Communication. It’s essential. You wouldn’t take a long car ride without your cell phone and you shouldn’t be without a VHF radio when out on the water. A hand-held VHF radio is something all boaters should have. When looking for a VHF radio, there are however several key features you want your radio to have.
Floating – Floating designs are vital if you drop your radio overboard or need to abandon ship for any reason. Some radios like the Retevis RA26 VHF Radio have a flashlight that automatically starts to flash when dropped in water which makes it easy to find if you get separated from your radio as well as an orange core for better visibility.
NOAA Weather Alert – We all know the weather can change quickly out on the water so you will want access to weather changes and emergencies. Radios that make getting weather information quick and easy are great. Instant access to NOAA Weather Channels and Alerts with an audible tone and visual alarm if threatening weather is nearby to make sure you always know of changing conditions on the water. It’s also very useful to have a handheld radio with NOAA weather to take ashore with you. This allows checking the marine forecast before heading down to the dock!
Positioning Information – Built-in GPS & Digital Selective Calling (DSC) are probably two of the most important features you can find in a VHF radio and they may just save your life. Built-in GPS tracks your coordinates and highlights them on the radio display. In the case of an emergency, your GPS location can be automatically transmitted with the push of a button through DSC to notify the Coast Guard or other vessels of your exact position in case of emergency. MOB (Man Over Board) buttons are also and nice added safety feature that marks and memorizes position information if a crew member falls overboard.