Sep 26, 2021


Categories: Radio

Marine Walkie Talkies – Radios For Water Based Communications

When looking for reliable communication solutions on or near the water, marine walkie talkies, or two way radios as they are officially referred to, are an essential bit of kit. Whether you use them for communicating with others during the monitoring or participation of water sports and group activities, working at sea, or navigating rivers or harbours, the peace of mind in knowing that you have reliable, practical, and emergency communications at your disposal is invaluable.

Buying Marine Walkie Talkies

There is a huge range of marine walkie talkies available that can aid communication when exploring inland waterways or on travelling in boats and pleasure craft offshore. It’s important therefore to consider key specifications that will ensure the model that you choose will stand up to the tough requirements that marine walkie talkies need to fulfill.

Essential specifications to consider for marine use walkie talkies 

  • Excellent grip and robust casing
  • Ease of use – walkie talkies should be easy to use under pressure with shortcuts and intuitive user interface
  • High water resistance, fully waterproof and buoyancy
  • Reliable of coverage
  • Extended battery life
  • Emergency functions, remote monitoring and distress signals
  • Voice Activated Transmission – hands free and push to talk
  • Built in GPS
  • Sizing, handheld or mounted
  • Headsets, microphones and cases available

Being able to pinpoint the key features that you need your marine walkie talkie to have, will depend on how and where you will need to use it. If you’re looking to buy your first marine walkie talkie or want to upgrade your current kit, then NRC radios can help you to hire or buy the right marine radio for your professional or leisure based need.

From handheld VHF’s (very high frequency), mounted VHF and lots of accessories, our friendly team can offer professional advice, options to hire or purchase market leading two way radio models at competitive prices.


Need advice about Marine use radios?

Ask our experts: Call 0151 263 9993 or send an enquiry.


What Do We Mean By Marine?

The word marine, essentially alludes to the presence of water. For the purpose of this article, we’ll be focusing on the requirements and features associated with two way radios that make them suitable for use in marine environments, such as rivers, lakes, and the sea.

Whether you’re working on ships, enjoy taking boats out for pleasure, a modern and reliable two way radio is a valuable communication tool that will ensure you always have access to the help and information you need to stay safe on and around the water.

VHF Radio

VHF radio













VHF or very high frequency radio is a two way communication system that works in the line of sight. This kit is essential for anyone on a boat as a way of communicating with other radio users on a ship-to-ship, inter-ship, or ship-to-shore basis.

There are dedicated channels available for specific communication types when on the water such as getting help, general chatter, contacting harbour masters and coast guards, performing tricky maneuvers, and issuing or answering SOS distress calls.

Marine radios are usually either handheld, like a traditional walkie talkie, or as a mounted radio that is permanently fixed to the boat.

  • Handheld radios have their own battery source and are small, light and compact enough to work as radios between crew and tenders.
  • The mounted option works well as the boats main radio as they have additional power which gives a boost to the range available.

Marine Channels

Safety is paramount when it comes to water. For this reason, there are dedicated radio channels which are used for specific purposes when using walkie talkies and radios on the water.

In the UK, there are around 57 public channels available. Many of these are for dedicated maritime safety purposes such as getting information on tides, currents, reefs, port conditions and weather alerts, as well as calling for help or communicating ship-to-ship with nearby vessels.

There are also dedicated channels for informal chatter unrelated to safety to ensure that critical information can be shared reliably when needed without the fear of interruption from informal comms.

Some common marine radio channels include;

  • Weather and navigation safety information – provided at regular intervals through the day
  • Marina channels – for matters related to docking, mooring, berthing and race control
  • Public correspondence – for calling the public telephone network
  • Inter-ship communications – for speaking to others on-board the same vessel
  • Search and rescue operations – to aid communications with HM coastguard, aircraft and ships involved in search and rescue operations

Marine Environments And What To Look For In A Radio

Female sailor on water













Rivers and seas can be some of the harshest and most unforgiving environments to operate in for people, let alone technology – especially when the weather turns.

With that in mind, it’s important that two way radios being used in a marine environment can withstand the elements and rigorous usage that they will likely need to stand up to. They will also need to be easy to use in often time sensitive or emergency situations, which is why a handheld two way radio with PTT (Push to Talk) is the go-to choice for those who need to get their message heard on the water.

When Purchasing Consider:

  • The environment the radio will be used in. Will it be humid? In direct sunlight? Open to salt water spray? Likely to be submerged in water from time to time?
  • What the radio is used for – just inter-ship comms or further afield? This will affect the range you need.
  • Accessories available – how and where the radios are used will determine if belts, holders or bags are needed to get the most from the radios

Features to look for when purchasing a marine walkie talkie:

  • Excellent grip and robust casing
  • Ease of use – walkie talkies should be easy to use under pressure with shortcuts and intuitive user interface
  • High water resistance, fully waterproof and buoyancy
  • Reliable of coverage
  • Extended battery life
  • Emergency functions, remote monitoring and distress signals
  • Voice Activated Transmission – hands free and push to talk
  • Built in GPS
  • Sizing, handheld or mounted
  • Headsets, microphones and cases available?

Battery Life

Lithium batteries provide the best battery life, and will be the best option for those using two way radios at sea. Consider how long you will be away from charging stations when choosing a marine walkie talkie to ensure that you have enough battery to last the duration of a typical time frame spent on the water. If you need more battery power, then consider taking spare batteries or recharging ports with you if power will be available.

