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How far offshore for a two-way radio

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    Posted: 05 January 2015 at 11:28am
I had a friend ask me a question and I do not know the answer.  He is new to NC and wants to take his boat out to the wrecks off Atlantic Beach.  He asked how far offshore can he go without a two-way radio.  I don't know the answer and thought I would ask you guys.  He has a 19-foot boat.  I went to the Coast Guard Auxiliary website, but could not find the answer.  If you have a weblink for this information, please pass it along.  Thanks.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BaitWaster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2015 at 11:39am
VHF is line-of-site so depends on elevation of transmitting and receiving antennae.

So you would expect a shorter distance with a 3' whip on a flats/bay boat vs. an 8 footer on top of a t-top.

I have a 5' fiberglass on top of the grab rail over the windscreen and have no issue hearing Coast Guard out of Ft. Macon out 8-10 miles.   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bmac Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2015 at 12:07pm

10 - 25 miles, but it depends... Main factors are Line of sight  from antenna to antenna plus power of transmitter along with some other minor factors that can be significant when you need comms the most.  Below is more information than you probably want, but it explains it very well.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote sharker53 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2015 at 12:21pm
The way I read the question, my answer would be, I would not go anywhere without a 2 way radio. Just saying.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BaitWaster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2015 at 12:25pm
Out of Atlantic Beach, Sea Tow runs an automated radio check on channel 27. 

You transmit a radio check request and, if received, you'll get a comeback with a ditty about SeaTow's radio check service and then will rebroadcast your transmission so you can get a feeling of what your transmission sounded like to the receiving party. 

Always use this before leaving the dock in the Morehead.  No need to request radio check on 68 or 16 Unhappy
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ncflatfish Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2015 at 1:16pm
Thanks guys--this is great information for me to pass along.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Crabby Captain John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2015 at 1:20pm
He asked how far WITHOUT a VHF. My answer would be not at all but if real brave within cell phone range. I believe if going outside more than a very short distance one needs 2 VHF, one mounted and another handheld along with a PLB. Flares and other safety equipment are required.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BaitWaster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2015 at 1:35pm
Agree with sharker53.  If not going to have a VHF, never get out of cell phone range (depends on provider) and have a Lifeproof case with the floater LifeJacket.   

At a minimum, a handheld VHF with full charge.  At least you might be able to get someone to relay to Coasties/tow services.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ncflatfish Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2015 at 4:38pm

Right now we are thinking about just running out to AR-315 and up to the rock jetty.  I will suggest a handheld as a minimum and if they ever go further, then a permanent mount with antenna.  Thanks again for the information.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote trigger22 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2015 at 5:15pm
A fixed mount and antenna can be bought for about the same money as a good hand held for what it's worth. Much easier to deal with, no batteries to charge/replace. That said, a hand held is a nice addition to a ditch bag.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Crabby Captain John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2015 at 6:05pm
Originally posted by trigger22 trigger22 wrote:

A fixed mount and antenna can be bought for about the same money as a good hand held for what it's worth. Much easier to deal with, no batteries to charge/replace. That said, a hand held is a nice addition to a ditch bag.
 
Make sure you get a radio with DSC as almost all have it now. Be certain to get the MMS number from Boat US and register the boat/owner so if there is a problem all other boats in range and the CG can begin to search without you at the radio!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ncflatfish Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2015 at 6:49pm
That's good information.  I would never have known to register the number.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Crabby Captain John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2015 at 7:05pm
Originally posted by ncflatfish ncflatfish wrote:

That's good information.  I would never have known to register the number.
 
Few people take the 3 minutes to get the number and 5 minutes to register. When the stuff hits the fan 1 push of the button and your signal goes out. If too far from shore it can still work out as every boat with DSC relays your info to SAR. Instead of constantly being on the radio you can be working to fix the problem or to slow catastrophe.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mudtoad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2015 at 8:29pm
Cell phone is good to the nuckle 16 miles I think much better than a hand held vhf
too many sea foxes
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote CapRandy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 January 2015 at 8:44pm
Even if you can see the beach and possibly swim to it please buy a radio for your sake.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dog Daze Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 January 2015 at 6:00am
Originally posted by sharker53 sharker53 wrote:

The way I read the question, my answer would be, I would not go anywhere without a 2 way radio. Just saying.

I read it the same way. I would at least buy a handheld VHF for about $125. When standing up and talking you now have a 6' antennae and should be able to summon help from someone should you need it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fish Angel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 January 2015 at 9:19am
The Coast Guard, other military aircraft and boats plus a lot of merchant ships can home in on a VHF transmission. They cannot home in on a cellphone.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Crabby Captain John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 January 2015 at 9:41am
Originally posted by Dog Daze Dog Daze wrote:

Originally posted by sharker53 sharker53 wrote:

The way I read the question, my answer would be, I would not go anywhere without a 2 way radio. Just saying.

