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VHF for the helmsman

1 comment

What is the issue?
VHF systems are typically installed below decks and effectively out of earshot from the helm. Consequently, the helmsman who is required to act upon details relayed by VHF is out of audible range. This situation is exacerbated when an engine is running and a VHF call may be entirely masked. Solo sailors are particularly disadvantaged being forced to dash back and forth from the tiller should they be without a handheld, or out the VHF communication is outside the handheld's communicating range, and need to use the ship’s VHF radio.

Why address this?
This is an unnecessarily awkward arrangement and it could also cause a difficult situation in tight waterways or an important message is not able to be heard.

How to address this?
A very sensible solution is to implement a VHF system with an external speaker close to the helm as illustrated in the above header image. Add a handpiece that has an extended coiled cord length, that permits it to reach out into the cockpit, is also advantageous as with both in place everything can be handled from above decks.

Alternatively, an occasional waterproof speaker in a box that can be attached via a jack plug and dropped in underneath the spray dodger as needed, would be helpful. Whichever set-up is selected make certain to position the loudspeaker as far from the compass, or compass based tiller pilot, as possible so that the speaker magnets do not affect the instruments.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.
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Paul Rutherford wrote this review on Mar 3rd 2022:
Another way is to have aboard a fully charged handheld VHF which can be used anywhere on deck as required. We have this attached to a lanyard so it can be attached close to the helm for example or with a loop formed to hang around ones neck (being careful not to get entangled with anything of course). This also gives redundancy should the fixed VHF fail, the mast come down taking the aerial with it, and can be hitched to a lifejacket when venturing out in the tender for emergency use or simply to communicate with crew on the mother ship. Also a good idea to stow it close to the emergency grab bag.

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