I) VHF Marine Portable
II) ASN technology
III) The characteristics of a portable VHF
IV) Portable VHF: legislation
V) Various uses
VI) The portable marine VHF at Comptoir Nautique
THE guide to buying portable hdvs
Mandatory or optional, depending on your navigation program, the portable marine VHF is, in any case, an important safety element on your boat. From the most basic to the most powerful, with or without DSC, GPS or AIS, independent or coupled to the fixed VHF; models and variations abound, leaving us with a plethora of VHFs at all prices, so it is difficult to make the right choice.
In this guide, we will try to guide you, inform you and help you choose your future portable VHF.
What is a portable marine VHF? What do the regulations say about VHF? What advantages does a portable VHF have? What are the different options offered by portable radios? Which model of portable VHF is best suited to your use and needs?
So many questions that we will try to clarify here.
If you want to know everything about fixed VHFs, consult our dedicated guide " Choosing your fixed VHF".
What is a portable marine VHF?
The emission power of this equipment is regulated and limited to 6 Watts. You will generally find on the market portable VHF of 1W, 2W, 5W or 6W. The range of the transmitted and received signal depends on this transmission power. The maximum range for a 6W portable VHF will be approximately 5 miles. This range may seem quite adequate for coastal navigation, but it is too limited for semi-offshore or offshore navigation. In these cases, it will be a very useful complement to the fixed VHF.
Portable VHF with DSC technology
What is the ASN and the MMSI number?
The use of a VHF with DSC (Digital Selective Calling) is subject to obtaining a boating license or CRR, we will return to these legal obligations in more detail.
A VHF, portable or even fixed, with DSC technology, must be associated with a MMSI number (Maritime Mobile Service Identity). This number, issued by the Agence Nationale des Fréquences (ANFR), is unique to each boat and allows for quick identification of the vessel and its owner. Often coupled with a GPS, the DSC drastically reduces the intervention time of the rescue services by transmitting precise data.
A button located on the device (often red and silk-screened "Distress") allows a distress signal to be sent directly to the maritime authorities or to nearby ships and vessels equipped with a receiver.
However, this system is not limited to emergency calls, it also allows you to communicate directly with another boat whose MMSI you know. You can then contact him directly and send him messages, just like a telephone. You will also be able to retrieve its position, course, speed... This data can then be read on your card reader or laptop.
You will have understood that this MMSI number is linked to a single boat. You will therefore only use your portable VHF with this one boat. There is no need to take it aboard your neighbor's sailboat, your sister-in-law's fast frigate or the youngest child's RIB. It would be risky to give wrong data to the rescue services at sea in case of damage or shipwreck.
How to link your portable VHF with your MMSI number?
When you receive your new equipment, you will find a form to send to the ANFR, the only one authorized to assign you this identification number. You will then enter this number in your VHF.
If your boat is already identified with this MMSI, you will only need to register it in your new VHF.
If you want to change this number (because you are buying a new boat, or a used VHF), it is up to the manufacturer to do this, not you.
However, this MMSI number can be shared by several VHFs on the same boat. In this case, your portable VHF is connected to your fixed VHF. The two will work together. This is very useful when you need to stay at the helm, for example, to communicate with other passengers or to keep in touch with the occupants of your dinghy.
The best portable VHF with DSC
VHF RT 420 DSC MAX
Standard Horizon's HX890 is a high-performance portable VHF with built-in GPS. With a large display and simple keys. It is a reliable, full-featured, floating VHF with DSC capability. Menu only in English.
TheIC-M94DE is the first portable radio that offers users the ability to receive information broadcast by other vessels equipped withAIS. Battery life of 10 hours. RF output power of 6W. Integrated DSC and GNSS receivers.
What are the characteristics of a portable VHF?
The battery and autonomy
A portable VHF is subject to a limited autonomy that should be taken into account when choosing it.
This autonomy is not a real problem, as long as you have a 12V charging point on your boat. With batteries ranging from approximately 1000 mAh to 2000 mAh, you can expect, depending on the model, an autonomy between 8 and 20 hours. Lithium-Ion and Li-Polymer battery technologies are mostly used here.
Just like your cell phone, or electronic device, you'll want to be sure to charge your portable VHF before you go out, and monitor its charge level, while optimizing its use.
Buoyancy and waterproofing index
The vast majority of portable marine VHFs on the market are waterproof. However, their level of waterproofing varies from model to model. A standardized waterproofing index, or envelope protection index (IP) allows us to distinguish them. For the products we are interested in here, we will go from IPx5 to IPx8.
- IPx5: Protected against water jets from all directions, as well as dust and other microscopic residues.
