boating gear. Manufacturers now offer a wide range of unique, innovative and, sometimes, lifesaving features on their units. No matter what type of VHF radio boaters own, they'll gain peace of mind and security when they are properly equipped with the latest in marine communication.