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Just a note re metal verses carbon fiber mast - carbon fiber is no better - it also is a conductor and will interfere with the radio. Now how much I am not sure but I wouldn't be concerned on my own boat If the SWR (standing wavw ratio) was within limits for the radio.
 

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I have a friend who is responsible for the electronics on many of the Coast Guard ships. He tells me that the signal loss getting to the top of the mast is so great we would be better off mounting the antenna at deck level.

It seems counter intuitive but I would like to see some one runs some tests, which would not be that hard to do.
Your friend is mistaken. Nothing beats putting the antenna higher.
 
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