- IPx6: Protected against strong water jets from all directions, and fully protected against dust.
- IPx7: Protected against the effects of temporary immersion, up to 1 m, for 30 min.
- Ipx8: Equipment submersible beyond 1 m under conditions specified by the manufacturer in time and pressure4. Normally, this means that the equipment is hermetically sealed, however, with some types of equipment, it may mean that water can penetrate, but without producing harmful effects.
In another case, if you sail a jet-ski, the risks of splashing and immersion are greater. It is better, then, that your equipment is perfectly waterproof.
Similarly, you'll need to choose between a floating or non-floating portable VHF. The same examples can illustrate this point. But you'll find that for a VHF to float, you need to optimize its weight. The best way to do this is to choose a lighter battery. A lighter battery will also have less range. We can conclude that buoyancy is detrimental to range. CQFD.
You can still equip your portable VHF with a floating pouch if it is not.
Note that some portable marine VHF can be coupled to a "man overboard" (or MOB) system and trigger alarms, including to the rescue services (CROSS, SNSM ...) or to the crew, in case a member goes overboard.
The best waterproof and floating portable VHFs
The HX40E from Standard Horizon is a portable, floating, waterproof VHF with high performance. It is equipped with a large screen with a very visible, backlit Dot Matrix display. You can access all functions simply and quickly thanks to its "E2O" (Easy to Operate) menu.
The IC-M37E from Icom is a6 Watts floating portable VHF allowing to communicate quickly on a channel of your choice. Equipped with the AquaQuake system and a large display it is a robust and very powerful VHF.
What does the legislation say about VHF?
Prerequisites for the use of a VHf
The fixed VHF, coupled with a waterproof portable VHF, is mandatory for offshore navigation (beyond 60 miles from a shelter). The fixed VHF is also mandatory for semi-offshore navigation (between 6 and 60 miles from a shelter).
In coastal navigation (between 300m and 6 miles), the radio system is mandatory only on human powered craft (sea kayak, Polynesian pirogue...), or rental boats.
According to the documentation from the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transitionthe use of a portable VHF with a maximum power of 6 watts without DSC does not require any specific qualification in French territorial and inland waters.
Training such as the CRR (Certificat Restreint de Radiotéléphonie), or the Pleasure Craft License, allows access to VHF with DSC and to navigation outside French territorial waters. These qualifications offer an additional guarantee of safety when you decide to go to sea.
QUALIFICATIONS and LICENSES
The legislation on the use of VHF in a few points * :
- For the use of a portable VHF with a maximum power of 6 watts without DSC, no specific qualification is required.
- For the use of a DSC portable VHF or a fixed VHF, with or without DSC, of more than 6 watts, the theoretical and practical knowledge necessary for the use of the VHF is integrated in the training program and in the exam of the pleasure boat driver's license.
- The holder of the pleasure craft license can thus operate a VHF, fixed or portable, in national maritime or inland waters without having to pass an additional exam. The theoretical exam for the coastal option or the inland water option consists of 30 questions and includes questions on the VHF.
- People who do not hold a pleasure boat license are stillrequired to have a CRR. For information and registration formalities, contact the Agence nationale des fréquences.
- Make sure your VHF is properly initialized and connected to the GPS. In French inland waters, the use of DSC is prohibited.
EMBArCATION WITHOUT MOTOR
As VHF is mandatory for any manually propelled boat beyond the 300 m band, we thought it wise to remind you that such devices will be useful in other contexts than on a pleasure sailboat or a motorboat.
Whether you practice sea kayaking , canoeing, rowing, stand up paddle (SUP) or Polynesian canoe, you must equip yourself with a VHF, in addition to a personal flotation device and a light.
You will also find a use for the portable VHF in other activities or maritime sports: light sailing (catamaran, dinghy...), kitesurfing, downwind kitefoil, windsurfing or wingfoil. The VHF could be very useful in case of emergency, in order to warn as soon as possible the local CROSS or the SNSM or simply check the weather forecast.
The portable marine VHF at Comptoir Nautique
the marine electronics specialist
Comptoir Nautique, specialist and European number one in marine electronics, has put at your disposal a selection of portable VHF in different price ranges and meeting everyone's needs. You will certainly find the product that suits you, and always at the best price. Do not miss our accessories for VHF also available, you will find support, VHF charging cables and link cable of all kinds as well as replacement antennas for example for many models of portable VHF.
Our advisors are available to answer all your technical questions, but also questions about available stock or delivery times.
Whether you are sailing a sailboat, a motorboat, a RIB or a stand up paddle, the portable VHF will be your faithful safety ally.