What is VHF and how does it work?
The most popular method of communicating with other boats is via very high frequency (VHF) radio.
To ensure that maritime users do not cause interference for other radio users, a part of the radio spectrum has been allocated specifically to this group and to make operation as simple as possible frequencies have been put into numbered channels. For example, Channel 16. Radio does not recognise geographic or political boundaries, and to ensure that boats travelling on international voyages can always communicate, the VHF marine band is the same all around the world. There are 55 international marine channels, a similar number of private channels (allocated on a local basis to commercial organisations) and some other unique national channels.
To make sure that your radio is fitted with the correct local channels, be sure to purchase type-approved equipment in the country of intended use.
Marine fixed units
For vessels with battery power, a fixed radio is usually a good choice. Several models are usually available with varying features, although the basic radio functions remain the same.
Units are traditionally designed to fit neatly in any cockpit or helm. Fixed radios do require installing and this will include connection to a power source and an antenna. When thinking about where to site your radio you should think about how it will be used.
You will probably need to use it whilst navigating, but may need to use it at the helm when entering or leaving port. Think carefully before installing. You will need to run power and aerial leads to the unit and be able to access all of its functions.
Handheld VHF radios work in exactly the same way as their fixed equivalents. Many of the features are shared and in Icom’s range they even follow the same operating protocol to help people who use both types.