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Use Your Push Pole to Increase VHF Range

This tip will be helpful to small boat operators who need to increase VHF radio transmission range for operation in remote areas or during an emergency.

Many small skiffs, particularly flats boats, equipped with a VHF radio, do not have their antenna mounted very high. Since VHF is line of sight, the higher your antenna, the longer your range. In an emergency you’d want the longest range possible and the ability to transmit over any nearby obstructions, such as trees, that might be between your boat and any receiving stations.

Almost all flats boats have a long push pole aboard and on other small boats anything at hand could be useful to elevate your antenna. If you have an antenna that is not hard mounted, you can use a tie-wrap, etc. to secure the antenna to the end of the pole. Raising a push pole vertically should increase your transmission height to over 20 feet. If you don’t have a push pole use whatever you have to increase your antenna height. In a pinch even stout fishing rod will work. To prepare for this situation you’ll need to make sure you have a sufficient length of antenna cable installed between the radio and antenna, 25- to 30-feet is enough to make the rig work.

If you use your radio only for rescue/emergency and not normal communications, you can store the radio and the antenna in a locker and only bring them out when needed.

I store my radio in a waterproof box and have alligator clips on my power cables. I attach the clips directly to the battery for power. In an emergency a cell phone cannot be counted on to make a connection or communicate with rescue teams.