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Old 06-17-2002
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Cell phones and masthead antenna update

Cannot find old thread so here is my finding.

A Marine Cell phone antenna at masthead DEFINITELY results in a SIGNIFICANT improvement in reception.

Last year we moved to a new marina in an area with very spotty cell phone coverage. Both systems A and B (2 different cell service providers) had very poor reception at our marina. My handheld Nokia worked only at a specific spot about 1 km from marina. I then bought a 3 watt bag phone having heard that would help. It worked when left on coachroof while boat was on the cradle. Once launched the cell worked in the Bay but only occassionally at the marina.

As the saga unfolded I had posted a question about this on a bulletin board. Jeff H suggested a masthead antenna might help due to line of sight and all that (the area is surrounded by low rolling hills). I tried an automobile antenna and lifted it up a few feet. I believed from the experiment that height worked and that the particular auto antenna was of poorer quality than the one built into the phone.

This season the mast was down so I purchased a Shakespeare 4801 marine antenna. It is only 2 feet high so it is not unsightly. I placed this at masthead near the VHF (which also still works properly) and ran the cables. Having just arrived back at the Marina last week I was uncertain whether this would prove to be a waste of $250 or it would work. It works. It works 100% of the time at the marina. It works too well! Now I have to turn the phone off because I am not used to a phone ringing when on my boat!

You may think that a phone is silly on a boat and I agree to a point. We use the boat as a cottage and we have guests arriving for a sail. It is nice to have them able to contact me if they cannot make it or will be hours late so that I am not stuck at the marina!

This is a long story. Thanks for reading to the end if you got here.

Regards,

Mike on
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