A discussion on another forum about mobile HF radio sets got me thinking;
There have been dozens of times where I've been in a cove or a bowl and been blocked from transmitting or receiving anything on my marine VHF because marine VHF is basically line-of-sight.
If I'd gotten in trouble in a location where I couldnt use the VHF I'd have been stuck. However if I had a HF ham or marine SSB radio on hand I could yell for help and use the sky bounce to cover several hundred to several thousand square miles.
On the other hand, if nobody is listening then it'd still be useless - who monitors HF freqs in Southcentral AK?
To legally use the entire available bands I'd need to get a ham license to operate a HF radio AND use the VHF 6 and 2 meter bands. The test for a technician license is super-easy, and (from what I understand) the general license test isnt all that terribly difficult now that they've dropped the morse code requirement.
For marine SSB HF radios you dont need to take a test but you need a Ship Station license and a lifetime Restricted Radiotelephone Operator's permit. The frequencies they can legally transmit/receive on is limited in comparison - they can't TX/RX in the 6 meter or 2 meter bands. (50 - 54mhz and 144 - 148mhz respectively) They can transmit at 100 watts.
So in your opinion, is it worth getting a ham radio license or just go with a marine SSB or for that matter - dont bother at all.
A quick ebay search for ham and marine ssb radios shows me they're fairly spendy though.
A link describing marine SSB: http://www.latitude38.com/features/SSB.html
A link describing ham radio: http://www.eham.net/newham/bands