M34 VHF Radio by iCom: The Radio Aquatic

This waterproof, floating handheld radio will pay for itself the first time it goes in the drink. "Gear Up" from our November 21, 2007, /SW eNewsletter/

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Icom

It was the first test sail of SW's annual Boat of the Year program and I was all kitted out, ready to perform my annual duties as BOTY director. Handheld Garmin Geko GPS? Check. Microcasette recorder? Check. Notebook? Powered screwdriver? Camera? Pens? PFD? Multitool? Knife? Check, check, check, check, check, check, check. Also attached to my belt was my lifeline to our chaseboat and our photographer, Walter Cooper, an iCom M34 VHF radio.After recording the boat's agility, speed, and engine noise, it was time to sail, and being a semi-retired mastman/midbow guy, I dashed forward to demonstrate to all that I still had the chops to get things done on the foredeck. After I'd hooked up the headsail and its attendant sheets and halyard, I stayed by the pulpit to guide the headsail into the prefeeder and the headfoil. After the hoist, I straightened, and as I did, the VHF caught on the top lifeline and dropped straight into the drink. Someday I'll write about how crappy even the best VHF belt clips are, but since this story ends happily, I'll leave that for now."Uh guys? We've got to turn the boat around and go pick something up," I whimpered from the bow. "I've got an eye on it," I said, doing my best MOB spotter imitation; arm pointed in the direction where the M34 lay bobbing on the not-so-briny waters of the upper Chesapeake. Within two minutes I had my radio back, and iCom had a new crop of IC-M34 enthusiasts.I've been using the M34 since last January, and since then, I've only dropped it (unintentionally) into the water twice. But between those two instances, I've saved SW some $250, or the cost of 2 new handheld radios. In addition, the M34 has all the features you need on a handheld VHF: 5 Watts of output power, dual/tri-watch functions, 4-step battery life indicator, weather channels with weather alert, 2-step power saver, auto scan function, and instant access to channels 16 or 9. Included is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery pack that provides 9 hours of operating time. A wise option for those who spend time listening to race committees is the waterproof speaker-microphone, the HM-165, which uses a screw-type connector to the IC-M34 and allows the IC-M34 to float when connected.The M34 retails for $279, but canny Internet shoppers will be able to find better deals online. www.icomamerica.com