Noise Cancelling Tech

If you are likely to be using your radio on a noisy boat such as a motor cruiser then features like active noise cancelling can help to remove background noise when transmitting messages, meaning you will be heard loud and clear when communicating with other radio users.

IP Ratings – Water And Dust Protection.

Walkie talkies are tested to be both dust-proof and submersible underwater to a certain depth. The result of this test is shown as an IP rating for each model. IP stands for ingress protection and gives users information on how well their radio will stand up to damage.

The level of protection against dust, dirt and dents is indicated with the first number, while the second number shows how deep the device can be submerged in water before it’s waterproofing fails.

Therefore an IP67 rated radio would have a dust-proof rating of 6 and a waterproof rating of 7.

When using radios at sea or near water, one of the most important factors to consider is how water proof the device is, so here is a breakdown of waterproof ratings available:

  • 0 = No protection
  • 1 = Protection from dripping water when device is held vertically
  • 2 = Protection from dripping water when device is held at 15 degrees
  • 3 = Protection from spraying water when device is held up to 60 degrees)
  • 4 = Protection from splashing water
  • 5 = Protection from a low pressure water jet
  • 6 = Protection from waves or a powerful water jet
  • 7 = Protection from short-time immersion in up to one metre of water for up to thirty minutes
  • 8 = Protection from long-time immersion in water that is more than one metre deep.


Continuing on the water theme, buoyancy is also a critical specification when it comes to marine walkie talkies. It’s wise to assume that at some point, your radio will get dropped into the water so look out for models that remain buoyant when they hit the water.

Who Should Have A Marine Walkie Talkie?

Two-way radios, commonly referred to as a walkie talkie is particularly useful in the following scenarios:

  • Ship to shore communications for boat charters
  • Group activities or water enthusiasts enjoying hobbies such as paddle boarding, kayaking, jet skiing, where they are often some distance away from their peers
  • Tour guides and cruise ships – When working on cruise ships, river cruises or water based tours such as whale watching, walkie talkies are a great way to communicate with crew across the vessel.
  • Sailors – stay in touch with other sailors, life guards or friends and family back on shore.
  • Boating and fishing – Often away from others for extended periods of time, a walkie talkie is a great tool for sending messages back to others

NRC Purchase Options

There are plenty of people working on large boats, in safety roles near water, those who cannot move from their post, and many more who work or enjoy hobbies on the water alone. All of these people need a quick and effective method of getting their message heard, and walkie talkie style radios are well suited to these situations.

Here are some of our recommendations for handheld, push to talk, two way radios that would be suitable for maritime use.

The DigiX SEA

DixiX Sea













The DigiX SEA is a professional grade UHF IP54 portable DMR/Analogue radio programmed ready to use with OFCOM UK licensed channels. This radio is high power and will require an Ofcom licence that NRC Radios can assist you with. It has an IP54 rating, 400-470 uMHz frequency, 32 channels available, 12 hours of battery life and comes with microphone and headset connectivity.


The DigiX Link

DigiX Link














The DigiX Link is an excellent waterproof and dust-proof two way radio that is suitable for marine use. With an IP68 rating (the highest available), it can be submerged to a depth of over 1 meter for up to 30 minutes meaning the radio will remain in working order whatever the weather throws at it, or even if it gets dropped overboard. The 16.5-21.5 hours of battery life and array of useful features such as GPS, emergency alarm and remote monitor, makes it a superb option for anyone leaving the shoreline for longer periods of time.

The DigiX Neo

DigiX Neo














The DigiX Neo is a professional grade, highly advanced digital two-way radio with superior voice quality. It is one of the first walkie talkies of its kind to offer full IP67 water and dust protection for all weather conditions. With 32 channels that support both analogue and digital modes, maritime users can communicate seamlessly with others around the world. 16 hours of battery life and a host of important features such as group calling, group broadcast, kill/revive function, it’s an excellent two way radio to consider.


Want to try before you buy?

Ask our team about hiring Marine radios: Call 0151 263 9993 or send an enquiry.


Related Questions

Do Marine Radios Work On Land?

Yes, a two way radio will work on both land and water, but a two way radio specifically designed for marine use will have built in features that make it more suitable for use in or near the water. For example, they will usually require a licence to operate, have higher waterproofing ratings, a wider range of channels, distress signals, longer battery life and larger frequencies.

Do Marine Walkie Talkies Need A Licence?

If using marine VHF, then you will be required to have a marine radio short range certificate and both you and the vessel will also need to hold a relevant licence. By complying with licence requirements, you will ensure that you know how to effectively operate a radio, understand emergency procedures, and will have an MMSI number which is unique to the vessel you are travelling on.

Summary And Where To Buy

NRC has a wealth of experience delivering robust, reliable and high quality two way radio solutions to mariners and water enthusiasts. If you are looking to buy a two-way radio that will ensure you have access to clear, reliable communications and the safety features a radio can provide in a marine environment, please don’t hesitate to contact NRC Radio today.

Our friendly team can talk you through your options on 0151 263 9993 or you can send an email to let us know what you’re looking for. DigiX, Motorola, Hytera, ICOM and Kenwood 2-way radios offer some of the best functionality and reliability available for marine environments and our team is able to secure excellent pricing for our customers on these models.

Founded in 1989, Northwest Radio Communications provides professional communications solutions and excellent customer service to its clients spanning hundreds of industries throughout the UK. From farming, catering, hospitality, leisure, construction and many more, as an approved dealer for DigiX, Motorola, Hytera, ICOM and Kenwood 2-way radios, the team can find the best purchase, hire and maintenance options available for you and your business when it comes to two way radios.