Handheld VHF Radio Safety Features


Sailing World Magazine has recently partnered with the US Coast Guard to present some very important boating safety guidelines.  Below is a repost of one of their recent articles.  You can learn more, check out some great videos and take a boating safety quiz at http://www.sailingworld.com/boatingsafety/

The handheld VHF radio may seem outmoded in an age of ubiquitous cell phones, but the capabilities and safety features of VHF stand apart. Unlimited by shorebound transmitters, VHF provides an enlarged safety net and allows immediate communication with other nearby vessels. You don’t have to know their phone numbers to call for assistance, and the Coast Guard is a button push away. That’s a pretty solid case for the VHF, but roll in some of the added features that manufacturers pack into these little radios, and the benefit to anglers becomes apparent.
Safety Link
Standard Horizon’s Jason Kennedy says the company’s HX400 ($199) is a useful VHF for anglers. “This radio has a built-in voice scrambler — it sounds like Charlie Brown’s schoolteacher talking,” he says. Other anglers will have to have a similar radio to unscramble the message, but your message and information will definitely remain private. Just like fishermen like it. It also has a boost in battery reserve. The improved lithium-ion battery has double the life of a standard conventional battery.

Navico ’s flagship handheld, available as the Lowrance LHR80 ($199) or the Simrad HH33 ($249), incorporates GPS to allow it to work in Digital Selective Calling mode. DSC allows for semiprivate hailing and communication, and also position polling and sharing, says Navico product expert Jeremiah Clark. DSC is a handy feature, but it requires acquiring an MMSI number — essentially a phone number — for the VHF radios you want to communicate with. The integrated GPS also serves as a backup, says Clark. With the radio in the charging cradle, the NMEA 0183 output on the cradle allows lat/long information to output to a chart plotter or any other instrument that accepts NMEA 0183 data.

Cell Link
Cobra put a couple of distinctive features in the MRHH 475 ($179), says marketing manager Christopher Kooistra, and both are particularly useful on open boats. The Say Again feature allows the last 20 seconds of a transmission to be replayed. The other feature is the Bluetooth link that patches your cell phone through the VHF.

“You pair the cell phone with the Bluetooth headset,” says Kooistra, “and when you get a call, the radio rings. You press Bluetooth and take the call over the VHF. This allows the cell phone to remain tucked away where it’s safe and dry.” Additionally, says Kooistra, “The noise-canceling function of the VHF reduces the problem of wind noise, and the quality of the call far surpasses anything the cell phone is capable of.”

To call out, you can dial from the cell phone and transfer the call to Bluetooth; you can remotely dial the last call received; or, with a cell phone that allows voice dialing, you can initiate a call by speaking a name through the Bluetooth.

Room to Move
Icom is targeting the small-boat market with its newest radio, the IC-M24 ($179), the smallest floating handheld on the market, says David McLain, national sales manager. It features a flasher that automatically deploys if the unit falls in the water, making it a great emergency tool as well. Even when the radio is off, if there is any juice in the battery, the
LED flasher kicks on in the water to help you find it in the dark.

The IC-M24 has a newly designed single-cell battery with enough capacity for 10 hours of standby power. And since a strong reserve and high capacity are prerequisites for coupling GPS to VHF, Icom is well positioned to continue improving the features and functionality in its handheld VHFs.

Get with DSC
Digital Selective Calling relies on a radio-specific “telephone number” called a Marine Mobile Service Identity. It’s free online from BoatUS (boatus.com) or Sea Tow (seatow.com). Armed with an MMSI number, your unit will broadcast your identity and location, along with any SOS that’s sent, when the distress button is activated.

You can also share your position on a chart plotter with friends with whom you have swapped MMSI numbers, allowing tracking — called position polling — and spoken communication in relative secrecy via the same DSC function.

* * * * *

The U.S. Coast Guard is asking all boat owners and operators to help reduce fatalities, injuries, property damage, and associated healthcare costs related to recreational boating accidents by taking personal responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their passengers. Essential steps include: wearing a life jacket at all times and requiring passengers to do the same; never boating under the influence (BUI); successfully completing a boating safety course; and getting a Vessel Safety Check (VSC) annually from local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, United States Power Squadrons(r), or your state boating agency’s Vessel Examiners. The U.S. Coast Guard reminds all boaters to “Boat Responsibly!” For more tips on boating safety, visit www.uscgboating.org.

Team Fireball – Powered By J World Annapolis – Wins Annapolis To Newport PHRF 1 Division


By BILL WAGNER bwagner@capgaznews.com

That Fireball was listed as a first-time entry in the Annapolis-to-Newport Race was a bit of a misnomer.

Many members of the crew had competed in the biennial event before with skipper Kristen Berry and tactician Mike Coe having four Annapolis-to-Newport Races under their belt. Berry, Coe and almost everyone else on Team Fireball is involved with the sailing industry around Annapolis.

That collective experience explains why the rookie entry performed so well in the 2013 Annapolis-to-Newport Race, which began last Friday and officially finished on Tuesday when the Hunter 340 Brigadoon was last boat to cross the line off Castle Hill Lighthouse.

“We had a very strong team, a lot of outstanding sailors with plenty of offshore experience,” said Berry, co-director of J/World Annapolis.

