Saturday, October 30, 2010
Cruising Gadget: VHF/DSC/GPS
I recently got one of these for the San Juan 24. This is a Standard Horizon HX850s VHF with GPS and DSC. It won Practical Sailor's Editor Choice and Best Choice in September 2009, along with the 2009 Pittman Innovation Award from Sail Magazine.
The key to this radio is the combination of a GPS and digital selective calling (DSC). This makes it a viable alternative to an EPIRB for inshore and near shore work. It turns out that EPIRB distress signals must filter through international and national processing centers before help may be dispatched. The DSC distress call will reach all boats and stations withing VHF distance that have DSC functionality. The radio is also perfect in case you need to abandon ship. You would be able to talk with rescuers and re transmit your updated position. Additionally, the radio floats and glows in the dark.
The GPS is not really suitable for navigation because of the small screen and limited information displayed. It would serve as a backup in a pinch. It comes in rechargeable and disposable battery configurations.
There is more information over at Panbo.