Agree but I keep one charged in my ditch bag next to my EPIRB. I will use it if I'm in the water or floating in my liferaft while clutching my EPIRB. I figure the EPIRB will get the rescuers close, then I can talk to them on the handheld.Please bear in mind that 1, they only reliably work for a short disatance( like 1/4 mile RELIABLY) and 2, they only work when charged.
A handheld as a primary communications device is not a good idea, its better than nothing, not dont expect to be able to call for help at the first island.
(as a referance, I can talk to our dipatchers in berkley with a Standard Horizon and a 8ft 8db antenna from sandbridge- close to 30 miles)
Antenna height and gain are probably the most important factors in determining range. HOWEVER handheld VHF units typically transmit at 5 or 6 watts whereas console VHF units typically put out 25 watts.Keep in mind that VHF radio performance is a function of antenna height. We've got desktop VHF's but we've also got a pigtail to connect the handheld to the 8' VHF antennas. Both radios have the same output capability.