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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So as I'm fitting out our new boat, the most hotly debated question so far has been where to mount the radar. Wasn't expecting that one, as I've always thought it was six in one, half a dozen in the other. But I'm told its very different in terms of range and clarity. So Sailnet, help me decide. Below, I've mentioned pros/cons of each approach. What does your boat have that works best for your and why.

Radar I have: Raymarine RD218 2kw Radome


Mast Mount

  1. PRO: Better range
  2. PRO: Less cluttered cockpit
  3. CON: Need more cable extension - provided 15 meter wont be enough, so minimum of 5 meter additionally needed
  4. CON: Will need to buy a mast mount and climb up on bosun chair to install
  5. CON: Will often catch on 140% Genoa when tacking

Stern Mount
  1. PRO: Will be able to mount wind generator on stern pole above radome
  2. PRO: No interference on tacks at all
  3. PRO: Less cable needed to wire it, provided 15 meter should be plenty
  4. CON: Less range than mast mount
  5. CON: Cluttered stern, will throw balance with that much weight 10' high up
  6. CON: Will need to buy stern pole mount or have one fabricated by stainless steel guy
 

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I like mine up on the mast. It is out of the way. Buying more cable and having to climb the mast are not really valid reasons to be against placing it up there, it is a one time job. You have to buy some sort of mount either way. I don't use a 140% so don't know about that. The more stuff you have on the back of the boat the less clean air you have for your wind vane steering and the less real estate you have for other stuff that you can't mount up your mast. Shades your solar panels when stern mounted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Buying more cable and having to climb the mast are not really valid reasons to be against placing it up there, it is a one time job. You have to buy some sort of mount either way.
I'd have to buy a stern pole anyway for my wind generator (looking at a KISS right now, wife is from Trinidad and will bring it back for me). But I generally disagree with that statement above.

The Radome cost me less than $900 new from West Marine on sale. With a mast mount, you're talking about a mounting bracket/contraption ($300) and an extra length of cable from Raymarine ($200 again). Then going up the mast is a rare treat - fraught with risk of its own. It may be one time costs, but then an extra 50% in parts is a tough pill...not to mention the difficulty in diagnosing something when it goes wrong. The stern pole would be much easier to issue diagnose/repair too.
 

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Both approaches obviously work... I'd argue that the extra range from a mast mount is not a significant advantage at the speeds and the conditions that we use our radar - I've never had it on max range anyhow.

Ours is on a stern post, it's integrated into the stern railing so certainly doesn't clutter the cockpit - but my primary reason was to be able to mount the display unit at the helm, where it makes more sense to me, than below.

With a small unit like ours the post will likely weigh more than the radome, but we've had no issues with our 2" SS post fabricated by a welder/machinist friend.

We have friends with a Passport 40 currently cruising in Mexico, and a larger radome on a gimballed mast mount. For reasons not exactly clear last month the welds on the support tubes failed and the radar was barely hanging on and significantly askew. Whether this was due to the drag of the tacking headsail, or simply the motion and mileage of long distance cruising we're not sure.
 

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We have a post mount on the stern. Have never really had any issues with space, clutter, range or any of the others "cons" mentioned. I did have to extend the original cable when I relocated the display but that doesn't influence the choice.

I had a mast mount on my previous boat and had three different occasions while on a trans-ocean voyage where the drive belt on the scanner array jumped off (almost new unit). Never did discover why but once went up the mast at sea to fix and twice decided I could live without the radar until the next anchorage. It's also why I'll never have another Furuno.

As said, I have no issues with the pole mount at all and would probably do the same again next time round.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Does anyone with a stern pole mount have a wind generator attached to it as well? Care to share the pictures of the installation??!

After a standard gasoline generator (Honda EU2000), I'm planning on fitting out with a Kiss wind generator on the pole as well, followed by two 80 Watt Kyoceras on top of the bimini.
 

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Stern mount was our choice

Both approaches obviously work... I'd argue that the extra range from a mast mount is not a significant advantage at the speeds and the conditions that we use our radar - I've never had it on max range anyhow.
Hey - I do not know who Faster is, but I sure agree with him.

