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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings Everyone.

I am a new owner of a "not so new" Catalina 22!
Just joined Sailnet, and this is my first post!

I have a question for all of my fellow sailors out there regarding the location of the VHF antenna.

First let me say that currently there must be something wrong with the current connection.
I do not receive any signal on the VHF radio nor can I transmit.
I do know however that the VHF radio is working correctly as it works just fine when I plug my emergency Shakespeare VHF antenna into it.

The antenna, as is typical on most Sailboats, is located at the top of the mast.
So the issue must be with the antenna, the cable, and connectors somewhere along the signal path.

I have owned a couple of smaller sailboats in the past, and have always had issues in one way or another with getting this kind of setup to work reliably. I fix it, it works for a season or so and then something goes wrong again! With the mast up, I find it very difficult to diagnose and fix such problems especially having to climb the mast!

I now am resigned to the idea of locating the antenna utilizing a rail mount, and mounting it on the stern pulpit rail.

I am aware that this is not the best location for the VHF antenna, as the range will greatly be affected.....but is it not better to have a working system that is far more reliable and is easily accessible in case of malfunction??

Also, is locating my new VHF antenna on the stern rail some sort newb thing to do?
Will other sailors chuckle to themselves as our boats pass at the very site of my 6 foot Shakespeare whip? :) Is this a very "power boater" thing to do? :wink

I would greatly appreciate any and all advice and insight you may have in this matter.

Many Thanks
Mark
....
..

:cut_out_animated_em
 

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Stern mount won’t give you much range.
I would redo antennae coax cable and solder the connections
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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With all due respect to the people that insist that you have to have your VHF at the top of the mast; Just like every power boat near me, I have my VHF and AIS antennas on the stern rail. They work fine AND I can troubleshoot/replace either of them if there is any problem (I carry a spare). 100% of my VHF communications to date (over 15 years) have been at ranges of less than 2 miles (calling a tug to see if he has a tow, calling a marina to see if they have room, inquiring the intentions of the oil carrier bearing down on me in the channel, etc.). I get over 13 miles of range with no problem. If I need more range I use my cellphone. I am not crossing to the Azores, and if I were, I would invest in an SSB or Sat Phone.
 

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I consider a VHF radio to be a safety device and as such want as much range as possible from it. Cell phone signal typically doesn't go that far offshore so for me it's a compromise between nothing at all and an SSB. If I am day sailing which is what I mainly do I hardly ever use the VHF but I am of the opinion it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
 

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Hello,

Where do you boat and what do you use the VHF for? Personally, I haven't used my fixed mount VHF in years. I have a hand held that I use just about all of the time. If I NEEDED 20 mile range I would fix the fixed antenna. If you need to hail a near by marina, or work out a passing of a near by boat I would just get a $100 hand held and be done with it.

I do have a fancy Simrad fixed mount VHF with DSC and AIS receive. It's great to receive AIS information and send it to my plotter. I have the radio handset below at the nav station and a wireless handset at the cockpit. I CAN make and receive DSC calls (but never have). The only radio calls I have made in the last 5 or so years have been on my handheld.


Barry
 

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My understanding is that boaters are supposed to monitor CH 16 so that they could respond to or possibly relay a Mayday call. A short range hand held radio would not be the best for this. I also wonder how many of these portable units are turned off most of the time to preserve battery power.
Small boats tend to become cluttered fast enough, another antenna would only add to this.
 

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I recently removed my masthead antena in favor of a stern mounted mast. The antenna was about ~35 feet above the water, now it is ~15. The COAX up the mast was shot and I'm loathe to climb the mast to check and troubleshoot the antenna every year. A configuration within easy reach is the best solution for me.

I don't go offshore in this boat so I don't need to maximize my range. In this configuration I can talk to the USCG from about 20-25 miles (the St Pete antenna is at least 100'), and other boats at ~10 miles depending on their configuration (of course other conditions will influence this as well). More than adequate for the sailing I do.

As far as responding to distress calls... My best sustained speed under power in ideal conditions is ~5kts, meaning with my current configuration my response time is ~two hours. Unless the distress is happening near by, other faster boats will be there long before I and my effort is best applied to making sure the call is relayed if necessary.

You can use this calculator to get an idea of your range. Remember to add the height of both antennas to get a proper line of sight.

https://www.everythingrf.com/rf-calculators/line-of-sight-calculator
 

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My understanding is that boaters are supposed to monitor CH 16 so that they could respond to or possibly relay a Mayday call. A short range hand held radio would not be the best for this. .
In the US, one is only required to monitor Ch16, if they have a VHF radio aboard. For recreational boats, one is not absolutely required. Stupid not to have one, but that's the rule, so nothing prevents having a handheld.

