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 CobraMarine® MR HH600 VHF Radio have a S.O.S 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.
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 radios display. If 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.
Digital Voice Recorder- What did they say? It’s often difficult to hear something said on the radio during the first transmission. Your radio is competing with your stereo, engine noise and other distractions. Incorporating a digital voice recorder and playback is one of the most useful new features on a VHF radio. The radio always records the last messages received and they are available for playback without asking the other vessel to “say again”. A couple of manufacturers now offer this new technology, but CobraMarine’s exclusive Rewind-Say-Again® capable radios are easy-to-use and feature a dedicated Rewind button to access the recorded message for playback.
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 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!
Wattage – You want to have the most power available to you, but also save your battery when you don’t need it. Look for a radio that features a selectable power range of 1, 3 & 6 Watts of power for both short and long-range communication. You can reduce the power setting for short range harbor communication.
Noise-Canceling Mic – With wind and noise almost always prevalent on the water, you want to make sure you have a noise-canceling microphone. This will make sure your voice comes through loud and clear on the other end.
VHF Radios are also staying up with the latest technology. For example, several CobraMarine VHF radios offer features like Bluetooth® wireless technology and making it easier than ever for boaters to stay in touch when out on the water. With Bluetooth, you can now pair your phone to your radio and made and receive phone calls through the radio, keeping your smartphone safe and dry. These radios will dramatically reduce background noise allowing for successful phone calls in windy and loud conditions.
For more information on VHF Radios or the full line of Cobra Marine products, visit http://www.cobra.com/products/vhf-radios . As a special offer to Sea Tow member you can get a limited time special price on the new Cobra Marine MR HH 600 Floating VHF Radio with GPS and DSC by using promo code SEATOW17 at checkout saving you 20% off this new radio.