Chuck Husick on boatus.com. Darn it, the basic marine radio I bought I think I left on the boat while docked and it seems to have walked away. A good chance to get a pair that are good. Thank goodness for basic guides on the Internet.
* Things you want are Receiver sensitivity. Most provide 0.25 microvolt sensitivity.
* Selectivity. You need 80 dB for Intermodulation selectivity and 70 dB for adjacent channel selectivity and spurious response relationship.
For "Handheld":http://www.boatus.com/husick/c_hheld.asp radios, you need a few more:
* Waterproofness and it should float too. In case you drop it "-)
* Standard batteries or rechargeables. You need standard alkalines for emergencies. The ideal is to have something that holds NiMH AA batteries and can also hold alkalines.
Then there are some new devices like Garmin "RINO":http://www.boatus.com/husick/techno03_03.asp that combines a GPS with a FRS/GMRS radio. So you can share position with a standard family radio service. Kind of cool.
National Marine Electronics Associations Product Awards. Since there aren't great reviews of marine electronics, this award list from the trade association is a good surrogate for good handheld radios:
* icom ic-m88 in 2003. This is $289 with$30 rebate now from "sailnet.com":http://www.sailnet.com/store/departments.cfm?id=781 or "Boat-us.com":http://ww2.boatus-store.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?seq=0&sortBy=prc&sortOrder=asc&catalogId=20002&storeId=20002&categoryId=542&langId=-1&subdeptNum=64&storeNum=3. This is a tiny li-ion battery unit. 70dB in selectivity statistics. Main drawback is the back-up alkaline battery mode only has 1 watt output.
* Standard Horizon HX460S in 2002. This is also a Li-ion miniture unit. $249. * Standard Horizon HX350S in 2001.$189. This is a ni-cad unit, but you can put standard AA batteries in that are rechargeables for very long battery life (the ni-cad is 1100 Mah, but you can put in 6x1700Mah AA's in to get really long life). This is the one I originally bought and worked fine, although it was big.