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rickmc 04-27-2006 10:23 AM

radar detectors
Hi Folks,

Sailing the West Coast can be hazardous because of a high volume of freighter traffic. I can run my radar but it is both power hungry and will not sound an alarm when it sees a large contact.

I thought the perfect solution would be a radar detector. A device that only receives radar signals and warns when it receives them. Simple, low power, inexpensive and relatively fool proof. However, after a thorough search, I was amazed to not be able to find one! Plenty of police radar detectors but these are not the right frequency and were not designed for marine use in any event.

I am so surprised by the absence of this type of product on the market I was wondering, am I missing something?? Am I looking in the wrong place? Does anyone know where I can get one of these?


SailorMitch 04-27-2006 11:43 AM

There's a product called the CARD radar detection system that does what you want -- but not cheaply. I tried to google for it but nothing came up other than a couple of boats for sale that have it installed. The outfit used to advertise in the big glossies and still might so check them out. I did know a guy who used one and he he liked it. Has a screen to show you where the blip is in relation to your boat as well as an audible alarm. If I find a link for it I'll post it.

sailingdog 04-27-2006 11:51 AM

The real problem is that radar detectors do not warn you of boats approaching, unless they have their radar ON. What might be a better choice, is a radar signal enhancer... they do make these for marine use. The device basically takes the incoming radar signal and amplifies before re-transmitting it. This makes you show up on any nearby radar fairly well.

I'm really surprised that your radar unit doesn't have a guard zone feature of any sort.

WHOOSH 04-27-2006 12:13 PM


In addition to radar detectors (CARD) and radar transponders (SeeMe is one brand, as I recall), you have a third option: AIS. Due to GMDSS, vessels larger than 300 tons are now required to carry AIS active transponders (very expensive), which means those of us with small boats can receive that signal via a VHF antenna and then either display it on a small screen of a device like NASA builds - see e.g. - OR feed the same signal into a laptop, perhaps overlaid with an electronic chart, so you can see the targets on your chart OR have it appear on your radar/plotter screen.

AIS will do the computations for you (smarter than your radar unless you are MARPA equipped) since it has your GPS data and the data from the other vessel, and give you warnings on those vessels that will come inside your CPA 'veil'. Moreover, it gives vessel name and - if your VHF is DSC equipped - their MMSI # so you can even 'dial them up' via VHF.

Things sure have changed!


Darrinsailboattrash 10-15-2009 07:35 PM

Seeing as most forums ask you to search before creating duplicate posts, this is what i did. Some forums also don't like you to post in ancient threads, but this one was titled appropriately, so i did it anyway.

I am a single handed sailor, and not exactly what most would call rich. In fact, I'm pretty broke most of the time, unless I have just finished a fiberglass/carpentry contract, and even then, it never lasts long! my boat sucks it up quick! you know a "hole in the water..."

Being single-handed, and planning to sail long passages this way, i need some kind of radar detector like the old Collision Avoidance Radar Detector. Sadly, this company does not exist anymore, and all google can tell me is about the wonderfull world of AIS.

AIS is only useful for ships over 300tons, but what about that 70 foot sport fishing boat that's rippin' along at 20-30knots on autopilot, with the pilot down below watching satellite TV? or the Shrimp boats that don't pay attention to where they're going either?

most larger vessels (by larger, i mean 60+ft) usually use radar, and have it spinning most of the time. The c.a.r.d. was a great system!

my question:

does anyone know if there is some small company that makes something similar?


if not (and i'm pretty sure there isn't, cause i've googled extensively) does anyone know how hard it would be to make one.

the c.a.r.d. drew less than an amp from the batteries, so single handers could get longer cat naps with the alarm set. i cannot afford a brand new radar, and even if i could, having to run the engine to have the radar in watchman mode all night is not practical if you're going to be at sea for more than 2 weeks.(i don't want to carry a whole lot of fuel, and the fuel i do carry, i want to use for moving the boat, not charging the battery).

am i basically screwed, and have to buy radar, or are my night's rest basically doomed for all eternity?


sailingdog 10-15-2009 09:46 PM

AIS doesn't really help much, since it doesn't include smaller powerboats. The CARD is still made IIRC, see here.

Darrinsailboattrash 10-16-2009 08:23 AM

it appears as though they are still around, but they are not.
or, they ways they suggest you get in contact with them don't work (email).

i've emailed their contact info numerous times to no avail.

p.s. love your sig (love firefly!)

mallo 10-19-2009 06:22 AM

www dot echomax dot co dot uk/ (newest)
www dot sea-me dot co dot uk/
I have the sea-me one seems to work very well.

sailingdog 10-19-2009 11:22 AM


The Sea-Me and CARD are two totally different devices. One is an active radar reflector, the other is only a radar detector.

Darrinsailboattrash 10-19-2009 12:59 PM

the sea-me thing has a little visual indicator add-on that you can buy. it's close, but not quite the same. it is, however, the closest i've seen to the c.a.r.d.

the c.a.r.d. has an optional audio alarm, and visually shows which direction the radar signal is coming from.
this system is passive, which sucks, but sometimes seeing the ship is enough without them seeing you.

i like how the sea-me is active, and makes you seen better.

i've also heard you can make a passive radar REflector using hundres of lightly crumpled strips of aluminum foil, in some kind of receptacle, fixed as close to the masthead as you can, without it chafing a lot on the leech of your jib.

i have not tested this, however, i would like to experiment a little more. i have just been told it works great.

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