Ask PYS: Communications

Dennis, on Jul 23, 2012 asked:

We own a 2003 Boston Whaler Montauk 170 and are looking to purchase a VHF radio. We will not be cruising the open ocean until we get more experience, and we will be sticking close to Vancouver for now. We understand the range of a handheld is less than a fixed-mount. Keeping that and our cruising area in mind, our first question is: would you suggest a handheld or fixed-mount? We would also like to keep the cost of the radio to under $200.00. For fixed-mount, we were looking at the Standard Horizon GX1600. We understand it can be wired to GPS system in order to display GPS information, but is this really necessary? We already own a Garmin GPSMAP 76Cx. Please suggest which type of radio we should purchase, and suggest a few models to choose from.

Portable VHF’s have limited range, therefore a fixed-mount VHF is certainly preferable. For your application, the built-in GPS of the Standard Horizon 1600 is a great choice. DSC is a life-saving feature on a radio and it is important to have one while on the water. Wiring a VHF radio to a GPS isn't overly complicated but over 90% of boaters never complete the connections. Having a built-in GPS guarantees you the right outcome.