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Old 07-25-2021, 08:21 AM   #1
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VHF Power

I know there are many radio experts here, so can someone explain the reasoning behind 1W/25W transmit options? I get the fact that you don't want to be transmitting 25W to talk to someone nearby, but why 1W? I think something like 5W/25W makes more sense. I rarely use 1W because I often don't get an answer even when fairly close to a marina I am hailing. Maybe doesn't even break through their squelch level. My handheld has 1/5/6W options that make sense to me, but I don't get the 1W option on my main VHF.
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Old 07-25-2021, 10:11 AM   #2
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If i use 25 W when calling for a bridge opening, my 55’ high antenna will cause every bridge-tenders radio to unsquelch for a couple dozen mile radius.
So, this is the rationale for the FCC legal requirement for “no more than 1Watt on low power” position.
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Old 07-25-2021, 10:39 AM   #3
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If i use 25 W when calling for a bridge opening, my 55’ high antenna will cause every bridge-tenders radio to unsquelch for a couple dozen mile radius.
So, this is the rationale for the FCC legal requirement for “no more than 1Watt on low power” position.
Thanks, I didn't realize it was a FCC requirement, but I knew there must be a reason. Most of us don't have 55' antennas so the 1W option is not very useful at times and I'm forced to use 25W when I'd prefer not to. Too bad they can't have a 1/5/25 selection or something like that.
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Old 07-25-2021, 10:43 AM   #4
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I find the usefulness of 1W varies. If there's a good bit of tall stuff around, not a clear line of sight, or the other station is a handheld, 1W range tends to be pretty poor (sometimes only a 1/4 mile). But other times, even with my antennas only being just under 17' off the water, 1W is good for a couple of miles.

In the NY Canals, the locktenders pretty much all use handheld VHFs. And they use channel 13, so low power only. In some places, I can talk to them from a mile away with no problem. In other places, the geography of the surrounding land, sources of potential interference or signal blockage, etc. are such that I'm practically within shouting distance before I can get a response.
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Old 07-25-2021, 10:43 AM   #5
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1W on VHF will carry up to 5 miles with any decent antenna. It’s supposed to be line-of-sight comms only. 25W is for everything else.
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Old 07-25-2021, 11:20 AM   #6
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If you are calling bridges, locks and commercial traffic that are clearly in sight with 1 watt and having trouble...it's your radio or antenna/connections.


Marinas are a different story...there are many reasons they are not answering you.
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Old 07-25-2021, 11:42 AM   #7
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Marinas answer their telephones. Try calling them on that.
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:07 PM   #8
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Marinas answer their telephones. Try calling them on that.
It's much easier to deal with marinas on VHF especially if they are working the docks with a handheld and giving you directions. A cell phone wouldn't work for that. I'm trying to make a point that I would prefer to use 1W when appropriate, but if it not reliable, then there is no point. Even handhelds transmit at 5W or more, albeit with a much smaller antenna, but if trying to hail a marina for instance on ch9 or 16 when you are entering a harbor but not yet close to the docks, I find 1W to be less than 100% useful and 25W to be overkill, hence my original question. If it's an FCC regulation, I get it. I'm going by what I have experienced so no need to debate what is the "right" thing to do.
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:32 PM   #9
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VHF Power

If it makes the argument better for you: Your HH radio antenna has a gain factor of MINUS 10 dB or so. That mAkes the 5 W transmitter have as much authority as a 0.5 W radio with just a simple dipole antenna.
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:39 PM   #10
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I have been dealing with marinas on the phone for many years and many miles.


The important thing is you get most of the important info there if you can.


If they insist on calling them when you get close...most have someone that will assist you on a handheld so don't bother till you are in the hole stretch and even then, have the phone number ready to say you have tried on the radio with "no joy".



It really isn't a bug deal unless you are coming in under duress.
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:47 PM   #11
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I agree that if you need info about a marina, a phone works great as does the internet or a recent cruising guide. I'm talking about approaching a marina where you are getting specific guidance to your slip assignment. I was recently at a large marina in Montauk, NY where there were several boats arriving simultaneously and all being coordinated by the dockmaster. That can't happen easily by phone.
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:51 PM   #12
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If it makes the argument better for you: Your HH radio antenna has a gain factor of MINUS 10 dB or so. That mAkes the 5 W transmitter have as much authority as a 0.5 W radio with just a simple dipole antenna.
By the same token, doesn't the HH antenna affect reception strength? What does it do to my 1W transmission from my boat?
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:57 PM   #13
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I agree that if you need info about a marina, a phone works great as does the internet or a recent cruising guide. I'm talking about approaching a marina where you are getting specific guidance to your slip assignment. I was recently at a large marina in Montauk, NY where there were several boats arriving simultaneously and all being coordinated by the dockmaster. That can't happen easily by phone.



For me I am happy to get a slip assignment by phone. Sometimes they have a marina map online, if not I get a quick description of where the dock/slip is. As far as I am concerned that's all I need if they will let me dock by myself.


But even then it's not easy on the radio if you have several captains at the same time getting help...and the point is you are close enough for 1W to work or your radio/systems are inadequate.
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Old 07-25-2021, 02:12 PM   #14
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For me I am happy to get a slip assignment by phone. Sometimes they have a marina map online, if not I get a quick description of where the dock/slip is. As far as I am concerned that's all I need if they will let me dock by myself.


But even then it's not easy on the radio if you have several captains at the same time getting help...and the point is you are close enough for 1W to work or your radio/systems are inadequate.
It may be different where you are, but many marinas I go to when cruising, don't assign a physical slip until you arrive, and even then it may change on the fly. It happened to me last week. VHF is more convenient than having to make multiple phone calls. And in order for VHF to work properly at any power requires both a transmitting and receiving radio to be working and setup adequately.
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Old 07-25-2021, 02:21 PM   #15
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OK fine...but if your VHF isn't working on 1W when a mile or two from the marina....I suggest you get a pro to check it out.


It is not that 1W is the trouble, it's something else.
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Old 07-25-2021, 04:08 PM   #16
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OK fine...but if your VHF isn't working on 1W when a mile or two from the marina....I suggest you get a pro to check it out.


It is not that 1W is the trouble, it's something else.
I never said it wasn't working and it's easy enough to check with other boats. I only said that I don't always get a reliable response. Maybe the 16 y.o. on the dock has his squelch turned way up. No need for hostility, the main reason for my question was why 1W or 25W and not something in between like 5W and I got that answer as being an FCC regulation so that answers what I was really wanting to know. I don't need instructions on how to contact a marina.
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Old 07-25-2021, 04:55 PM   #17
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Because 1 want should be all you need.
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Old 07-25-2021, 06:09 PM   #18
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There are a lot of reasons for an unreliable response from a marina. 1W is a possible cause but not normal. We could make a long list…
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Old 07-25-2021, 09:35 PM   #19
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You get more replies to VHF hails if you have a young woman make the call.
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Old 07-26-2021, 12:45 AM   #20
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I'd say the reason you can't raise the marina is your choice of channels. I know that it is different in other areas but in south west coastal British Columbia marinas are on 66A and aren't allowed to use any other channels. Anyone calling a marina on 09 or 16 is not going to get any marina in these waters if the dock hand is following the rules.

There are exceptions for every rule. I don't know of any instances but I understand that some municipal (government) marinas in our local waters may be assigned a different channel. Your Sailing Directions book or Radio Aids to Marine Navigation book should give you the information.
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