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RobGallagher 10-22-2012 01:40 AM

VHF Antenna
I don't go more than 10 - 12 miles from land. Ever. Really. Do I really need a masthead mounted VHF? I'm having trouble with the antenna and seriously considering getting the thing off the masthead and mounting it on the rail. This boat is new to me, but, my last boat I had problems with the antenna on the mast head as well.

Am I crazy or would the shorter cable and ease of keeping fittings clean more than make up for the shorter transmitting distance?

Most of the time I use a handheld anyway. My Standard Horizon waterproof handheld kept me in contact with a USCG station 10+ miles away the one time I really needed to talk and fix a failed stuffing box at the same time.

Talk me out of a stink pot setup. :D

MarkSF 10-22-2012 02:12 AM

Re: VHF Antenna
Just a few thoughts :

It took me a while to trace the problem with my masthead antenna, but it eventually came down to the piece of coax between the mast base, and the radio. There's usually a connection at the mast base. Replaced everything between that and the radio, everything became fine.

My handheld is OK for talking to the coastguard because they have large antennas, high up, and excellent equipment.

Talking to other boats is a different matter. Even the masthead antenna is only just enough for talking to other sailboats over distances 5 to 10 miles.

It does strike me that a stern mounted antenna would make an excellent backup. If that backup gets used almost indefinitely, until the next time the mast is pulled, so be it!

Finally, if you do go for a stern mount, you still need a 3db sailboat antenna, not a higher gain power boat one, to handle the heel of a sailboat.

MarkSF 10-22-2012 02:20 AM

Re: VHF Antenna
For diagnostic purposes, and now for a backup (backup backup, to be accurate), I bought one of these :

Shakespeare Antenna Specifications: Shakespeare Stowaway™ 5911 VHF Marine Band

RobGallagher 10-22-2012 10:02 AM

Re: VHF Antenna

Originally Posted by MarkSF (Post 936859)
For diagnostic purposes, and now for a backup (backup backup, to be accurate), I bought one of these :

Shakespeare Antenna Specifications: Shakespeare Stowaway™ 5911 VHF Marine Band

Cool. It's on my list for next season.

BarryL 10-22-2012 10:17 AM

Re: VHF Antenna

In all honesty I don't think you need a mast mounted antenna. A rail mount would provide adequate performance. That being said, it's pretty rare for the ANTENNA to fail, it's almost always the cable or connectors. Do you pull the mast in the winter? If so, I would stick with the mast mount and just inspect / repair as necessary in the spring. If you leave the rig up all the time I would go with a antenna mounted on the rail where you can more easily access the connectors.


asdf38 10-22-2012 12:19 PM

Re: VHF Antenna
I don't know. A good VHF is one of the best pieces of safety gear you can have. I think it's worth investing in and the height of the antenna matters quite a bit. I didn't have one for two seasons because of bad wiring and now that I do I'm pretty happy about it. It also means I can properly monitor 16 which is a good thing to be doing in the harbor.

I think the coax wiring and connectors are a chronic problem. Coax doesn't like to be bent as much as regular stranded and the connectors used for deck fittings etc are often terrible and/or in places where wiring can be kicked or stepped on where it exits the deck (as was the case on my boat)

I invested in one of these this season and hope this will lead to long and corrosion free life for my all new mast coax cable.
Salty John: Cableport and other fine boat and yacht chandlery products.

hellosailor 10-22-2012 03:49 PM

Re: VHF Antenna
Rob, you're happy with a h/t? It does teh job for you?

I won't say how many times the old h/t in my sea bag has become the primary radio when the installed one with the masthead antenna won't work.

If it works for you...nuf said.

Barquito 10-22-2012 04:41 PM

Re: VHF Antenna
I think VHF is an important safety item... OTOH, power boaters regularly go offshore pretty far with only one means of power, and short VHF antenna. (makes me twitchy, just thinking about it.)

Waltthesalt 10-22-2012 11:06 PM

Re: VHF Antenna
Go on line and use a line of sight calculator. For a 30' height and a 6' foot receive height the max range is 11 miles. For 6' transmit and receive the range is six miles. Unless you're using a rubber duck antenna you should get reliable ranges out to 9.5 miles with most antennas and VHF transmitters. Going much beyond that you probably won't get reliable signals.

floridajaxsailor 10-23-2012 12:00 AM

Re: VHF Antenna
the rail mount is fine
of course that obtuse moment can happen to anyone...

I have a powerboat 3' mounted to the side of the exterior cabin, new style
works wonderfully, more than enough range

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