When you’re at sea, being ready for anything means having the right equipment to back you up, especially if the situation gets sticky. If you’re planning on buying a marine radio, here are a few factors you’ll need to consider:
1. Portable or Panel-mount radios. Panel-mount radios are an ideal radio since they offer greater range than handhelds and can pack an extra punch of power. However, if you’re in a small boat, the tight space makes that an impractical choice. If that’s the case, better go with a marine handheld radio instead.
2. Cellphone or radio? While inexpensive means of communication at sea are now available through mobile phones and networks, the HF radiotelephone provides you with marine weather warnings in real time, says Boatsafe. At sea, the weather often takes a turn for the worse with no warning or signs. If you’re too intent on having fun or enjoying a relaxing boat on the water, then having someone send weather warnings through the radio can be the ultimate lifesaver. In fact, it might be the only thing that stands between you and an incoming storm. With radio, you’ll know ahead of time if bad weather is coming and that gives you enough of a head-start to get the boat straight to the harbor or failing that, to get to safer waters. You’ll still have to deal with the tall waves and have, more or less, a rough time at it. But at least, you won’t be in the path of the storm, and that’s going to dramatically improve your safety.
3. When you do get your hands on that radio, make sure you keep it tuned to the proper channel. Keep watch on channel 16, with your VHF unit at the ready. If you don’t, you could miss a severe storm warning and put yourself along with everyone else on the boat in danger. In some cases, ships were unable to mount proper rescue efforts or reach out to ships and boats having problems at sea simply because they had their radios turned off. So make sure it’s always on.
4. If you find yourself in trouble, radios work better than cellphones because they allow a ship to ship communication as well as contact with rescue vessels. If you find yourself in need of help, you can use your radio to send out a mayday message to nearby vessels.
So stay safe at sea. Make sure to pack everything you need—and that includes your radio—before you get on board your boat.
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