Where to keep my VHF

I have an ICOM-M34 marine radio that I have been keeping below deck. It is rated as waterproof/submersible and it floats. I’ve been thinking that I should start clipping it to my PFD for easier access in case of an emergency and in case I somehow get separated from the kayak. But if I do this then I will really have to trust the waterproof/submersible rating because if I swim…so will it. That leads me to my question: Should I trust the rating and keep it above deck for easier access? Where do you keep yours?

Attached to my shoulder strap
My is the West Marine Model with a no hassel return policy. I’ve return some or had them replace a couple items over the years, but the radio seems to be holding up better than the two previous brands I had.

Where to keep VHF
To put it simply: If you don’t have it on you, you don’t have it.

We have had waterproof VHF’s for 6 years, never had any problems. Vertex Standard from Japan.


PFD Pocket
However… Last summer I was doing some rolling in the surf and I was really concerned about getting poked in the eye with the antenna. I put it in the day hatch for a while.

When I am by myself
I keep it tethered to the deck and under a bungee.

When I am with “the bride” I keep it in my front compartment.

Most of the hard core guys I paddle with keep it on their PFD. - I am not hard core!



Keep mine
In my PFD Pocket.

If you arent sure about
everything being waterprof (and this includes the batteries) put the radio in a dry bag and carabiner the dry bag to you.

Its not nearly as unwieldly as the last sentence suggests.


second that
A radio in the bow or stern compartment is nearly useless. If you have an emergency on the water, opening your boat’s main flotation compartments is one of the last things you want to do.

I wear mine in my PFD pocket.

Definitely on the shoulder
In difficult conditions, you need your radio immediately at hand and you need to be able to access and operate it with ONE hand. Shoulder mounting is ideal for that.

I keep mine in and tethered to my underdeck bag.

Tethered To the PFD…

– Last Updated: Mar-01-10 9:37 AM EST –

...and tucked into a pocket works well for us. The only possible drawback is that it may be in the way when you're re-entering a boat...

Re the waterproofness - we check ours periodically by deliberately submerging it, wearing it while practicing rescues, swimming, etc. If it's gonna leak, I don't want to find out when it refuses to work in a "come-and-get-us" situation.

manufacterer recommendation
My Icom radio (and my olympus camera) recommend soaking them in a bucket of fresh water for about 10 minutes after using on the ocean. Apparently salt is more of a concern than water. But it’s also a good way to find out about leaks when the stakes are low.

I just fill up the sink, and toss the radio and camera in there while I’m rinsing my gear off and putting things away.


– Last Updated: Mar-01-10 2:33 PM EST –

I have an M-34 and keep it in various locations, depending on conditions.

If there is a VERY slight chance of needing it, it is in my day hatch (or behind my seat in my boat without a day hatch).

If more than pond flat water, then it would be on deck or strapped to my PFD buckle right in front of me. Either case, it is leashed (to deck bungee or to my PFD). It may float, but that doesn't mean I could find it should it get loose (it floats very low, and is dark color).

If I am using the VHF to talk or listen or in a risky condition, it is on my PFD buckle.

The lower buckle allows me to have the antenna come up just below my chin, so it isn't picking my nose. In the central San Francisco Bay, I am often monitoring Vessel Traffic Control to keep track of big ships, and I find I can hear it better when it is there over when it is on my deck.

I have had corrosion issues with the unit. The basic unit is waterproof, but the charging tabs at the bottom can sometime corrode off. Icom has been good at replacing while under warranty, and thankfully the warranty is 3 years. Make sure you have your receipt!

get a PFD
with a dedicated “electronics” pocket. For example, the Kokatat MsFit (http://media.rei.com/media/a/1131199.jpg). That way the VHF goes where you go and is there when you need it most.

You spent the money for a good
radio. Trust it, test it, use it. When the _ _ _ _

hits the fan, you want quick access. I keep my Icom 72 tethered to the inside of a pocket on my PFD, and my Ipod in the other. This way I can listen to Jimmy Hendrix while I’m waiting for the Coast Guard to save my sorry ass. Just kidding! Qick all time access is a good idea though.

I used to keep mine tethered inside my PFD pocket, but when in a large group found it awkward to have to unzip pocket to use then replace in pocket. Now I keep it on the shoulder of my PFD, with backup tether. Can operate with one hand, can hear better, and don’t have to worry about poking myself in the eye when rolling.

how’s radio attached to your PFD shoulde
Did your radio come with some kind of fabric holster to attach to your PFD? Or what? I once saw someone else with her radio on shoulder strap, but I can’t remember how it was attached. Please let us know how you did it.

Many thanks.

G in NC

swivel belt clip

– Last Updated: Mar-01-10 7:52 PM EST –

Some radios come with swivel belt clips, and for others you can buy it as an accessory.


Attach the belt clip part to your PFD with wire ties or something, and have a bungie or strap that holds the bottom of the radio in place on your chest. (You have to keep the radio from flipping antenna-side-down or it will release.)

I waiting for bnystrom to chip in here

– Last Updated: Mar-01-10 8:37 PM EST –

Brian has web photos showing how to mount an ICOM M88 to your pfd shoulder strap using the provided ICOM belt clip.
Be aware that the belt chip that comes with the M88 (item MB-86) is superior to the clips included with the ICOM M34 and M72 radios. The MB-86 clip provides an extra margin of safety when you mount your VHF radio to the clip. You must actually swing the radio upside down to get it to release from the clip. Accidental release is difficult, but certainly not impossible, so my radio is also tethered. I also use a bungie cord to hold my radio upright and prevent it from singing upside down.

Note that the ICOM MB-86 can be purchased separately for use with either the M34 or M72. In fact I am currently using the MB-86 clip from my old M88 radio to hold my new M72.

I believe the following link will take you to Brian's M88 mounting pictures. Same approach will work with any of the ICOM handheld VHF radios as long as you use the MB-86 clip.


Don’t just clip it to your pfd shoulder strap. :slight_smile: I’ve done it once. There is a nice radio on the bottom of the ocean below the bridge of Cousins Island. :wink:

Looks like Brian has it figured out with the wire tie and bungie (or a rubber band).