A marine VHF radio remains the most useful communication device to have aboard any recreational boat.
And for good reasons: They are relatively inexpensive, they have no monthly user fees, and they can be used for routine voice traffic as well as emergency calls.
Most importantly, when an emergency call is placed with a boat radio it goes out to everyone within range.
Other methods of communicating by voice, via cell phone, for example, have become popular and do have a place on a boat, just not as the primary communications tool.
A cell phone is a one-on-one communication channel through a connection that can often be poor.
Does the “Can you hear me now?” commercial come to mind?
It is much better to trust proven technology like a boat radio with your primary communications duties.
The electronic circuit designs in today’s boat radios have remained basically the same for decades. Performance though has changed significantly over the years and continues to do so. This mandates the need for our detailed testing with the proper equipment to really know how well a radio is operating.
That is exactly what we do here at Marine Electronics Reviews.
The implementation of Digital Selective Calling or DSC has altered the landscape in the boat radio marketplace. A required function in any newly designed VHF radio since 1999, DSC allows for limited amount of digital information to be transmitted by your boat radio. Today, even the least expensive VHF radios can have an extensive list of DSC capabilities.
More on Marine Radios for Boaters
With all the options and features available on a modern boat VHF radio you will need some ideas on what will meet your specific needs. Our best marine radio page does just that by listing the most important things to look for when buying a boat radio.
If you are new to boating or have just installed a VHF aboard your boat for the first time review our tips on using a marine radio to avoid making mistakes.
In response to a reader question and after discussion with a marine radio expert from Raymarine I added a page to the site called more on marine VHF radios.