I read it the same way. I would at least buy a handheld VHF for about $125. When standing up and talking you now have a 6' antennae and should be able to summon help from someone should you need it.
 
Maybe things have changed but is a handheld 5 watts output and mounted 25???
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BaitWaster Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 January 2015 at 10:29am
Originally posted by Crabby Captain John Crabby Captain John wrote:

 
Maybe things have changed but is a handheld 5 watts output and mounted 25???

Good point.  Handheld 5/1, fixed 25/1


Edited by BaitWaster - 06 January 2015 at 10:30am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FishCommander Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 January 2015 at 10:46am
Great information guys! Thumbs Up
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ncflatfish Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 January 2015 at 2:56pm
I agree.  This is like taking a class in beginner off-shore radio 101.  Anyone thinking about venturing offshore for the first time needs to know all this information.  As we all know, things happen on the water that you don't expect and being properly prepared is very important.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Dog Daze Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 January 2015 at 4:25pm
Originally posted by FishCommander FishCommander wrote:

Great information guys! Thumbs Up

True, true, but I was thinking in this particular case that he doesn't need much range. Just enough to get one of the other 4000 boats near shore. The other thing to remember about a cell phone is that once you go in the water you no longer have a phone. We keep a nice waterproof handheld on board in case we have to go swimming.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Crabby Captain John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 January 2015 at 9:25pm

Wonder how he will explain location without lat/lon.....

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mudtoad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 January 2015 at 10:50pm
The same things happen on the water that happens on land you live and die. If either scares you should do something else. 8f I go in the water I am relying on the epirb not a dam hand held radio prayer would be a better choice. I have been going in the ocean for over fifty years in the beginning you had to rely on yourself
too many sea foxes
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Crabby Captain John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 January 2015 at 11:07pm
Originally posted by mudtoad mudtoad wrote:

The same things happen on the water that happens on land you live and die. If either scares you should do something else. 8f I go in the water I am relying on the epirb not a dam hand held radio prayer would be a better choice. I have been going in the ocean for over fifty years in the beginning you had to rely on yourself
 
Betting 99% of rec boats and many of comm fishing boats do not have charts on board. Betting the majority of captains that had to pass navigation for their license could not do it again and don't have tools on their boats. Comms are required to have an EPIRB but how many recs have even a PLB which should be required along with flares when going offshore? Things have changed beginning with Loran and the younger people are more electronic savvy and dependent in all areas of their life. We are dinosaurs.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kshivar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 February 2016 at 4:13pm
how far can he swim?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fish Angel Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 February 2016 at 6:27pm
I am a retired Coast Guard helicopter pilot. Here is the way that it is going to work without a VHF or EPIRB. You or someone on your boat is in trouble ie. injured, overboard, fire, lost, disabled, sinking, etc. Nothing happens because nobody knows it. Eventually (hopefully) someone will report you "overdue". A lot of time is then wasted trying to find out if you are really overdue or if you are just late or didn't let anybody know you are back, etc. After this research, a search, if the assets are available and not on a more urgent mission, will start. The response time for a small boat to get underway is 30 minutes, the response time for a helicopter crew (closest one is in E City) is 30 minutes. Add the flight time to a place that you may or may not be since they don't know. Remember that this initial search is going to be at night and it is unlikely that they will find you. Best case scenario is that you are found shortly after first light the next day - alive. Fire, man overboard, heart attack, serious bleeding, etc. someone is probably going to die. Activate an EPIRB and/or scream MAYDAY on your VHF and things happen almost immediately, and most important, they know where you are. Simple math: VHF radio with antenna about $300, PEPIRB about $250. By the way, bad things happen in shore also.
PS: If he fishes by himself, he should always use the "kill switch" and wear inflatable suspenders.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mudtoad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 February 2016 at 7:31pm
Your cell phone will work quiet well at more distance than a hand held
too many sea foxes
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CapRandy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 February 2016 at 5:38pm
My cell works or did at NW Places,radio picks up chatter as well and theres no boats in sight same area,anywhere from Knuckle in its been good.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bmac Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 February 2016 at 12:07pm
Cell phones are great for keeping in touch with family and friends, fooling the boss into thinking that you're telecommuting that day and not fishing or for passing fishing hot spots to your buddy without everybody on Ch 68 converging on the same spot. They are inadequate by themselves for emergencies at sea. You should have a VHF marine radio. Read what Fish Angel said. He did this for a living and is right on the money.
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