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Old 12-05-2014, 02:04 PM   #1
quattroluvr
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marine radio, plus Oregon, Neah bay specifics

Inspired by Ana's epic Neah Bay story of yaks and storms, here is some marine radio and PLB (personal locator beacon) info, borrowed from her thread's responses on Bottomsounders forum, plus my research. I don't have a VHF radio for my yak (yet), though I've carried a GMRS radio and my cell phone in a waterproof cover. VHF radio might be an xmas present to self, since us Oregon spearos yak'ing out to exposed Oregon coast reefs are at risk of getting blown offshore by a sudden wind change.
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"For PLB I recommend this model:
http://www.fastfindplb.com/us/fast-find-220

For VHF I recommend this model (purchase the AA battery pack too)
Amazon.com: Standard Horizon HX280 5 - watt Submersible Handheld VHF Transceiver: GPS & Navigation Amazon.com: Standard Horizon HX280 5 - watt Submersible Handheld VHF Transceiver: GPS & Navigation

with the AA battery pack (for when the lithium dies and there is no replacement battery available)
Amazon.com: Standard Horizon Battery Tray f/HX280S: Automotive Amazon.com: Standard Horizon Battery Tray f/HX280S: Automotive

Although the HX280 is waterproof. Recommend this for added protection
Amazon.com : Aquapac Small VHF Classic Waterproof Case 228 : Boating Dry Bags : Sports & Outdoors Amazon.com : Aquapac Small VHF Classic Waterproof Case 228 : Boating Dry Bags : Sports & Outdoors
You certainly can use the VHF to communicate with shore support and is highly recommended. You just have to use a channel other than 16. If you use VHF you are taking advantage of the huge infrastructure that is available out a Neah Bay and our coastal areas (walkie talkie is going to be very limited compared to VHF).

Here are the channels to use

For Distress, Safety, Weather Alerts, (briefly calling other vessels then switch channels to talk)...................................16 (Monitor 16 constantly)

For calling to arrange talking on another channel, but you'll miss weather alerts and distress calls ..........................9 (not sure why one would monitor this channel if your main goal is safety)

Recreational, talking Use...........................68-69, 71-72, 78"

---------------------------------
"Regarding VHF Repeater stations [eg located on peaks in the Olympic peninsula], One of the most common misconceptions of what is being accomplished here is that the repeater’s transmit coverage (otherwise known as the user’s ability to hear the repeater) will be improved as well. In this design, that is not the case - this design only improves receive coverage - the user’s ability to access the repeater only. even though repeater users using hand-held radios can hear the repeater well in many locations, that does not necessarily mean that repeater users will be able to be heard loud and clear through the repeater at that location. Geographic and man-made terrain (hills, buildings, etc.) can block a hand-held radio’s signal far more easily than a mobile radio or base station’s signal due to RF power and antenna constraints, preventing the user from accessing the repeater reliably. This commonly results in a weak and scratchy signal heard by everyone else."

The closest land-oriented, VHF repeater relative to Neah Bay is the Ellis repeater located on a peak quite a few miles inland from Neah Bay to the southeast (40 miles at a guess). Color legend: For 5W handheld radios with small antennas... “Dark orange indicates solid to slightly marginal signal.Light orange indicates marginal to no signal at all.” as modeled in a software program (Thus, you might conclude that other colors apparently would imply no coverage...

....HOWEVER coast guard VHF radio station maps show potentially strong coverage out on the water that the Olympic peninsula land-oriented 'orange' repeater coverage maps don't show at all.) See Oregon coast map pic and Neah Bay coast coverage map I found from coast guard info.
1. For Neah Bay there is a Coast Guard repeater station located on the highest peak close by just west of Neah Bay village, (i.e. Bahokus Peak). The purple and light green areas are good coverage areas, (except if you're close to cliffs obviously, since VHF is pretty much line-of-sight)
2. For North Oregon coast (eg Tolovana waters) has really good coverage from several VHF repeater stations (except around Newport oddly, but the Newport coast guard station must have their own regular VHF radio obviously).

So my conclusion, for kayak safety is ignore the 'orange maps' and rely on the coast guard VHF coverage maps instead. and get a VHF radio and/or PLB.

Leigh


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Last edited by quattroluvr; 12-05-2014 at 03:17 PM.
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Old 12-05-2014, 03:00 PM   #2
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Re: marine radio, plus Oregon, Neah bay specifics

... and then i got to thinking about cell phone coverage. Is it worth taking a cell phone? or is it good enough? For North Oregon coast, coverage looks good, once you're out on the water you likely have coverage, especially if on Verizon. If you're trying to call 911 from the beach, you may or may not have coverage, such as the beach south of Cape Lookout forget about it.

For Neah Bay Verizon coverage, if you're close to the cliffs on Cape Flattery, nothing. Along the straits east of the village close to the cliffs and road on the beach, mostly very poor to nothing. However, if you are on the water a ways from shore (or above the road some amount of elevation somehow) you have a chance. Oddly, Waddah island shows no coverage but that doesn't make any sense it's so close to the village and its good signal.

If not on Verizon, I think coverage along coast is much spottier to nothing.

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Old 12-06-2014, 12:04 AM   #3
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Re: marine radio, plus Oregon, Neah bay specifics

I carry a Nautilus lifeline in my yak.

Dont know how it compares but you can dive with it.

Got it after an offshore scuba dive where I surfaced and couldn't find the boat.

$300 provides peace of mind
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Old 12-06-2014, 02:04 AM   #4
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Re: marine radio, plus Oregon, Neah bay specifics

Leigh, thank you for summing up the conclusions!
Marine radio is the thing I am going to buy along with the new fins
I don't think I am going with nautilus tho, sticking to something more powerful like 5+ watts
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Old 12-06-2014, 01:53 PM   #5
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Re: marine radio, plus Oregon, Neah bay specifics

more good info from the Bottomsounders thread:

"Here is another feature that you might want for a Marine Radio.

The DSC automatic distress call that include your GPS position with the push of a button. It requires that your radio is registered and has the DSC and GPS functionality (http://www.boatus.com/mmsi/info.htm)

This newer Horizon HX851 model has the DSC feature as well as a built in GPS receiver.
Amazon.com : Standard Horizon HX851 6W Floating Handheld VHF Radio with Glow in the Dark : Frs Gmrs Two Way Radios : Electronics Amazon.com : Standard Horizon HX851 6W Floating Handheld VHF Radio with Glow in the Dark : Frs Gmrs Two Way Radios : Electronics
"

AA battery tray can be ordered separately.

another wrote:
"I have the HX851 and have been really happy with it. Its extremely light,
floats, is waterproof, has a glow in the dark collar, and emergency LED.
They are coming out with a new model soon, so I have seen it on sale for as
low as $165. "
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Old 12-06-2014, 02:37 PM   #6
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Re: marine radio, plus Oregon, Neah bay specifics

The $30 - $40 (depending on where you purchase and add-on's) Baofeng/Pofung UV-5R (HAM radio) can be programmed for the Marine freq's. I'm not sure of the reg's of using them for the Marine freg's, but in an emergency, I'm not going to worry about it.
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