Team Fireball had a lot to celebrate upon arrival in Newport as the J/111 took first place on corrected time in the highly-competitive PHRF 1 class. Coe and navigator Eddie Frederick chose to take Fireballapproximately 20 miles east of the rhumb line and that strategy worked out.

“We made a somewhat risky decision to go offshore, but doing so set us up well. We were able to sail under Code Zero pointed toward Newport for about 35 hours,” Berry said.

Berry was referring to the huge asymmetrical spinnaker that provides the most speed in downwind or reaching conditions. Except during periods of extreme light air,Fireball carried that sail shortly after rounding Chesapeake Light until about 15 miles before Block Island. Unfortunately, the remainder of the race was not as comfortable.

“Just as we thought we were home free the wind turned around and we were close-hulled for the last six hours into Newport, beating in the rain and dark,” Berry said.

Despite enduring the upwind slog for the final jaunt from Block Island to Castle Hill Light, Fireball managed to beat the other five finishers in PHRF 1 with a corrected time of three days, two hours and 25 minutes. Saykadoo, a J/120 skippered by Steve McManus of Severna Park, was a very close second — almost 24 minutes behind when time allowances were factored.

“This is a huge accomplishment and we are all very happy. I don’t think it’s quite set in just yet,” said Berry, speaking by cell phone a few hours after Fireball finished. “This was a group of good friends doing a classic race. We had a great boat that is perfect for a sprint distance race like this. Everything just came together real well.”

Coe, the tactician, is a professional with the North Sails-Chesapeake loft. One of the trimmers was Jeff Jordan, is the other co-director of J/World Annapolis. Rounding out the crew were Grady Byus (North Point Yacht Sales), Greg Lines (J/World) and Andrew Boren (J/World).

“This race gave us a little bit of everything. We went through every sail in the inventory,” Berry said. “We blasted out of the Chesapeake Bay and were doing 18 knots at one point with the A2 spinnaker. We were totally becalmed in the Atlantic Ocean for about seven hours. All in all, it was a very interesting and wild passage.”

Irie, a TP52 skippered by Greg Alden of Arnold, was first to finish among PHRF entries — crossing the line at 1:23 p.m. on Monday. Quantum Sail Design professional Scott Nixon called tactics while Dr. Robert Ranzenbach handled navigation aboard Irie. Veteran Annapolis sailors Ian Gordon and Matt Beck served as watch captains.

“This is an awesome boat for offshore racing and we sailed about as well as we could based on the conditions we were dealt,” Nixon said.

Irie was locked in a terrific battle with the other TP52 in the race — the Naval Academy entry Corsair. Those two boats engaged in a jibing duel upon approach to Block Island on Sunday night. Irie went east around Block Island while Corsair chose the inside route. That proved a costly decision as the Navy entry, skippered by Midshipman Andy Beeler, wound up finishing almost two hours behind its TP52 rival.

2013 Annapolis-to-Newport Race Results

(Boat, design, owner, homeport, corrected time)

IRC I (6 boats): 1, Rambler, Custom 90, George David, New York, 3 days, 7 hours, 30 minutes, 33 seconds; 2, Decision, Carkeek 40, Stephen Murray, New Orleans, 3D:15H:29M:38S; 3, Privateer, Cookson 50, Ron O’Hanley, Newport, RI, 3D:20H:41M:36S

IRC II (10 boats): 1, Vamp, J44, Leonard Sitar, Atlantic Highlands, NJ, 3 days, 15 hours, 20 minutes, 29 seconds; 2, Dolphin, J/122, Mdn. Neil McMillan, Naval Academy, Annapolis, 3D:16H:03M:09S; 3, Orion, J/122, Paul Milo, Annapolis, 3D:16H:33M:53S

IRC III (10 boats): 1, Jacqueline V, Hinckley SW 42, Bob Forman, West Islip, NY, 3 days, 14 hours, 49 minutes, 3 seconds; 2, Cygnette, Swan 441, William Mayer, Jamestown, RI, 3D:15H:20M:33S

3, Bandana, Swan 47, Charles Benson, Oxford, MD, 3D:15H:57M:16S

PHRF I (12 boats): 1, Fireball, J/111, Kristen Berry, Annapolis, 3 days, 2 hours, 25 minutes; 2, Saykadoo, J/120, Steve McManus, Severna Park, 3D:2H:48M:52S; 3, Velocity, J/111, Martin Roesch, Annapolis, 3D:3H:41M:20S

PHRF II (10 boats): 1, Flirt, Navy 44, Mdn. Jonathan Driesslein, Naval Academy, Annapolis, 3 days, 2 hours, 46 minutes, 20 seconds; 2, Huck’s Finn, Dehler 36, Jeff Leigh, Annapolis, 3D:3H:18M:19S; 3, Wharf Rat, CS 40, Larry Vazzano, Pasadena, MD, 3D:3H:48M

PHRF III (9 boats): 1, Actaea, Bermuda 40, Michael Cone, Georgetown, MD, 2 days, 19 hours, 33 minutes, 54 seconds; 2, Belle Aurore, Cal 40, Doug Jurrius, Oxford, MD, 3D:00H:51M:53S; 3, Razor’s Edge, Sabre 362, Frank Kendall, Annapolis, 3D:2H:25M:49S

Skip to toolbar