I've just joined this forum, and am having a blast. However, I'm probably a bit more "famous" as a radio amateur. Thought you all might enjoy this excerpt on maritime safety from my work in progress, "The Opus of Amateur Radio Knowledge and Lore." Some day this WILL get published.
Thanks one and all for your wet and salty hospitality.
There is no better place on earth to do some serious hamming than on the high seas. The seafaring ham has a perfect grounding system, something his landlubber kindred can only dream of. Salt water is a conductor, and for the most part, good conductors make good antennas. (The relationship between good antennas and good grounds is a complex one, which we will discuss thoroughly in later chapters.) Suffice it to say that ham radio is good when you’re at sea.
The problem is that it seems a lot of hams who sail are a lot better at hamming than sailing. Or, perhaps, when faced with such idyllic conditions, hams are just more likely to be concentrating on their hamming than their sailing. The seafaring ham should always be aware that he is on top of a body of water, which, except for relatively short periods of time, is not conducive to human life. He should always wear a life preserver, and have foul weather gear handy. He should have a shipmate that really knows the ropes, in case he doesn’t himself. He should, ideally, know how to swim.
Lightning and sailing seem to be attracted to each other, as well. This is not a recent discovery. St. Elmo, the patron saint of Ancient Mariners, is also the namesake of St. Elmo’s fire, a phenomenon now recognized as corona——a plasma discharge on ships’ rigging, caused by the proximity of lightning. Perceptive sailors for centuries have recognized St. Elmo’s fire as a warning to go below decks, batten down the hatches, and if necessary, throw disobedient prophets overboard. Modern seafaring hams, on the other hand, typically see St. Elmo’s fire as a sign that they should shinny up the aluminum mast and readjust their antennas. Such hams are likely to suffer the dual indignities of being fried and drowned.
Is it worth it? Probably.