Headsets [for communication and private listening...] [Updated Mar-2019]

  ➛ ➛ From our list of Stuff we have and use [and do...] in the right sidebar ➛ ➛   

This is part of a series describing some of our common boat systems and their use. 

We refer to these often not only for our own use, but also when asked specific questions about systems on Denali Rose, and when participating in discussions on various forums.

We aren't implying our choices are the best or only way to go; they just happen to be the decisions we made [...or sometimes what came with our boat...]

And since we are talking about electronics, in the future our choices in this post may become dated and/or obsolete, so we will endeavor to keep this information current regarding what we have and use, and what we are researching/considering for the future.

––––– Updated 2-Mar-2019 [by Bill] –––––

[First published 18-Mar-2017]

We have always used hand signals when anchoring, but there are times when a conversation [or both hands are required for the task-at-hand...] may be better, or even necessary. 

Hand gestures are nothing new... 

In fact, gestures most likely preceded oral language- and still do if we don't know a language... [And I'm reminded speaking volume is no substitute for lack of language skills.....] 

Unfortunately, Technology rarely helps in such cases... 

Once the anchor is down, communicating with the helms person regarding present depth and how much anchor chain is out is also simply accomplished using hand signals:
...or not so simply... [blurring is intentional to demonstrate the clarity with which gestures are sometimes received... ]
And no, these are not in our abbreviated arsenal of hand/finger gestures for anchor teamwork...

Walkie-Talkies [or any half-duplex radios] work for this need, but we found too many safety issues with years of use for these purposes. [e.g., one hand for the radio; missed dialog because you were both keying the mike/speaking at once; VOX (Voice Activation) is activated by ambient sounds [e.g., wind, heavy breathing, etc.] effectively muting the other party...] Therefore, we decided to go with full duplex capability [like telephones- all parties can speak/hear simultaneously.]

We proofed that concept for ourselves using our smart phones with headsets and one of the many freely available bluetooth walkie-talkie apps.

That cemented it for us. And since we had already decided not to risk our smart phones in inclement conditions, we tried two different, robust commercial offerings; one with a belt-clip transceiver with corded headset [Eartec], and one pure headset version. [They cost about the same...]

We by far prefer the SENA SPH10 bluetooth headsets over the two piece Eartec model we have. 

Why? The one piece SENA can be put on in a hurry [no belt pack and cord to a headset...] And the SENA can be used for phone calls, etc... 

Sound quality and function is about the same for both models we have from 2014 [Eartec] and 2016 [SENA]. [Note Eartec now offers a one piece headset model. See Additional Resources section below.]

Cruising Solutions sells SENA [and others] and has some great instructional videos.
(These are very feature-rich headsets...)

We still almost always use hand signals when playing with the anchor(s) but there are times while anchoring, docking, dealing with something on the foredeck, in the engine room, at the masthead, etc.- especially during inclement conditions- when coordinating in civil tones works wonders. 
This is especially true for situations for which the hand signal is not visible to the receiving party, or has not yet been developed [and it is not a convenient time to make up a new one...] 
Or perhaps the hand [finger] gesture chosen under stress might not be appropriate, intended, nor well received...
Hands-free, simultaneous voice communication is also very useful when at the top of the mast, in the engine room [these work well even with the diesel engine running...] in a crowded nightclub [right...] etc.

They are very quick to put on and turn on, easy to mute [e.g., when in the engine room, or when speaking to someone else...] comfortable, waterproof, have many features [bluetooth pairing to smart phone for music, phone calls, etc.] and just plain work. 

We have also used them on the road [their original development was for motorcycle riders after all...] when driving separate vehicles, and especially like them when backing our truck/camper and one of our 27ft trailers into tight spaces. 

Hand signals just don't apply in such situations- especially in the dark...

As back-up we still have intercom capability with our wireless VHF radio mike, handheld VHF radios, and FRS [walkie-talkie] radios [which we always issue to away teams...] 

But for us, nothing beats reliable, hands-free, phone-like conversation capability- especially in sporty situations. 

There is good reason why this type of capability/technology is often categorized as Marriage Saver in nature...

What communication styles, practices, and technology [if any...] work best for you in similar situations?

PS: This is one of the follow-ups about items not included in our End of year [2016] upgrades for the boat post because they were gifts... 

Additional Resources:

Review of current full-duplex headset models [Panbo; Mar-2019]

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