Seeking Advice on Communications

I paddle the Upper Delaware where there is no cell phone service. This limits my time on the river to a few hours because of my type of work.

Would anyone know of a portable two way radio system that would allow someone to contact me while on the river?


There may be 2-meter band repeaters that cover that area. If so, it’d be easy to carry a handheld radio. You’d have to get a license, but it’s just a simple multiple-choice test. Repeaters let you communicate beyond line-of-sight.


The most popular license for beginners is the Technician Class license, which requires only a 35 multiple-choice question written examination. The test is written with the beginner in mind. Morse Code is not required for this license. With a Technician Class license, you will have all ham radio privileges above 30 megahertz (MHz). These privileges include the very popular 2-meter band. Many Technician licensees enjoy using small (2 meter) hand-held radios to stay in touch with other hams in their area. Technicians may operate FM voice, digital packet (computers), television, single-sideband voice and several other interesting modes.

Sat phone

A good choice for those with …
… the interest. My dad used to be very active with ham radio, and years before most of us had a clue that there would be cell-phone service someday, 2-meter radio operators were making the equivelant of phone calls from their vehicles using repeater stations. Interestingly, even way back then, repeater coverage was a lot better than cell-phone coverage is even to this day, at least around my neck of the woods. I’ve heard that the licensing requirements are a lot easier these day than they used to be, as well.

Consider a Marine Band VHF

– Last Updated: Mar-06-06 12:38 PM EST –

The handheld prices have come way down over the past ten years. You would be able to communicate with another marine band radio, within range, and have the advantage of weather reports, hailing the Coast Guard, and placing a phone call through the marine operator. (and no licence is req'd)


Recall or need to Talk?
…If recall is the only requirement, check into a satellite based beeper…If you haave to be able to TALK to the other end, there are issues…Any available Marine Operators up there?

I find it hard to believe that ANYPLACE in Delaware is out of cell phone range??

Um, not the STATE of Delaware
but rather Suntan is from upstate Pennsylvania and paddles on the Delaware River. Beautiful country (I am very jealous!) up there but not overly populated (and thus part of its charm) so not as easy to get a cell phone to work up there while on the river.

Much of the upper Deleware is National Park. We use marine VHF for group com in the park. I believe the NPS listens.

I also find it hard to believe that there would be somewhere in Delaware without cell phone coverage. Perhaps try another carrier. I have seen Verizon have coverage where Cingular doesn’t and vice versa, so you may want to try switching carriers if you can get a trial period.

As for the other suggestions, satellite phone = big $; ham radio might be OK, if you wanted to study and take the license exam. But the thing with ham radio is that it can’t be used for business purposes, i.e., you can’t use it to call into work or have work call you. Handheld marine radios are fairly low power VHF and work OK over large open areas, but I’ll bet if there isn’t cell coverage where you are there may not be marine VHF coverage either.

Thank you all very much!
I used to make a living in electronics when vacuum tubes were the thing and the TV repairman would come to your house. It might be fun to get my feet wet with some modern ham radio again.

Sat phones aren’t as pricey
as they used to be.

Forget Iridium (phone is $1000+) in the U.S., check into GlobalStar.

Plans start around $40/month, phones around $300.

Cell coverage may cover 90% of the population, but less than 10% of the land mass.

Hamming it up - from SK

I thought the very idea
of paddling remote areas was to leave everything connecting you to civilization behind. So why would anyone think of taking anything that would allow anyone to contact you while you’re trying to become one with nature is beyond me. Emergencies? If you don’t know how to take care of yourself when the unexpected occurs while out in the wilderness then you shouldn’t be there. Then again, this is coming from a semi-retired canoe tour guide who has spent weeks in the wilds of Florida by his lonesome without any electronic means of communication amongst what some would consider fairly dangerous critters (water moccosins, gators, red, brown and black widows, brown recluses, scorpions, etc…). So I just have to ask: Why would anyone want to bring anything like that along?

the only way I can get away from the office is if I’m partially available for consultation, hence, the necessity of the 'lectronic gizmos. The cell phone is not a luxury choice, it’s an evil job requirement. The times I’m required to be reachable, I must carefully select the path and destination so that I’m in cellular range. Otherwise, there just ain’t room for it in the dry bag!!!