As for monitoring, I've needed to resort to the handheld more than once, when the ships VHF acted up. A charged battery last all day, unless it has a gps receiver. A 12v plug in the cockpit can be useful to just leave it charging. It receives just fine. Transmission distance is handicapped by transmission wattage as much, if not more than, antenna height. They transmit far enough to deal with any conflicting traffic. To your point, you may not be relaying a mayday very easily.
 

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....Also, is locating my new VHF antenna on the stern rail some sort newb thing to do?....
No, not really a newb thing. It may be a matter of personal preference not to clutter up the rail. It may look odd to have both, if you just abandon the mast antenna, but I doubt anyone would notice. Personally, I do not like having abandon wiring aboard, so the effort to remove it doesn't strike me as much different from the effort to replace it.

If you already have an antenna wire going up the mast, you effectively have a messenger to pull the replacement. I doubt I'd climb the mast on a 22ft. I wonder, with a little ingenuity and a strong halyard and come-along, whether you could even pull it over to a high point somewhere. Do this at your own risk. :)
 

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Probably depends on how you use your VHF. The potential range of a VHF antenna is proportionate to its height and the height of the receiving antenna.

I mostly just use my VHF for receiving weather reports, which are transmitting off pretty tall towers and calling marinas and lock stations. My boat is small and I don't often venture more than a few miles from shore. For my purposes I find a 5 watt handheld works, which would be an antenna height of probably about 5 or 6 feet in most cases. Your rail antenna with a 25 watt transmitter would certainly have better range than the set up I have on my 21 foot boat.

I also carry a 406 PLB and a SPOT for distress signaling.

It's up to you, you know how you use your VHF.
 

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Someone correct me if I am wrong, but, I believe you would not want to use the 6' antenna. Those are intended for powerboats that will be on the level. The 3' antennae have wider lobes of signal radiation than the 6'. When you are heeled over, the 6' antenna will have maximal power directed toward the water and the sky.
 

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Hard to argue against having a fixed mount VHF and a good handheld one.
Depends where and how he sails. It's a little trailer sailer. Might be on an inland lake.

Would be a pretty useless expenditure most of the places I sail because there is no one to talk to. Which is why I have 2 methods of satellite signaling instead.
 

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There are an infinite number of modifications and repairs required on a sailboat. This one has come up before with the same puzzling results. Several solutions offered that are all less effective than the original high mount antenna. The justification seems to be that repairing or installing a mast top antenna is such an enormous task that it is best to avoid it. Replace the rigging and re-bed the keel, no big deal; but do not attempt to replace that coaxial fitting on the antenna at any cost.
 

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Helps to understand the db rating and why. If you are limited to a handheld at least hold it so that little miny antenna is vertical.
 

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3ft antenna is for masthead, 6ft whips are for stern rails. I put a stern rail mounted VHF 6 foot on my 32 ft boat on an inland lake, I can reach all 3 lakewatch stations, roughly 10 miles reach.

Also good idea to have a handheld as a backup, preferably that uses AA batteries, and keep sealed AA batteries on hand.

But, if you already have the antenna on top of your Cat 22, drop the mast, replace the antenna, resolder the connections, put mast back up. The 22 has like a 30lb mast.
 

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Many of us carry a backup antenna and temporary stern rail mount incase of problems exactly like the OP is experiencing. On a 22' boat, stepping vs. going up is the likely choice, at least that's how we did it when we started on a boat about that size. Some 22's you can rig and self step without help from a yard crane, just be careful you don't drop the mast on someone's head. Don't ask me how I know.

That said, new to me, getting started, etc., if I was the OP I'd put it on the stern rail and go sailing and get some experience with the "new to me boat." Then I'd plan my upgrades, that might involve fixing the antenna on the mast and coax running up the stick. Don't let making it perfect get in the way of building experience.

Remember when you are getting advice here, it comes from people using their boats all kinds of different ways. Cape horn to a lake, or at least imagined cape horn. I suspect with a new to you 22' boat, it's likely you are staying relatively close to home at first and building experience as you go. Good luck!
 

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On my last boat I had a 3ft antenna mounted on the pulpit and it worked fine for my purposes. I could recieve signals from many miles away. Much farther than was relevant to us. We only ever broadcast on low power and never had a problem making contact.

Unless you are travelling offshore, which you likely are not doing on a Catalina 22, you don't need to worry about getting maximum possible range.

Sent from my SM-G960W using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks to everyone for your replies.
I guess for now I will continue with the vhf antenna on the stern rail.
I am getting excellent reception and seem to be able to transmit at least 15 miles. Which is plenty far for my type of sailing.(I mainly sail the Golden Horseshoe area and North shore of Lake Ontario. )
It seems to be a very reliable setup. (it;s nice to have something that`s operational when you really need it)
I have invested in an ICOM Handheld VHF as well, as many of you suggested. It`s great as a backup ,etc.
Thanks again for all the advice, I am very grateful :)
Happy Sailing,
Mark
 
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