Re radar....I agree big swell degrades it's performance, but intermittent returns will give you some indication of where you are relative to the land, and comparing that with a chart can help you stay in a channel.
Re channel size.... I agree you cant sail over reefs, so I measured the width between the (5m?) contour lines.
Re bimini / dodger.... I think it is a safe bet that Rule 62 had a dodger or bimini of some sort, and I think you're very correct in the assessment that these plastic bubbles can insulate you from the real conditions (in addition to providing a lot of extra windage). We have a hard dodger (open at the aft end). Sitting inside, under cover, before the wheel, warm and dry is a very diffferent experience to standing at the wheel with the wind in your face. That's why we love the hard dodger! But it's also why I ask watch standers to stick their heads outside every few minutes, so they can get a sense of what's happening in the real world.
Jon, you're a man of few posts, but I've found your contributions here to be insightful -- especially, the one a few pages back about modern electronics extending sailors' comfort zones thus permitting them to sail well beyond their capabilities. In the heat of this discussion perhaps we have not yet extended you a "Welcome" aboard to SailNet!
Thanks for the kind words, and from the earlier greetings from tdw and Smack... Truth be told, however, anyone who's witnessed my act on the CSBB or CA knows I'm just another cyber-sailing gasbag.... (grin)
Yeah, I need to start posting on another sailing forum like I need a hole in the head, but things have been a bit slow elsewhere these days, my old buddy Jeff H assures me this a cool place to hang out...
I'll try to tear myself away from the keyboard after Christmas, however, hopefully head south for a few months - assuming I can get out of here before Barnegat Bay freezes over, that is... (grin)