Date: 23 October 2019. VHF by my Bunk
I love my Seaweed for the
small details that make her special. One of those seemingly
inconsequential items is a $5 VHF. It was purchased at a used
nautical gear sale several years ago. The radio was old when purchased. This unit doesn't have all the
fancy whistles and bells. That said, I believe an inexpensive second radio is
thing for a cruising boater.
This VHF radio is mounted just above my pillow. I can reach
it without getting up.
Though I contend
this VHF radio is a decadent addition
to Seaweed does not mean this will be true on your boat!
A while back I hosted a person who
wished to experience life off the grid aboard a small boat. He was
disturbed the the radio broadcasts. After so many years afloat I tune out
run-of-the-mill messages and only truly listen when it is something
interesting or unusual.
He and his spouse bought a much larger boat than mine. Plus his
radio is only turned on when they are underway.
Smaller boats are
not for everyone. A boat the size of Seaweed would suit few. This
is tiny living on a boat. The views, people, and friendships make
this life Fabulous!
Treading Water comic by Irene Olds published in a
Cruising Outpost magazine.
In any event, after
years of working nights I am able to almost will myself to sleep.
It's a gift that is only accomplished by practice and/or exhaustion.
Two kidlets under the age of five can definitely assist with that
feeling of tiredness.
Here is my duo
↓ on their grandpa's
tow boat. Daddy operated a towing service back
independent operators were the norm. Now TowBoatUS and SeaTow
dominate the industry.
But I digress...
After we finally purchased a VHF radio back in the 1960s we almost
always had ours turned on. For me it became background. A radio also
filled the need for an easy method of communication with nearby
Back then (1960s)
cell phones did not exist. As I recall it, the VHF radio did not
become prevalent in most boats until the late 60's or early 1970s.
They were too expensive for all but the most wealthy boat owners.
Our first VHF radio cost $1000 if memory serves me.
Nowadays in an anchorage like this one many boats
will have a VHF radio turned on.
Boot Key Harbor photo ↑
Not so long ago
few people had a telephone aboard their vessels. Thus, the radio
became the best way to communicate with your neighbors. It was and
is the Party Line of boat chat. Folks listen, even those who swear
they never do.
Having a second VHF radio is more common for those on larger power
boats with two helm stations. It is also convenient for those who
have an upper helm and a lower galley. The VHF becomes the go-to for
communicating needs of the person topside.
Aboard Manatee, a second radio is
mounted on a bulkhead in the galley.
I told you about that vessel in the article
The idea for a VHF in the
forward cabin is not my own. I was speaking with a nice lady who stated her
boat had a second radio next to the bunk. That seemed like a wonderful idea to me. When someone radioed Seaweed, I could
reply without getting up. Decadence could be had for the cost of an
inexpensive VHF radio!
Thus, I went shopping for a VHF.
New ones cost $100 and up. A used one, not at all fancy, was just
I bought this radio from a nice couple on S/V Gorilla. That sailboat
belongs to Captains Tom and Sibile.
In my forward cabin I have
just the one bulkhead at the head of my bunk. I did not want to
attach the radio to the hull-side. That left me with a single
vertical wall. To resolve that I got out a pair of small hinges
and a piece of scrap wood just 1/4" thick. None of this is fancy and all came
from ship stores.
↑ ON LEFT (right side hinge
is hidden behind the radio) supports the wood shelf. Tied to an
eye-screw (upper right corner of photo) is a LINE.
It traces down through the wood, across the width of the radio, and then up.
That line is secured to a
BOLT on the VHF.
Of course this VHF radio
shelf system is not fancy. The wood is unfinished. Really the
whole thing cannot be considered nautical by the real Yachtsmen
around me. The wooden shelf, 1/8" braided line support, and hinges
were all items found in lockers aboard Seaweed. That eye-screw is
inserted in the base of my DVD rack.
DVDs are stored in a nifty shelving
system designed and made by my friend Tom McArthur who has a Bristol24.
I do so love having my DVDs organized on shelves in my cabin. I keep
them in alphabetical order.
My second VHF is right above my
pillow. I listen to the
weather each morning on Wx Channel 9 before I get up.
One thing that is
odd is that the numbers for the Wx station differs between this one
and my main VHF radio. Both broadcasts are identical. It's just that
the numbers don't match. This phenomenon (differing Wx channels) may
also be a result of my rather obsolete radio being so old that it's
receiving part is a bit wonky.
I mention this oddity because I suspect others have had the same
situation in other locales. For me this is not a problem. The
weather is what concerns me, not what channel it is broadcast on.
Plus, the rest of the normal channels are fine. I'm in the "It's not
broken/why fix it?" mode when it comes to this second VHF radio.
before I get out of my bunk I turn on the Wx channel and listen. It
gives me an idea of what to expect for weather during the day, along
with a longer term forecast of what is to come. I find that useful.
Knowing if it is going to rain
makes a difference in my day to day life. Rain equals a wonderful
day to curl up in my bunk and read. Sunshine means I'll have plenty
of power and can get ambitious, or snuggle Skipper and enjoy my
In either event,
life aboard Seaweed is fabulous. I am truly blessed!
To you and yours, enjoy autumn. I
know I'm looking forward to the holiday season. Happy Halloween!
Pam in Minnesota decorated for Halloween. Very
As for me, here is my Happy
Such is life aboard Seaweed. It is
late and I've had a long day.
Free Advice: the next time you see a
$5 VHF radio, consider purchasing same. It's always good to have a
spare radio. Install yours some place away from the helm. Perhaps
you'll want one near your bunk, or by your navigation table, desk or
galley. In any event, a secondary radio is always a good thing.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate that.
I'd love to know if you have more than on permanently
mounted VHF radio.
And, where do you have your radios installed?
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