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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Bridge VHF Radio Update

As of today we have added a hand-held VHF radio to our arsenal of electronics on board The Key of Sea. After exploring the options for replacing the aging radio currently residing on our bridge, we finally made what I think will be a good choice.

The options were interesting. After replacing the radio at the main helm I had several options related to that radio for a comm station on the bridge. An extension cable could be run to the bridge where several hand-held options could have been purchased that would plug in and run off the main unit below. Sounded good and with the power and capabilities of that radio, extending its use to the bridge seemed like a good idea. But what if the main radio were to loose its power? Obviously the interconnectedness of the comm system would cause the entire system to go down rendering the boat unable to communicate with the outside world. Not good!

Enter new option. After conferring with a boating friend, who is not only the Commodore of the local Coast Guard Auxiliary, but also owns a Bayliner 32, about potential options, I decided to look into a hand-held stand alone radio that is portable, could be taken anywhere on board or even into the dinghy if needed. In other words, a radio that would offer more options.

My choice was an ICOM IC-M34 with 5-watts of power. This was a concern initially since I knew our main radio had 25-watts of power. Would the hand-held have the power to do the job? It was pointed out that we'd be using the new hand-held primarily on the fly bridge which is 15 feet above sea level. This fact adds to the line of sight broadcast of the radio and increase its range if only a bit. At any rate we don't plan to be out of sight of land so this radio should function just fine for our purposes. The fact that it also floats, though we don't intend to drop it in water, is nevertheless a nice feature.

So with this purchase our absolute needs for electronics aboard are fulfilled. Next, a bit at a time, we'll replace the depth finder and eventually the radar, though it is still working very well. So no rush and that means other items needing attention can be the focus of our limited budget. We need to save towards a Fall 2010 haul out that will include a repaint of the bottom and most likely reseating and or replacement of transponders and other through hulls. A big summer ahead!