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Icom M71 marine VHF.

Ideas, suggestions or broken links? Please email me with details.

Aquapacs for VHF radio - a number of people have found that using an Aquapac (or similar) waterproof case for a VHF, even a waterproof one, will kill the set very quickly. See this discussion, and similar comment in this broader discussion on VHFs.

Batteries - VHF etc - general advice in this discussion. Problems with the charging terminals on some Icom batteries (in the IC-M31, IC-M33, IC-M35 and also the earlier Euro MIV) are discussed here. If replacing a standard battery with a battery tray to take AA's or similar, be aware that on some radios the transmission power drops drastically - see this comment.

Caring for electronic gear in a "wet" environment - discussion

Choosing a marine VHF - This is one of those areas, like waterproof cameras, which is constantly evolving so it's worth running a search of the forums to check for current discussions which may not have been noted in the Almanac. This document compares the specs of a number of different marine VHF sets - see also this discussion. Useful discussion on choosing a radio, also this one and this one. This discussion provides an update on handheld DSC radio (August 2010). This discussion deals with an annoying feature of Icom VHF's where the "lock function" can be over-riden. This discussion on the Standard Horizon HX851E also includes reference to EPIRB / PLB as an alternative to DSC. Discussion referencing Icom M71 and Standard Horizon HX280E. Should you choose a VHF with DSC, or a VHF + standalone PLB? See this 2016 discussion which includes a very concise summary from a professional marine communications officer.

Coastguard Contact details and Operating Areas for Search & Rescue. The UKSKGB "Easy Reference Sheets" also have this information - Scotland - Western England & Wales - Eastern England - summary sheets with paddling speed calculators, wind speed chart, CG contact & MSI Broadcast Times, Marine VHF channels - (.PDF) - if you would like the Word originals to personalise for yourself, please contact me. Specific MSI and VHF details for Ireland are in this PDF produced by John Rushton - it prints at A4 and then folds up for laminating.

DSC radio - these are becoming more available in UK, the Standard Horizon HX851E being one such, Icom MC91D being another. Some concerns are being voiced over battery life though. This discussion provides a concise summary of what DSC is, and the pros / cons of the concept. Should you choose a VHF with DSC, or a VHF + standalone PLB? See this 2016 discussion which includes a very concise summary from a professional marine communications officer.

EPIRB / PLB - discussion. This discussion references EPIRB / PLB's with GPS. This discussion on VHF also references EPIRBs. EPIRB v PLB - disussion. Fastfind 220 versus Kannad Solo - discussion. These devices must be registered with Ofcom, and on-line registration for 406 MHz PLB's can be found here. The McMurdo Fastfind PLB is a popular choice with many sea kayakers.

Icom Marine VHF - downloads of Product Manuals.

Icom IC M71 review. The latest version is the M73, which is essentially the same set.

Icom website.

Licences / Operators Certificates for VHF radio - in UK you need a licence for the radio, called a Ship Portable Radio Licence. That's obtainable (free) from Ofcom on-line once you've registered. To get started, click here. Basically you first need to Register - they send you your Log-in details and then you can apply on-line. That licence is valid for your lifetime, but does have to be revalidated every 10 years. To operate the VHF legally (other than in an emergency or just to monitor MSI etc) you also need a Marine Radio Short Range Certificate (SRC) - which requires you to pass a short test to get one. That is valid for your lifetime. See also this summary by Roland Woollven on the Oban Canoe Club website. If you hold an old licence (pre-1999) you need to upgrade your qualification if you purchase new equipment with DSC. The link takes you to the RYA which has details of centres where you can get training. (Look for "Marine Radio Short Range Certificate Course"). It's also worth asking your local CG for details of courses in your area - see the Coastguard Operating Areas above. Annoyingly, quite a lot of the course will be devoted to the DSC aspect, but it is nevertheless an excellent (essential) course to learn to use the set properly. An increasing number of handheld sets now offer DSC facility, the Standard Horizon HX851E being one such and the Icom MC91D being another. Some concerns are being voiced over battery life though and it should be remembered that these sets are still limited to the range available to any VHF radio.

Marine Safety Information (MSI) broadcast schedules - from the UK Coastguard - Inshore & Area Forecasts on marine VHF. See also this draft document (2014) from MCA which inlcudes aerial locations, broadcast times and specific channels for each area. Similar information for Ireland in this jpeg.

Marine VHF channels to use. Includes a list of the general "working channels". Note that specific high traffic areas will often have designated channels for different purposes. Channel information for Inland Waterways, Locks and Estuaries is included in Appendix A & B of this info from British Waterways.

Mayday / Pan pan / phonetic alphabet. Summary of protocols and procedures for emergency calls, and the phonetic alphabet.

PLB - see EPIRB / PLB above.

Standard Horizon HX851E - discussion that also references other Standard Horizon sets.

Standard Horizon website.

"VHF Radio (Including GMDSS)" - described as 'the complete marine VHF radio syllabus explained', this is a very useful publication from the RYA covering everything needed for the licencing course, and a helpful "instruction manual" for the correct use of VHf. Essential reading. ISBN: 0-901501-84-0 . Available from the RYA Shop, most chandlers and decent bookshops for about £6.50.

VHF or Mobile Phone? - discussion. CG recommend carrying a suitable marine VHF and knowing how to use it rather than relying on a mobile phone.


(Updated 23-Mar-2016 )