by Conrad & Judy Kreuter
A VHF radio will increase your ability to summon help on the water, allow you to monitor weather forecasts, as well as provide ship to ship communication. The US Coast Guard monitors channel 16 on your VHF radio and recommends all vessels have their radio on and tuned to this channel while underway.
Installing a VHF radio in your boat is a straightforward project. Check with your IMD dealer to select the radio that closely matches your intended use. He can provide expert guidance and explain the features and benefits of each radio.
You will also need the following parts to complete the installation; either a 3-foot whip antenna or a standard length VHF antenna; a plastic or chrome antenna mount; and miscellaneous stainless steel fasteners to mount the antenna and radio to the boat.
Find a suitable location to mount the radio. This should be close to the helm station for easy access but should not interfere with normal operator functions. Install the radio into the mounting bracket and hold it in the desired location making sure you have clearance around the radio. Drill 4 mounting holes for the radio bracket and use either self-tapping screws or thru bolt the bracket. Drill two holes for the microphone holder and install it with the screws provided. Drill another hole large enough to pass the power leads and antenna wire through.
Select the location to mount the antenna. It should be in a spot where the antenna wire can be routed to the radio easily. Make sure you can reach the back of the antenna mount, which you will have to thru bolt. Drill 4 holes using the antenna mount as a pattern. Install the antenna on the mount and thru bolt the mount to the boat. Drill a small hole near the base of the antenna and run the antenna wire thru it. Cover this hole with a small vent to make a neat appearance and keep water out of the hole. Run the power leads and antenna wire thru to the inside of the boat and to the radio. Mount the antenna connector using the instructions provided with the radio. Connect the antenna to the radio, and the power leads to a 12 DC power source.
To test the radio, tune to an active weather channel in your area. This will test your receiver. To test the transmit portion of the radio tune to a ship to ship calling channel in your area and ask for a radio check.