The big consumer electronics company Cobra has gotten serious about marine VHF, introducing both this feature-packed handheld and a Class D DSC fixed radio. For instance, the $170 HH425 and the $190 F80 are each submersible and backed by three-year warranties. Both also offer a "rewind, play again" feature that spaceshots like me will find handy—a built-in memory chip records the last 20 seconds of whatever breaks squelch on the channel(s) you’re monitoring, giving you a second chance to catch a call.
The 425 also includes a full 5-watt GMRS (a.k.a. "family radio") transceiver, along with goodies like privacy codes, individual caller rings, and VOX (hands-free) operation. That means that with a couple of inexpensive GMRS handsets, perhaps from market leader Cobra, you’ll have a sophisticated communications network for use around a marina and beyond (unlike VHF, GMRS is land legal). You can even set up the 425 to scan both selected VHF and GMRS channels simultaneously, though a little manual investigation is required. In fact, most of the 425's features do entail some operational complexity, plus I found its ergonomics clunkier than more conventional handhelds, like the Icom M34 handheld VHF.
This article originally appeared in the June 2007 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.