A marine radio aboard your boat is a necessity that enables you to communicate with other boats, receive navigational warnings and weather reports, and even call for help.
However, this piece of equipment doesn’t come cheaply (especially the high-end radios), but the final cost all comes down where you buy it. No matter the type or quality of marine radio you need, you can get one for under $1,000.
Types of marine radios
There are 3 types of marine radios, the 27MHz, VHF, and HF radios. Each of these can adequately serve the purpose of communication at sea, but with very different levels of quality.
27 – MHz
The 27MHz is the least sophisticated of the three radio types; it is limited in its abilities but is far better than no radio at all.
Pros and cons of the MHz
Limited range: The MHz does not have the range of the other radios, and it can only communicate with other radios (coast stations, boats, rescue teams) in view. This means that if there is an emergency, you would need to be within reach of a coast station to get help.
- Easy to operate transceivers: The MHz is easy to operate and is common in smaller boats. Operators of this radio need not be licensed to use it, unlike other radio options.
- Prone to interference: The MHz is prone to interference noise, making it difficult to hear what is being said on the other end of the receiver.
- Larger vessels don’t listen to this radio: Larger ships mostly use other radios, smaller boats and marine rescue groups, however, communicate with the MHz.
The VHF marine radio is slightly better than the MHz, it is ideal for short-range communications.
Pros and cons of the VHF
- Easy to operate: Like the MHz, it is easy to operate. However, the operator must have a Marine Radio Operator’s Certificate of Proficiency. This can be obtained by enrolling for training in maritime colleges or volunteer groups.
- Dual watch feature: With the VHF device, operators can monitor two channels at the same time.
- Wider range: The VHF reach is also limited to what is within its view, but this is extended by high aerials and repeater stations, which have a high-quality signal.
- Costs more than the MHz: This added cost is to be expected because this version has better features.
This radio is the most sophisticated of all the marine radios and is ideal for boats that travel long distances.
Pros and cons
- Communication range is greater: The HF can communicate with other radios that are thousands of nautical miles away. Therefore, this radio is ideal for boats traveling long distances from the shore.
- More difficult to operate: Unlike the MHz and VHF, not everyone can operate this radio, its process is more complicated, and an operator would need a license to use it.
- Reception is not always clear: Although it covers long distances, the clarity of the radio largely depends on atmospheric conditions and hull material.
Once you’ve decided on the radio you’re going for, check out the great selection of Marine Radios from MarineServices.co.nz for $1000 or less.
Who should use a marine radio?
Marine radios are a must-have for large transport vessels, cruise ships, and even small boats. Ideally, if you will be over 5 miles from the shore, you need a marine radio for safety.
- For 27 MHz, the frequency is 27.88.
- For VHF, the frequency is channel 16.
- For MF/HF, the frequency channels are 4125, 6215 and 8291.
Mobile phone vs. marine radios
Mobile phones are good for communication but shouldn’t be used in place of a marine radio for the following reasons:
- With the marine radio, you do not need to memorize phone numbers. During an emergency, you can easily transmit a message via the frequency channel. This message can be received by all people on the same frequency within the same area which increases your chances of being rescued. With a phone, you can only reach one person at a time.
- Marine radio batteries last longer than phone batteries. This is because marine batteries are purposely built to hold power longer. This is a much better choice than relying on a phone battery – something that is not likely to last as long.
- The location of a marine radio is easily triangulated. This process speeds up the process of rescue.
Whatever you do, ensure your boat has a marine radio before you set sail. It is far better to be prepared for eventualities than to be caught in an emergency situation without a proper communication device.