As a boater one of the most important safety items you can have aboard is a marine VHF radio. Whether to buy a new or used Marine VHF radio for sale depends on your budget. For boaters who want to have the safety of a VHF to use in emergencies a used Marine VHF walkie talkie or fixed unit may be a good idea. My very first marine radio was a used model that used tubes and weighed about twenty pounds. It was all that I could afford at the time and I believe that I paid about ten dollars for it. I’ve compiled this list of things to look for when buying any used marine VHF radios for sale. Here are some things to look out for.
Used VHF Marine Radio Walkie Talkies or Handheld Units
Though they do not have the range of more powerful fixed radios, handheld marine VHF radios offer portability and the ability to have radio communications aboard smaller boats, such as recreational fishing boats, without a large and bulky antenna and battery draining transceiver. Look for used handheld marine VHF radios that are submersible. By choosing the most waterproof radios you are more likely to find a used marine VHF handheld radio for sale that does not have some kind of water damage. Water damage is very common in older used marine VHF radios. Marine VHF walkie talkies are also notorious for bad NiCD batteries. Often you can pick up a used marine VHF walkie talkie for sale in a local pawn shop that has nothing more than a bat NiCD battery pack and missing a charger. You might pick up these used marine VHF radios for as low as $50, and just order a replacement battery and charger from the manufacturer. I’ve found that in larger coastal towns, pawn shops often have quite a few used VHF marine handheld radios for sale on any given day. Check sites such as eBay and Craigslist for used marine VHF walkie talkies for sale.
Used Marine VHF Radios, Fixed Units
Though you may not get all of the latest bells and whistles, such as Digital Select Calling or GPS connectivity, buying a used marine VHF radio for sale at a swap meet, Craigslist, eBay, etc, can be a good way to outfit your boat with a powerful safety feature. Besides, how often are features like DSC used in small fishing boats or weekend sailboats? Many fixed marine VHF units offer a full 25 watts of output power, plus rugged, water resistant housings. When buying a used marine VHF radio for sale, make sure you try and find one with the most water resistance possible. Many newer models are made to be used both in the cabin and also out in the cockpit. Older used marine VHF radios may have been designed much the same as a CB radio, for use inside a dry cabin. Raymarine and Uniden make very good waterproof fixed VHF marine radios and sometimes you can find these for sale used. Avoid any listings that describe an intermittent problem such as a faulty channel selector, microphone or volume knob. This can be an indication of more severe water damage inside the unit and possibly mean the radio is about to fail. You can have any used marine VHF radios for sale checked out by a local marine electronics technician and if found to be faulty most online sellers will accept a return. As with any marine safety gear, have your VHF radio checked out before leaving for offshore.
Unlike handheld marine VHF radios, fixed ones can be damaged by high SWR or standing wave ratio feedback from an improperly tuned antenna or bad coaxial cable. A used marine VHF radio for sale may look fine, power up, receive incoming broadcasts, buy may not transmit at all due to a blown final amplifier due to high SWR. Many boaters do not even know that they should check their VHF marine radios for SWR, and fail to do so. Over the life of a radio, this can cause sever damage. Have the power output of any used marine VHF radio you buy checked by a local radio shop, especially before venturing on a cruise, etc.
Are Reconditioned Marine VHF Radios Any Good?
Another good option to buying a used marine VHF radio for sale is to look at reconditioned ones. When any electronic devices are sent back for defects they are often checked out better than they were when they were manufactured. I’ve bought several reconditioned two way radios and had no problems whatsoever. Unlike used marine vhf radios, reconditioned ones usually carry the exact same warranty as new ones. This takes a bit of the gamble out of the buying process.
See listings of reconditioned marine VHF radios here; Reconditioned Marine VHF Radios on Amazon
I spent a few years living aboard and cruising on a Pearson Vanguard in the Caribbean. I’m an avid fisherman and kayaker and always carry a small marine VHF handheld aboard, even on inland lakes and rivers in case of emergency. You can read one of my sailing yarns here: Bahamas Fools Gold