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Date: 23 October 2019. VHF by my Bunk (spare radio)


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 just the 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.

Side Note: 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 when
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 boats.

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 circa 2001.

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 Manatee Moves.

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 $5.

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.

HINGE 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.

EVERY morning 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 tablet.

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 spiffy, eh?!?

As for me, here is my Happy Halloween troll:


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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2019, 2023

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