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A 2022 Guide To Marine Radios

A 2022 Guide To Marine Radios

on June 06, 2022

A 2022 Guide To Marine Radios

Mariners use marine radios for many purposes, including contacting their marinas and harbors and summoners of rescue services. They can also communicate with other ships in distress or ashore parties such as coastguards who may need assistance on the waterway.

A simple way that you could keep your family safe at night would involve investing some money into getting yourself a good quality listening device, so they're always within reach if there's an emergency!

You may be overwhelmed by the variety of marine radios on offer, but don't worry! We've compiled this guide to help you make an informed decision.

And once you've made a decision, be sure to check out our radios. You can go wrong with Marine Supplies US. 

Types of Marine Radio

Handled VHF

These small, lightweight radio systems are more like walkie-talkies than regular Ham Radios. They're reliable and waterproof, so you can take them in the water without worrying about damaging them!

Many models also include integrated GPS or DSC (Digital Smart Watch), which makes for great functionality when out exploring on land; just make sure that whatever model YOU choose has these features if wanted the most attention from your adventure partner!.

VHF Fixed Radio

If you have access to a boat's power source, you can install a fixed radio on your boat. These are the most popular choice because the VHF Fixed Radio includes desirable features such as an antenna and an aux-in jack.

They are waterproof, but they must be protected from the sun and water. You'll also need some skill to install it, though.

HF/SSB (Long Range)

If you want to go out on the water and do some severe boating, an SSB radio is an attractive option. These radios are less powerful but can still produce a stronger signal for better communication than ordinary AM/FM radios.

These radios are also ideal for relaying information across vessels. To use these radios, you must be licensed.

A marine talking into a boat radio

Features of A Marine Radio

Battery Life

If you want a battery-operated hand radio, you'll need to determine how long the battery lasts. If you use rechargeable batteries, they should last between seven and 20 hours before needing to be recharged.

The size of your radio and its power settings will impact the battery life. On average, lighter radios with advantageous features tend to have shorter battery lives.


All marine radios require an antenna. The signal range of a radio can be determined by the antenna. The tallest antennas are mounted at the top of the mast. A coax cable with a larger diameter is also required to connect the antenna to your radio.

Handheld radios have an antenna built-in. They don't generate as many radio signals as fixed devices.

Digital Selective Calling (DSC)

The Private Communication feature allows you to communicate privately and transmit directions to others. It's also a component of the Global Maritime Distress Safety System.

Push a single button, and the radio will send out a Mayday blast on the designated channel immediately by the USCG. This speeds up response time while avoiding any possibility of user error.


A GPS-equipped radio may be used to transmit your precise position and navigation. The USCG can obtain an exact coordinate from the DSC.

In non-emergency situations, you can quickly inform another person of your coordinates. You may also save your current location for future reference.


The higher-end models come with features that make operating your radio easier. A drop-in charging base keeps your radio charged or alkaline batteries that extend the life of your radio.

An antenna adaptor allows you to connect your handheld radio to your boat's antenna, giving it more powerful signaling strength.


A good handheld radio should be easy to hold. Non-slip finishes might be beneficial because it prevents unintentional drops. Fixed radios on boats must be appealing since they are permanently attached.

You have a variety of options for color selection for your boat's interior. The show must be big enough to see and understand with either type of radio.

Purpose of Use

Consider the sort of boating you do before beginning your search. It's preferable to find a fixed VHF radio that can also be used for navigation and a portable handheld radio in case of an emergency.

Furthermore, you'll need a radio that can monitor many channels simultaneously while transmitting at greater power. If you are going to the seaside, a smaller radio with less energy will be preferable.


The range of a marine radio is determined by its power. The maximum output for handheld marine radios is 6 watts. Under the right circumstances, this may provide you with up to 20 miles of coverage. The wattage of your battery declines as it drains faster.

A radio with adjustable power and wattage settings is a wise option. You may reduce the power of your radio to save battery life when you don't need it. Some radios offer fast boost choices that allow you to change over to total capacity quickly.


You'll lose buoyancy if you pick a hefty battery. In the event of a fall, many handheld marine radios may float on water, which is a helpful feature. Radios that are meant to float on the water will have excellent waterproofing.