This is our second boat with radar, this is our second stern mount set up.

Things we considered:

  • we store our boat with the mast down - so, with stern mount, nothing to disconnect and no extra hole in the deck near the mast to possibly leak
  • we too, never use the radar on max range - except maybe to say - "see that blob 16 miles away - that's Grand Manan Island!"
  • we most often use it at 1.5 miles to 3 miles, Ya gotta watch out for all those lobster boats!
  • Did not clutter our stern at all - actually - makes a nice back rest to lean against when standing at the stern as well as something to grab onto climbing up the stern ladder
  • Gave me a place to hang extra antennas (Here is a of the mount on the last boat)

  • Being of frugal mind and empty pockets - the stern mount unit cost me less than 60 bucks total - Look at my link here
All that said, some of my best friends have mast mounts :)

Rik
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Can anyone speak to the range aspect a bit more? How much more range (both on normal and full power) can you get out of the 2kw radome when it is mounted on the mast?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
0wl,

Not to complicate things too much, but there is a third, less popular, option and that is to mount it on your backstay. AN EXAMPLE
I thought about this, but two things on my boat. Beyond the price (the scanstrut is $1400!!!), I the following worry me:

1) I have a split backstay, which may not have the wire diameter (therefore strength) to hold up the mount back there.

2) Like my feedback on mast mount, I'd like a multi-function installation that can support the radar for one, but also the wind gen. Unless someone is aware of backstay mounting brackets for wind-gens too!!!
 

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Can anyone speak to the range aspect a bit more? How much more range (both on normal and full power) can you get out of the 2kw radome when it is mounted on the mast?
Radar is line of site which means that higher is better (for line of site). There is a big dissagreement on whether a heeled boat has a significant effect on return, so I will not go there. However, in general, a mid mount is typical and what I have seen on the majority of sailboats.

THe stronger models actually give a better picture. Do they have more range? I guess. But all you will see is weather moving in since you once again are limited by LOS. However, I have not found it that much better and probably not noticeable for the typical user. Many dissagree and that is fine. Maybe if I lived in Maine I would opt for the 4kw too... maybe. For me and my application, I cannot see the expense.

I would not mount it on the stern. I strongly prefer mast mount. Also of interst is that I have never, not even once, had a jib hang on the radar. My biggest issue with mast mount is having to go the chair to fix something (which I have only had to do on Dad's boat). My biggest issue with the rail mount is actually having 2000-4000watts beaming around my mellon. Is that a real or imaginary danger? I don't know. Just bothers me.

In conclusion, put me squarely in the mast mount category.

- CD
 

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On my previous boat I installed a new radar. The problem that came up and prevented my using a mast mount was that I'd have had to pull the mast to install the wiring inside the mast. I didn't want the wiring to be attached to the outside of the mast and so it would have been necessary to pull the mast to fit everything in. That proved to be the dealbreaker and I went with a homemade laminated wood tilting backstay mount.
 

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I would not mount it on the stern. I strongly prefer mast mount. Also of interst is that I have never, not even once, had a jib hang on the radar. My biggest issue with mast mount is having to go the chair to fix something (which I have only had to do on Dad's boat). My biggest issue with the rail mount is actually having 2000-4000watts beaming around my mellon. Is that a real or imaginary danger? I don't know. Just bothers me.

In conclusion, put me squarely in the mast mount category.

- CD
Actually, it's been proven that CD's skull is thick enough that this is not a problem. :) But for the rest of us, it might be... ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm going to add a CON on the stern mount of "radiation damage while traversing on the coachroof area. Since the coachroof is 2-4 feet higher than the cockpit and walking around puts you at the same LOS as the radome, it is conceivable to me that damage is possible while underway.
 

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I'm going to add a CON on the stern mount of "radiation damage while traversing on the coachroof area. Since the coachroof is 2-4 feet higher than the cockpit and walking around puts you at the same LOS as the radome, it is conceivable to me that damage is possible while underway.
This topic was recently discussed on the C36 Association e-mail list and this issue was raised. However, most folks don't use their radar all the time, so the exposure would likely be minimal and could be avoided all together by turning off the radar or putting it on standby while crew were forward.

