We're required by racing regs to carry them but any sensible person would have an emergency VHF antenna tucked away inside for just in case.

Carrying an emergency VHF antenna is a sensible thing to do. We may get a loss of signal to our mast head unit for any number of reasons, from chafe damaged cables to dismasting.

But have you ever wondered if you really need to buy a specific emergency VHF antenna or will a standard whip aerial do the job?

emergency vhf antenna

If you dismast, you’ll need to get creative with how you mount your antenna. Planning ahead saves a lot of stress.

If you carry a pole on board, such as a long boat hook, a telescoping pole or even a sturdy fishing rod, then you have the means to elevate your VHF antenna. Most emergency antennas rely on you using some initiative to help them gain a decent signal by hoisting them as high as possible above sea level.

Some emergency antennas give you a helping hand by being very long when assembled. Some of them connect into your handheld VHF too.

Here’s a selection of some of the tried an tested emergency VHF antennas on the market.

Revolve-Tec Emergency VHF/AIS Marine Antenna

Reasons to Buy

Bright colour, easy assembly, built in long pole/height

Reasons to Avoid

the cable feels quite vulnerable and thin

The Revolve marine emergency VHF antenna includes AIS compatibility and is optimised for VHF CH16 (as per universal standard for VHF antennas)

It is constructed using similar technology to slap wraps where a curved composite material can be rolled flat, but once unrolled reforms into a tubular shape.

It comes with the coax plug already attached and has an adapter in the bag that allows you to plug it into a handheld VHF, which is, er handy.

The antenna comes with rigging holes and is supplied with velcro straps (though you may want to use cable ties and more straps or gaffer tape of your own), enabling attachment to any vertical mast structure, guard rail or any substructure that can deliver the maximum height available.

The antenna can be purchased with or without an integral SOLAS approved LED strobe light.

Read our review of this Revolve-Tech Emergency VHF Antenna


length 2.5m deployed
weight 750 grams
cable length: 6m
stowage size: 11cm x 13cm

Buy from Fox’s Chandlery

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Nordwest-Funk RA114 Glomex Emergency Antenna for FM Marine Radio Systems Orange

Reasons to Buy

Bright easy to see colour, long cable length,

Reasons to Avoid

short antenna, needs mounting on your own pole

Glomex Emergency VHF Antenna – Aerial. Standard emergency VHF antenna with a plastic housing that keeps everything contained within. Once deployed the housing becomes the mount tube. This model has a slightly longer cable than others in the same category.


Length in use: 49cm
Cable length 9m
weight 850grams

Buy from Amazon


V-Tronix Shorelink Emergency Antenna

Reasons to Buy

Bright easy to see colour, long cable length, bulkhead mountable

Reasons to Avoid

short antenna, needs mounting on your own pole

V-Tronix Shorelink Emergency VHF Antenna comes in a sealed waterproof container. It can be easily stored on a bulkhead or within a grab bag or flare pack. -6m of miniature coaxial cable (RG-174) with PL-259 plug fitted. It’s simple and does the job.


length when in use: 0.4m
cable length – 6m

Buy from Gaelforce marine

Buy from Amazon

Buy from EBay

Shakespeare INFL8-5 Galaxy-INFL8 VHF Inflatable Emergency Antenna

Reasons to Buy

Bright easy to see colour, hanging loops, small stowage, long aerial for better height

Reasons to Avoid

the inflatable antenna can puncture which then requires you to hang it as it isn’t self supporting.

An inflatable antenna that can be rapidly deployed via a Co2 cartridge or a manual tube and inflates to 5 ft (1.6 m) to offer a 3dB antenna.

It comes in a small stowage bag that can be stashed in a grab bag or attached somewhere easy to reach in an emergency.

The antenna can be mounted using supplied velcro straps to a pole of your choice. It also has grommets top and bottom to allow hanging from a spreader or otehr high up structure.

The connectors included in the package allow for versatile connection options. The pre-soldered PL-259 connector allows connection to a Fixed VHF directly or a handheld via the included SMA Adaptor. The package also includes a solder-free female UHF connector that allows the antenna to be spliced into existing coax cables on the boat.


Length when in use: 1.6m
Weight: 589.67 Grams
Cable length: 6m

Buy from Amazon


Supergain Task 530mm RIB VHF Antenna with Bracket

Reasons to Buy

easy to connect, low cost, decent signal

Reasons to Avoid

not brightly coloured, can be damaged in stowage cupboard, requires more space for stowage, requires ingenuity for mounting on a pole

The Task antenna is a 3dB gain VHF antenna designed especially for Rigid Inflatable Boats but with its compact size and bracket attachment it lends itself neatly to being an emergency VHF antenna. Whilst it takes up a little more space in the cupboard due to its length, it is quick and easy to plug in to the main set. The bracket can easily be cable tied to any pole end or whatever you can fashion to give this antenna some height.

length: 530 mm
weight: 125g
cable length: 6m

For more buying advice on VHF radios you can read our tried and tested guide to handheld VHF radios 

If you are looking for a new VHF radio for your sailboat or yacht, we give our advice in this guide to Marine VHF radios