If you're in the water and your radio falls out of your hands, a waterproof radio may save your life. A waterproof radio is recommended even if you don't fall overboard regularly. IPX7 or IPX8 is the most dependable IP rating level.

Channel Monitoring

It's good to keep an eye on several channels when out on the water. Dual Watch is a handheld marine radio that may monitor two frequencies simultaneously.

A radio that can monitor three channels at once is called Tri Watch. For example, Tri Watch will track Channel 09 as your primary channel while monitoring any third channel you select.

It is beneficial to monitor multiple channels, so you should pay attention when browsing.

Weather Updates

Various radios are linked to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and receive weather updates regularly.

These alerts might save your life and keep you away from the storm's path. Some radios have built-in alarms that go off when NOAA issues a weather warning. NOAA alerts are available nationwide. 

Noise reduction

Noise-cancelling and noise reduction are two of the many technological advancements that help to minimize the amount of sound reaching your ears. This technique cancels background noise while also insulating speech. 

Audio is cleaned up by eliminating sound effects such as wind blowing, crashing waves, or engine noise that may cause message clarity issues.

A marine radio

Which Marine Radio Should You Buy?

Consider the reasons why you need a VHF radio. A VHF radio is required by anybody who uses a boat, whether they're a sea kayaker, sailor, or jet skier.

Handhelds should be simple to use and handle under pressure. They should have easy access keys and an intuitive user interface that is simple to use.

A DSC Handheld radio will enable you to contact an identically equipped craft via a unique MMSI number or send a distress message equipped with your location and identity by pressing the button.

Large motorboats or yachts sailing further offshore will require more excellent range, so a fixed-mount unit is better. Dual station control may be used with the remote handset for larger vessels. All yachts and motorboats need AIS.

Permits To Operate the Radio

For boaters using an HF radio or VHF transceiver traveling in foreign waters, the FCC Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit (FCC) is necessary (on vessels 20 meters or more in length). This lifetime permit is subject to a charge.

However, no tests are needed for the application on an FCC.

How to Use a Marine Radio

This is the standard procedure for non-emergency calls, such as asking where to tie up for dinner. The following should be your method of calling the vessel, marina, or restaurant on channels 9 and 16.

  • Three times, the station name is spoken.
  • Once, the words "THIS IS" were spoken.
  • Name of your vessel, call sign (if applicable to station licenses), or the number for boat registration.
  • The word "OVER."
  • You then wait for the station to return your call. The station's answer should be the same as your call.
  • Once you have received a response, it is time to suggest that you go to a working channel to continue your conversation.
  • The word "OVER."
  • Wait for confirmation or a reply from the station being called. Then switch to the active channel, and repeat the process.

A man talking into a radio while standing a boat

Should I listen To All Noise On The Marine Radio?

You should only listen to official Coast Guard communications on marine radio.

The Coast Guard continually monitors all marine radio frequencies and broadcasts essential safety information, weather updates, and other critical announcements. It's important to only listen to authorized Coast Guard transmissions to ensure the safety of yourself and other boaters.

Which Channels Are best To Use On Marine Radio?

Three VHF marine radio channels were established by the International Telecommunications Union and are internationally recognized for safety reasons:

  • Channel 13 (156.650MHz) – for Internship navigation, bridge-to-bridge
  • Channel 16 (156.800MHz) – for safety, distress, and calling
  • Channel 70 (156.525MHz) – for Digital Selective Calling

Marine radios are a vital piece of safety equipment for any boat. There are many different types and features of marine radios, so it can be challenging to know which one is right for you.

This guide has hopefully helped make the process a little bit easier. To get a marine radio, visit Marine Supplies US today.

Questions And Answers 

What are the benefits of having a Marine Radio on your boat? 

-Being able to communicate with other boats and harbormasters
-Being able to call for help in case of an emergency
-Being able to listen to weather forecasts and alerts
-Being able to get information about traffic congestion, hazards, and other important maritime news.

Are Marine Radios required by law? 

In the United States, marine radios are required by law in vessels that are required to carry emergency equipment.


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