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Marine VHF Radio, Lost, Found in Yacht’s Bilge after 5 Years and Still Working!

Marine VHF Radio, Lost, Found in Yacht’s Bilge after 5 Years and Still Working!

We regularly get sent stories about our radios withstanding the most extreme conditions, but nothing as strange as when sailor Jon Morby had a shocking surprise after exploring his newly acquired 1977 Moody 39CC boat, named Pamela C. Jon had been attempting to upgrade his NMEA 2000 Marine network system and found an IC-M1EUROV in the bilge section of his boat having been lost for at least 5 years Not only was it in good condition but when switched on, it immediately worked…how’s that for product quality?

Jon takes up the story, ‘Renovation work is coming along nicely on Pamela C. I'm trying not to change too much from the original look of the boat, but at the same time still trying to modernise where appropriate (LED lights instead of the older power-hungry lamps), inverter, water maker and lithium batteries, wind turbine, etc.

‘I bought Pamela C in May 2021. I had spent about 3 years looking for a suitable cruising boat and every time I thought I'd found one, the boat had already been sold. Lockdown didn’t help with all the restrictions but with a lot of searching and a lot of luck I eventually found her!‘

‘Pamela C is over 4 metres wide and that means lots of room inside, so perfect as a liveaboard and also very stable, so great for crossing oceans. She has also stood rock-solid in the recent storms (Dudley, Eunice and Franklin) whilst others around her were healed over at 30+ degrees in the marina. She seems an incredibly stable boat and sails like a dream!’

‘One of the problems with buying a 45-year-old boat is that most of the systems are just as old. She has a first-generation Lowrance chart plotter at the helm and nothing is really networked.’

‘Before setting off on my travels I had finally decided to bite the bullet and upgrade the boat's systems, integrating with the Icom IC-M510 I bought at the 2021 boat show. I've ordered a chart plotter, transducer, radar head and a few other bits. These all require a modern network backbone instead of the older NMEA 0183, and as such I was busy pulling up the boards and running a new NMEA 2000 backbone in anticipation of the arrival of my new chart plotter etc. I was also hoping to find the Go Pro Hero 5 which I'd lost a month or so earlier and figured must have gone down the back of one of the cupboards.’

‘You can imagine my surprise as I slid my hand under one of the cupboards and into the (very dirty bilges) to try and run the NMEA 2K backbone cable up the back of the wall and out through the gap where the internal chart plotter sits. I started to feel around and then found something too large to be the Go Pro…I pulled on it and it came out. To my amazement, it was the Icom handheld radio. It was covered in gunk, mould and worse. I tried turning it on and couldn't believe my eyes when it sprung into life!’

‘I figured, well it must be waterproof, so I took it to the galley and ran it under the tap for a few minutes to get the worst of the gunk off and then looked at it again. It had a full battery; it was as though it had just come out of a charger. I took a photo and posted it on Facebook (as you do) and then contacted the boat's previous owner. He told me he knew nothing of the radio and that it must have belonged to the previous owner which means it has to have been behind the cupboard/in the bilges for at least FIVE (5) years! ... neither of us could believe it!’

‘I made a quick radio check on channel 65 to the local NCI volunteers and they heard me loud and clear! I really couldn't believe it! What amazing build quality - not to mention the battery which seems to have held a full charge for so long!

‘My plans are now to sail around the west coast of the UK in the first part of this year once the worst of the weather subsides and the rigger finishes off the last bits of work. I will then head down to Gibraltar in May / June, taking a slow, leisurely 3 weeks or so stopping off at as many spots as we can to sample the local cuisine, check out the bars and meet people (COVID permitting).’

You can read more about Jon’s plans and exploits on his blog at and YouTube channel . You can also follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

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