Splishin’ and Splashin’: Uniden Mystic

I can tell with a quick glance at the LCD screen on the Uniden Mystic, a new 6 7/8"-by-5 5/8" handheld VHF radio with WAAS-enabled mapping 12-channel GPS, that I'm smack-dab in the middle of the river. What's more, I can dunk this baby right into that river, if I were so inclined. How do I know? Above the backlit keypad is the magic word-submersible. Oooh, baby.

Of course, we at Boating do not accept manufacturer claims such as these until we test them for ourselves. So, ignoring the fact that the Mystic costs more than the balance in my checking account, I hastily roll up my sleeve and thrust the handheld into the river's 40-degree water. I hold it there until my hand turns blue, then pull it out-and yes, the GPS and VHF features still work. The Mystic takes a splashing and keeps on tracking. So if you accidentally drop it into the bay, you can still call mayday.

This five-watt, DSC-capable VHF radio has scanning, memory, Triple Watch Plus (which allows you to monitor channels 16 and 9), a user-selected channel, and weather alert. It also has a PC interface for uploading Magellan Blue Nav charts-a feature you'll appreciate because the background map doesn't show depth contours. The 2"-by-1 3/4" LCD display is backlit.

Either as a backup unit on a big boat or as the primary communication/navigation system on a small boat, the Uniden Mystic gets a big blue thumbs-up from me.

Price $700 Contact Uniden, 800/297-1023, www.uniden.com