I just upgraded the Icom M710 to an M801e before they become
unavailable (I got mine Radio Exchange in Australia).
However in many ways this is unnecessary. I mainly use HF
radio for email (including position reports) and getting grib files
and other weather info using sail docs. Of course this also needs a PACTOR modem if
you want to do it at reasonable speed.
Form a cost point of view a ham radio costing a fraction of the price,
or at least a rugged non-marine Icom radio like a IC-7200 would do the
That said a modern DSC equipped HF/MF radio has an important
advantage. If you are out of VHF range of shore or other ships and you
are in trouble sending a DSC urgency or distress message on MF will
find another ship. All ships have their SSB radios. They do the
compulsory test of them once a month and they have them switched on.
If you send a DSC distress message it will make them "ring" loadly on
the bridge! They will not however monitor 2182kHz (the MF equivalent
of ch 16). Pretty much no one does. Not even Lyngby Radio or HMCG. So
a non DSC SSB radio does not do that job.
I agonized over that for a while. I even wrote a small program that
made a DSC message over my old non DSC M710 radio (that bit was easy,
it is the decoding that is hard). But in the end I decided to get the
proper kit. In any case the M801e is waterproof and fits in much more
You can still make link calls to phones. It is expensive - I am not
sure if it is more expensive than a sat phone. Here is a nice YoutUbe
to call a phone. You dont need DSC for this i just makes it a bit
easier. It certainly makes it easier for a phone to call you as it
"rings" rather than having to wait for traffic lists. Compared to a Sat phone though one down side is
that long distance it will only work at certain times of day depending as it has to skip off the ionosphere.
If you want to get an SSB radio and a UK license Bob Smith is the
person to help . I did the Long Range
Certificate course with him. On the
other hand if the yacht is registered in the US it seems you don't need
to do a course, you just apply for a ships radio license!
By the way I have an Icom 710 for sale.
See also my post on various ways for position reporting/tracking