A common investment for boat owners, is a waterproof CB radio. It could save your life in an emergency. Of course, when searching for CB radios designed specifically for a boat, you can’t just pick up any old radio. A CB radio designed for the road or use at home probably isn’t the best choice for use out on the water.
Remember; boats are probably going to be a lot further apart than your average radio ‘on the road’. Not to mention the fact that you are going to be dealing with the elements. Thankfully, there are options available. Let us introduce you to our top pick, the Uniden UM435.
What Makes a Great CB Radio for a Boat
Well; for starters, it is fully submersible. The microphone can also put up with quite a battering from the water and function well. Let’s be honest; when you are out there on the water, the conditions are not always going to be perfect. Things are going to get wet. The last thing you want is a CB radio which is going to falter at the slightest hint of a stray wave. We had a look around before we wrote this review, and we can’t find evidence that a single person has had their Uniden UM435 break because it got wet.
It also has a built-in distress call feature. However, we are going to cover that in a bit more depth in a bit. You will not find something like this on your typical CB radio. This is part of the reason as to why the UM435 could potentially save your life when you are out on the water.
Being on a boat, surrounded by water and potentially being exposed to rain, it’s important that the CB radio be waterproof. While it’s not made to be completely submerged, the plastic, closed-cell style buttons, will prevent any water from reaching the interior electronics. So if you get caught in a downpour, or god forbid spill your beer on the dash, you won’t have to worry.
Having a waterproof or water resistant CB radio is key for use on a boat, and is the most important criteria in our opinion.
This is one of our favorite features in the UM435. Although, in order to use it, you will need to have your CB radio linked up to your GPS. Don’t worry, this is simple to do. If you get into any trouble, you can hit the distress call button on the radio. This will send out a distress call repeatedly until somebody responds. You do not need to do anything other than press that button.
Obviously, you can make a distress call the ‘normal’ way if you do not have a GPS on your boat (most people do nowadays), but this feature makes everything a whole lot more automatic. Honestly, we would probably pick up this CB radio for this feature alone.
On a clear day, you should be able to get at least 5-miles range on your radio, although some people have claimed that they can get a lot more than this. 5-miles seems to be about the ‘average’ range, though. This is going to be more than enough if you want to get in touch with boat crews in the local area, or maybe talk to the harbor. It should also be enough for those distress calls.
You probably could boost this range a little bit if you get your hands on a better quality antenna. Although, if you do that, make sure that the antenna is rated for ‘boat use’ because some of them do rust quite easily.
Easy to Use
For the most part, you will be able to use your CB radio right out of the box. It does come with a hefty instruction manual, but all of the features are clearly laid out. In fact, this is probably one of the best CB radio instruction manuals we have ever read (it even goes into depth on the technicalities of making a Mayday call). Even if you do not read the manual, you should be able to get to grip with the vast majority of the functions.
You have three different modes built into the CB radio:
- Normal – This will allow you to monitor a single channel.
- Scan – This will allow you to scan through several programmed channels.
- Weather – This will allow you to monitor the weather for the area
The normal and weather modes should be fairly self-explanatory. The scan one can be a bit confusing, though. It won’t actually scan radio signals in the local area. Instead, you must program select frequencies into your radio, to begin with. It will only monitor those. This can make it perfect for those who are operating boats as part of a team, although it can be a bit annoying if you are a solo boater as you won’t be able to hear anything through your CB radio.
Considering the speaker inside of the UM435 is so tiny, it is surprisingly loud. That being said, we doubt that you will be using it that much. Most people who take their CB radio seriously will consider picking up a PA speaker that they can hook up to their radio. We don’t think that the UM435 on its own will be loud enough during the most intense storms. Although let’s be honest, you probably won’t be focusing too much on the radio if you are battling to keep control of your boat.
One of the issues that a lot of people seem to mention about the Uniden UM435 is the fact that the microphone clip isn’t the best. Most people with normal use don’t report any issues, but of the few complaints, it appears to be the most common.
Other than this, for the money you are going to be getting something that works well. In fact, the Uniden UM435 performs just as well as a CB radio on a boat, that is 4-5x the price. You can’t really go wrong here.
If you are looking for a quality CB radio for use on your boat, then there is little that can beat the Uniden UM435. If you’re not sure if a two-way radio would be better, review the differences between a two-way radio vs a CB radio here. This CB is well-built, will last a good few years, and offers unmatched sound quality. It also comes in at a ridiculously cheap price. Yes, it does have issues, but nothing that will put your life in jeopardy.