Well, not to fear there are several things you can do to make sure your radio works correctly.
If you are a sailor then you know what a back stay is. It's one of those wirey things that keep your antennas up, right? Yes, but there's more to it. You can use it as what is known as a long wire antenna. Indeed, a backstay antenna is one of the easiest to use in the world of radio.
Although we are simplifying its installation quite a bit, suffice it to say, all you need with your radio is what is known as a tuner unit (this is the contraption that makes the whole thing work there's actually a very long and involved quadratic equation that proves how you balance an antenna system, but all you really have to know is how to turn the radio on, press a couple of buttons until all of the dials stop moving and then starting to talk.
The lucky part of using a backstay antenna is the fact that you are likely to be on salt water or brackish water when you are using it. This means that all you have to do is drop a line into the water to act as a ground wire and you're ready to go. People who live in houses with lots of acreage around them and elaborate antenna farms would give their eye teeth to have what you have surrounding your boat because it's the best ground there is. This means your radio will tune up and work for your very quickly.
Just who will you be calling? There are certain marine frequencies set aside between 5 to 10 MHz that are there for what is known as HF or High Frequency use (hams have lots more frequencies to work with however, if you declare an emergency you can talk on a police or fire frequency and you have priority) and you will use these and your backstay antenna to communicate with the authorities.
There are other radio antennas that, if you become licensed, you will be able to mount anywhere on your boat and use them to talk with any stations around the world which is one of the great things about obtaining your ham license. Indeed, the sailor who made history about 30 years ago with his round the world row in a closed boat received his ham license from a club not too far from here, something that many people in that particular organization don't remember.
Make sure you use good marine grade cable that won't weather badly and be sure that any connections you make to the rear of your radio or any connections you make to your backstay are sealed tightly. If you are using a soldering iron and are new to the art, just remember that all of the solder should appear bright and shiny and when you are finished and it has cooled be sure to make sure you seal the connection as tightly as possible with not only fusing tape but room temperature vulcanizing agent or RTV. Yes, it does smell like drying vinegar but when it is dry, it is waterproof. It might be a good idea, also to run a separate ground bus for all of your other electronic devices just to be on the safe side.