First off I want to thank Richard a.k.a. MMNETSEA for his guidance and help finding a good rig without busting the bank account. If you are new to HAM, selecting the right rig can be overwhelming when you have no idea as to what is good for your needs and ability. On Richard’s suggestion I purchased a Kenwood TS 480SAT 100Watt HF system. I was able to find a new one for $815US. This unit has the separate control face plate and transceiver much like the Icom M802 which works quite well in my nav station. The Kenwood TS 480SAT seems to have all the functionality that a mariner needs once the Marine SSB channels are opened up. In comparison to the Icom M802 at $1800 to $2400us, The Kenwood makes perfect sense for the first time HAM operator.
After spending several weeks getting the antenna, ground and coupler situation worked out, I was finally able to spend several hours last night speaking for the first time on several frequencies and everyone said my signal was coming through load and clear.