IC-M88 Kayak to Kayak communication?

In the literature for the Icom-M88 it says there are 22 programmable channels for land use. Could my wife and I use one of these land channels as a walkie talkie type communication between ourselves when we are paddling our kayaks, or would this be against the law? Haven’t bought a VHF yet and don’t know much about them. Anyone have an M88? How do you like it?


No to the question
and no need. You can use one of the marine channels specifically set aside for noncommercial inter vessel communications to chat with wife while paddling. The M88 can be programmed to operate on 22 land mobile channels set aside for commercial use. Your proposed use would not be legal in a strict sense and you would have to have the programming done by a commercial radio shop. They might not do it for you as it could, technically, put at risk their license. Its a nice radio and small, but you are paying a premium for capabilities you ware unlikely to use as in the 22 channels for land mobile use.

One caution

– Last Updated: Oct-28-08 7:43 AM EST –

As above, the usual habit is to use one of the non-reserved marine channels for communication on the water. Those are the channels going into the low 70's. I tend to forget the exact range without looking it up, but odds are it'll mention this in your manual.

One caution - some of the channels normally listed as being open have a designated use locally. For example, when we were training off RI it turned out that a channel which would normally be considered available was used by local emergency crews. So it's worth getting some local knowledge if you can before determining what channel you'll be using. Also, if you select a channel and find that you are hearing an awful lot of chatter between working fishermen about things like picking up bait and other business type communications, you may want to find a different channel where you aren't in their way.

BTW, if you haven't gotten a VHF yet it's worth spending the extra bit for submersibles of a higher caliber so that you can actually tell what the other person said, and of a size that'll clip securely onto your PFD. I'm just mentioning this in case you get to the store and hit sticker shock. I think the ICOM-88 is in that category, but others with one in front of them can comment.

The ICOM M88 radio is a

– Last Updated: Oct-28-08 11:17 AM EST –

good choice for a sea kayaker, but per Ed's comments about the unit's optional land channels, there are better ones out there.

I used the M88 unbagged and mounted to my pfd for over 4 years. As long as one provides some important, but basic PM to the unit they work very well in an exposed marine environment. I recently sold my M88 (it was long out of warranty, but still worked just fine). I replaced it with ICOM's newer M72, which is a bit less expensive, has a nicer fit to my hand and higher water tightness rating. Yes, the M72 does have one additional watt of power, but I seem to remember that eel (Ed) has indicated that the extra watt is really meaningless.

doesn’t come with an option to use, “A”, size batteries. This seems like a big drawbback if you’re on a long weekend trip or such.

Would like to do a trip to Isle Royale in Lake Superior next spring. It would be at least a week long trip. “A” batteries seem like an important option when the main battery charges out. M88 & M34 can use "A"s. Any body recommend on over the other? This sure is hard to figure which radio would fit all your needs?

Trouble with AA packs…

– Last Updated: Oct-28-08 3:04 PM EST –

... is while the radio is submersible, and rechargeable packs are too, the AA packs on models I've seen that offer them are not.

I keep mine in PFD pocket, roll with it, etc. AA wouldn't cut it. Probalby OK for flat water/non-roller who keep it stowed away in a dry bag somewhere.

The battery life on models like the M72 is fantastic. Buy an extra if you gab a lot. Some sort of mobile charger for those multi-week expeditions...

My favored battery life extension strategy: Leave it off.

Don't need it on most of the time (many paddles, not at all beside a quick function check). Maybe nice through busy areas, maybe if you get separated. Otherwise - just unneeded noise. Keep in hailing distance, or clse enough to chat if that's what floats your boat. Keep the power in reserve and use it as a safety device to get help (most likely for someone else not even in your group). Battery can lasts many many months on a charge like this. My M72 was still almost full bars almost a year after purchase (until stolen), but I'm not a talker, and paddle alone mostly.

A little detail
I agree about the batteries lasting a very long time and you don’t need to have it on all the time or even on PFD for that matter as well as there are chargers which rely on sunlight. I find with judicious use, the typical LiION pack will last at least 4 days no problem and suspect much better By judicicious use I mean listening to weather a few times a day and monitor channels when in busy areas.

However, you need to look at the specs closely as some radios are rated submersible only with standard (not AA) battery pack attached while others are rated submersible even when no battery pack is attached. Potentially a big difference. It means that with the latter, even if you use a AA pack no harm to the radio if it leaks. With the former, if anything happens to seal between radio and battery pack of any type, the radio could become useless brick.

Thanks guys, think I’ll stay away from the, “A” batteries and buy an M72.

AA Packs not bad
AA packs can be useful and helpful as backup. Not a black and white issue.

Suggested PM
I should have documented the preventative maintenance I perform on my unbagged M72 (and the M88 prior to that) to keep it in working order

  1. Check the antenna for tightness prior to every use.
  2. FULLY rinse in freshwater after EVERY saltwater use. NO exceptions.
  3. Check the contacts between the radio and battery pack twice/year
  4. Clean said contacts if required and lube the small “0”-ring that protects the contacts with silicone grease.