For anglers, finding the best VHF antenna can signify the difference between enduring a skunk or finding a great bite. But seriously speaking, having the right kind of VHF type of antenna can save you from being stranded or could save you from a seeming serious accident.
Even the world’s best and premier marine radios are not likely to deliver their optimum performance if you have them connected to the wrong kind of antenna. These antennas are comparable to how the tires of a sports car work, where it serves as the vehicle’s only point of contact to the ground, giving it enough grip and traction when it is already racing around in a track.
In the case of a radio, the only point of contact that it has got with the outside world is through its antenna. Should the race car tires are inferior in quality, then there is no way you can expect it to perform well and deliver its very best. Similarly, any radio will require a well-matched load or an antenna that will help it facilitate the efficient transformation of electrical energy into radio waves.
Of paramount importance also about marine VHF antennas is that they need to be well designed in such a way that it will allow the radiated waves to travel in a particular desired direction.
Needless to say, there is no use in pointing your radio was up into space if the contacts you have are around sea-level only. A shoddy, inferior quality antenna will never be capable of delivering the required good match. It may even render you to question your installation work and put you in doubt whether your radio equipment is indeed in tiptop working shape or not.
Hence, we encourage you to use only a high-quality antenna created by no less than a reputable manufacturer. Below are some points you may need to take into account before purchasing an antenna.
The higher you have your antenna above the water, the greater distance that it will be able to achieve. VHF radio waves tend to travel in straight lines. As far as communications range is concerned, oftentimes it will be pertained to as the “line of sight”. Simply put, it is of paramount importance that your antenna can “see” the antenna at the other end. Expressing this more succinctly, there has to be unencumbered access between these antennas.
Communicating by virtue of VHF is limited to around 35-50 miles, and this will highly depend upon the height of the antenna. Sails are considered to be in a more advantageous disposition here since you can mount the antenna right at the top of the mast and therefore allowing you to reach great distances.
The manner in which you will have your antenna attached to your vessel or boat will depend upon the inherent features of the boat itself. Three of the most utilized and most popular mounting methods are as follows:
This will come in a variety of sizes, and usually have ratchets that allow for easy lowering.
For sailboats (Mast Mounting)
If there is an available horizontal or vertical surface you can mount them to, you can take advantage of flange mount for this purpose. Most of the time you will make use of a ratchet mouth that will adjust to the mounting surface slope. It will also allow you to easily lower the antenna.
We have here what is considered as the general mounting guidelines:
- Mount the antenna as high as possible, this will allow you to take advantage of the line-of-sight.
- Install the antenna at a safe distance from metallic objects, especially large-sized ones.
- Don’t install your antenna in close proximity to another
- Install your antenna a minimum of 3 feet away from marine radio.