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FrankLanger 08-18-2006 03:02 PM

Do I need radar reflector in my situation?
I have bought an Ericson 30+ and do day sailing for up to a week at a time, but never sail at night or in fog. The boat doesn't have a radar reflector (the eight-sided thing like they put on backstays).

I sail in the Strait of Georgia and Gulf Islands in BC, Canada, where there are large ferries, tug boats towing barges and sailboats and motor boats of all sizes. I always keep a fairly sharp lookout, leave others lots of room, and never leave the cockpit while sailing. I always have my VHF radio on channel 16 if a boat wants to hail me to determine my course/intentions. I am aware that ferries go about 18 knots, and cover alot of water in a short time, so I do give them lots of room.

Therefore, it seems to me that a radar reflector is not really a useful addition in my case (there are already too many things I need to spend money on!). Am I overlooking something?

Thanks for any comments or opinions.


Cruisingdad 08-18-2006 03:22 PM

Hi Frank,

Aren't the Davis Echomasters like 25-80 bucks, depending on which one you get? A nice dinner out for one - or in my case, just a bloody trip to McDonalds with the kids.

I think it was CWorld that did a write up and test on them a few months back. Will have to excuse the exact time of the article, but I have slept since then. I think you can run through their archives and find it. As I recall, they gave the cheapo little Davis a good write-up.

I would be less concerned about the times you are vigilantly watching than the times you are not. 25 bucks? 80 bucks? Well, that is a lot of beer, but in terms of a boat, not much money.

I will contradict myself on one thing which I would like to point out and you mentioned: Freighters, barges, and Sea Rays... it is not as if they will steer around you even if they did see you. They DO own the sea, you know.

jorjo 08-18-2006 03:30 PM


Originally Posted by FrankLanger
Therefore, it seems to me that a radar reflector is not really a useful addition in my case (there are already too many things I need to spend money on!). Am I overlooking something?

Thanks for any comments or opinions.


Yup !

Your invisable to radar !
Widen your senarios a bit further.

Consider something like Ferry and tug boat in a near miss situ, Lets say the Ferry has to act fast and swing wide into a clear space, Can you be sure that he's going to see you? can you be sure that he won't just instinctively swing to the EMPTY space on his instruments while keeping eyes the action he's busy avoiding on the far side?

Same problems in a Man overboard senario, will all eyes elsewhere theres a possibility of a ferry paying more attention to the instruments than upfront.

By rights you logic sould stack up but your logic is only sound IF everyone else on the water behaves as you expect them too.

Do you want to leave it to trust for everyone else to notice you out there if they get caught up in a heavyduty crisis of thir own ?

Havin said that, A radar reflector is not the only option :D
A cannon on deck to Blast them out of the water, could work pretty well :p

FrankLanger 08-18-2006 03:36 PM

I think a cannon on deck would look great on my Ericson 30+, :D though I'm not sure the Coast Guard would share my enthusiasm!! :eek:

In other posts I have read periodically that many of the larger boats don't check their radar that carefully. And we recently had a ferry run into an island!! I suspect that they would likely be even less attentive to their radar on good weather days, when they are likely not anticipating the kind of situations that could arise at night or in fog. So even in the situations described above, is the radar reflector going to help much?

Also, can anyone tell me if my 30 foot sailboat with 46 foot mast will show up on their radar at all without a radar reflector--ie. is the radar reflector the only thing that will tell them I'm there (if they can't see me visually) or would I show up a bit smaller or more faintly without the reflector?


Tea-Rex 08-18-2006 04:15 PM

an attentative radar operator might pick you out of the clutter even in adverse conditions, but few civilian vessels will bother much.

to put it short: that thing might one day save your life without you even knowing.

hellosailor 08-18-2006 09:59 PM

Do you NEED a radar reflector? Of course not, you can always see the other vessel and duck.

On the other hand, those disposable-looking cheap Davis fold-up jobs have gotten consistantly excellent reviews, and having one aloft makes cheap insurance.

I guess it comes down to the line from Dirty Harry:
"Are ya feeling lucky today?"

sailingdog 08-18-2006 10:53 PM

Umm... Not getting one seems to be a case of penny-wise and pound foolish.

pigslo 08-19-2006 09:51 PM

if you won't spend money on one then at least wear a tin foil viking hat

sailingdog 08-20-2006 01:16 AM

LOL... a very big tin foil hat...and use the good Reynolds Heavyweight Oven foil...

hellosailor 08-20-2006 10:18 AM

The problem with wearing a tin foil Viking hat, is that first you have to catch and skin a tin foil Viking to get the pelt to make the hat.


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