There are plenty of things we take for granted on our raceboats, and one of them is certainly the handheld VHF. You know…the one you need in times of distress, the one you use to check in with your race committee, the one you rely on when someone’s OCS, the one you use to call the launch because the beer cooler is depleted. That’s the same VHF that gets tossed around the boat with the same care of a crushed 12-ounce can.
Yes, your trusty handheld VHF demands more respect because it is one of the most important pieces of equipment on your boat. And maybe, just maybe, you might respect it more if was like the Cobra Marine H600. This pint-sized comms device is packed with features that take it well beyond your trusty old-school handheld.Where do we start? How about the built-in GPS receiver and Digital Select Calling. Should you find yourself in distress or in need of finding, your coordinates displayed and sent automatically when making DSC calls. When paired with your phone, Bluetooth connectivity allows you take and make phone calls between races, so there’s no need to dig your phone out of the drybag for nav station desk. The noise-canceling microphone cuts back wind noise and background chatter, and a few recent tests (calling home to check on the kids) confirmed outstanding clarity on both ends (plus…it’s fun to annoy with the teenagers by finishing each sentence with “over.”)
And, if you didn’t catch that last broadcast from the race committee after the start, you simply say, “Say Again,” and it replays the last 20 seconds of the previous VHF call. Yep…that’s our bow number. Talk about a race saver. And on the topic of saving, it has an easy-access distress button on the side, a dedicated man-overboard key, and a flashlight/S.O.S. light.
The HH600 is submersible, and thankfully, colored bright orange so you can back and find it (the light also flashes if it’s dropped in the water), and at only about 5 inches tall, 3 inches wide and 12 ounces, it’s small enough to tuck inside a PFD or sheet bag.
Paging through its menu to set up your unique Maritime Mobile Service Identity number (for DSC calling) is easy, as is setting up the Bluetooth and other functions.
All in all, for $209, this is one of the most feature-packed handheld VHFs we’ve ever used, which some might say is the best bang-for-your-buck, but it’s more than that. It’s the one VHF you’ll come to appreciate after you win the race, hail the race committee to thank them, and then call home to share the news, without ever having to touch your phone.