As other have pointed out, mounting the dome higher on the mast gives greater range but the beam width is limited so you loose coverage close to the boat which could be important entering a rip-rap lined channel in the fog. Also, masts require maintenence and sometimes get pulled. Pole mounting removes one complication from that excercise.

I thought the decision would be a slam dunk for mast mounting but the arguments were persuasive enough for me to think I'll go with a stern pole when I get around to adding radar.
 

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Advantages to the stern mast are. As mentioned a good backrest, and something to hang onto if thrown. A place to set antennas, and a boom for lowering the dink's motor. If the mast should ever come down in a storm the radar could come in handy approaching land in this same storm.....i2f

Plus your antennas would still be in place also, vhf, gps, etc. etc.
 

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I have yet to make up my mind. I have two very strong braced steel "tabs" off the end of the boat designed to take davits. I do not have davits. I do have a small deck crane and the other pad will take a wind gen pole. Throw in a windvane and it's pretty crowded back there.

My mast also pivots down and I have a pilothouse. This argues for a mast mounted radome, as the cable run is very short. However, given that I am putting in a sturdy arch to support four solar panels, I could conceivably have a radome mounted there, but I think this is too low.

I will likely choose 22 feet up or so for best range. I will certainly wait for the new radar types to come out due to the better "near definition" and improved power draws.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Mine is on one of my split backstays. Nothing is cluttered and there is no problem accessing it or the wiring if needed. Not the cheapest solution but it sure is out of the way.
$1400 for those self leveling backstay mounts...ouch! Thats labor + materials for mast mount...with room to spare. And much more to spare for a stern mount pole. Yowza
 

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I suppose the definition of clutter is relative and personal, and is affected by how you use your boat. Cruisers tend to have a lot of stuff hung off the back of their boats - antennas, MOB poles, 'horseshoes', BBQs, extra anchors, outboard motors, SCUBA bottles, wind generators, fishing gear, ladders, wind steering stuff solar panels. The radome is one of the things that works well up the mast and off the stern, so why not get it out of the way? The radiation hazard is a good point - are you always going to remember to turn it off before going up on deck and/or are your crew and possibly inebriated guests always going to mention to you that they are going to run up forward? You are responsible for their safety, and it would, to me, be sort of a nuisance to have to worry about melting somebody's fillings.

Climbing the mast, safely and with proper gear, should not be a big deal to a sailor. Not to say there isn't some stress or risk in it, but it is important to go up there with some regularity to check things out, and to be comfortable doing so. The odds of the radome breaking are slim. Most of these things are using tried and true and debugged technology. It would be a bummer to have it fail offshore and to have to climb the mast in snotty conditions, but it might not be so much fun trying to get it off of the stern pole, either, if conditions were bad and you are working around wind generators, solar panels, archs, antennas, davits, dingys flopping around, biminis, etc. Bad luck, Omatako. My Furuno back lighting display failed on my 3 y/o old out of warranty unit, I carried it home from Mexico, shipped it to them, they fixed it for free and shipped it back to me for free. I love 'em!

Your use of the boat will dictate whether having the radome up high to see squalls or freighters or cruise ships approaching from far away is more important than seeing something in a rip-rap channel. For my cruising type of sailing, I'd rather see land or freighters or squalls further away, especially if I am flipping it in and out of standby with some miles in between looks. Freighters and navy gun boats and cruise ships moving at 30+ knots come up on you pretty fast, and if you see fishing boats and you suspect they have nets out you can make a better easier angle to miss the nets from further away. Mine is up the mast and my display is in my cockpit, under the dodger, starboard of the companionway hatch. Works fine for viewing from behind the wheel. I've never noticed whether my headsail comes close to the radome, but never had any issues.

And, frankly, my own personal bias is that it just looks better, more seamanshiplike, up there on the mast.

Faster, which P40 do you know in Mexico?
 
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