If you have recently been lucky enough to purchase a boat you are in for some of the greatest moments and memories of your life. Usually, most boaters are always those people who also like to stay ahead of the technology game. In general, the average boater will be quite current on what devices should be aboard his boat to keep it running smoothly and keep outings fun. However, the very first piece of equipment you should think about putting on your boat is a VHF radio.
VHF Radios could be the only form of communication you'll have available to you if you're far out on the water and the boat becomes incapacitated. Even if you are carrying other high-tech communication devices like cells and computers, at such a distance, service may become limited or unavailable, altogether. The radio should be able to withstand inclement weather and are built to be resistant to both UV light damage and corrosion.
VHF Radios come as either handheld or fixed mount. Depending on the size of your boat you may elect to have just one radio on board. In this case, consider investing in the wall mount option. Of the VHF Radios available, the wall mount version will remain attached to your boat, connected to the electrical system and a large antenna located externally.
The reasons you want to choose wall mount over handheld when carrying just a single VHF Radio is that you won't have to worry about dropping the radio because it will be securely in lace. Also, being connected to the boats electrical system and the external antenna gives you the optimum legal radio output of 25-watts and give you the greatest transmitting range. And, a wall mount is required to have DSC. If you experience an emergency, simply pressing the distress button the radio sends a message immediately containing your one of a kind ID number. If you're like most tech happy boaters and have GPS, it will also include your location.
The handheld VHF radio works for those with smaller boats without a battery source and is also more portable, smaller, and if required able to leave the boat with you, giving you a communication device to use should you be in any way stranded on a flotation device or in a land. And, keep in mind if your boat is larger and you are able to readily afford buying a handheld as well as a wall mount, you would be smart to do it. It's always best to have a backup in anything you do.
One more thing you want to consider when looking for VHF Radios is selectivity. This is the radio's ability to focus on certain signals while leaving out other signals close by. How much selectivity you need depends on where you are going to be doing the majority of your boating. If you're in an area where there overwhelming radio traffic isn't a problem, you can do well with a 60 db rating. If you're boating near a large metropolitan area, you'll want a 70 db. And, if you really want to hear even the weakest signals, a radio with an 80 db rating or higher will do the trick.