Having a VHF radio isn’t enough you need the best marine VHF antenna to maintain clear communication over a long distance
.Having a radio on your boat is not a nicety, it's a necessity! Whether in the sea or inland waterways, you use your radio to contact other vessels, land based authorities such as harbormasters and in emergency situations, rescue departments.
In this guide we bring you the best marine VHF antennas that will compliment your radio and serve your needs on the water.
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This unit has a great reputation and used by coastguards as well as search and rescue operators. The whip can be replaced if it gets damaged and the coil is guaranteed for life.
It’s design makes the unit very easy to install and the galvanized bracket stands up well to the harsh elements of the ocean. The plastic on the unit is UV treated and so wont yellow or crack in the sun.
There are multiple mounts that can be bought for mounting on a bow rail or flat surface.
The Shakespeare 6225-R features a stainless steel ferrule which not only houses the components in place, but acts as a mounting sleeve.
The length of the antenna is good as it adds extra miles to the range of the radio, but has the disadvantage of being vulnerable to breaking in high winds. The unit does have a fibreglass radome which gives it extra strength.
The unit boats a 6 DB gain which is very powerful and aids in wider communication. It has a 20 ft cable that allows a variety of places for out of the way installation.
This antenna is unique on the list as it’s the only one that can be easily removed. The cable is connected to the base of the mount, the antenna can then be screwed into place when needed.
This is a great option for protecting the antenna when not in use. The antenna is tough hard wearing and long lasting.
This unit is taller than other VHF antennas and provides a longer range. The 6 DB signal gain provides a crisp clear quality.
This model has been strengthened to cope better in high winds and contains a Stainless steel ferrule for extra stability.
The 6.1m (20ft) cable allows you to mount the antenna in the most optimal position without needing to move or adjust any of your other equipment.
This unit has a whip antenna, making it suitable for high winds. It can be mounted on masts without fear of it breaking when the winds get up. Its compact size also makes it perfect for the smaller types of vessels.
The Antenna has a stainless steel ferrule which adds to its strength and features a brass bass where the cable can be threaded..
If you buy a VHF radio and install it, there is a chance it will work without an antenna, at least for extremely short distances, like in the harbour and that is a BIG CHANCE.
Your Radio needs an antenna to boost its send and receive signal. Without an antenna, your VHF radio is basically useless.
VHF radios work by line of sight. This means that they need to see one another. The antenna acts like a giant radio eye. The higher it is off the deck of a boat the further it can see. Remember the earth is not flat. As the distance between vessels grow, the line of sight between the vessels becomes impaired.
You are not going to get an antenna that will allow you to broadcast your VHF signal around the world. You need to consider where you are going to mount your antenna, what distance you will need to use it over, and what conditions you are likely to be in.
If you have a motorboat for instance then the areas you have to mount your antenna are plentiful, but mounting your antenna up high may be a bit of a challenge as most motor boats don't have masts. Getting a tall antenna in this case makes sense.
On a fishing boat, or yacht where the option to mount your antenna higher is easier, choosing a shorter antenna is a better idea. The higher an antenna is mounted the more exposed it is to high winds which could cause damage.
Generally speaking the bigger the vessel the greater the signal gain should be. The higher the gain the more focused the signal.
In rough seas if the boat is rocking a lot the signal can become distorted in higher gain antennas. This is why high gain antennas on small boats is not advised. The more stable the platform the larger the gain can be.
A rough gauge. 24 ft vessels and below should go with a 3 DB gain. 24 to 40 should go with a 6 DB.
Hey, I'm Brad - the founder and editor of Watercraft Watch. My love for boating is what prompted me to start WatercraftWatch.com – helping people find the right equipment and supplies so they can enjoy their time on the water. I hope you find the articles on the site useful, and share in my love for boating.