Antennae250At least one marine electronics dealer we interviewed said your VHF antenna was an item that should be replaced annually. Ken Harrison at Summerhill.ca on the other hand, said that a good antenna should last 5 to 8 years (depending on whether or not it was used as a grab handle)!

One manufacturer told us that 80% of all VHF problems are antenna related. Everyone agreed that the antenna and cabling was the greatest factor limiting the performance of your VHF radio. Alan Stovell at Western Marine Distributors and Transat made the sage comment that, “…the antenna was the ‘low price football’ in many VHF radio deals.”

This is not hard to understand. Buyers search out and are “sold” by the radio’s features and quality. The antenna is a low interest item and the cable gets barely a second thought from many boaters. They are just necessary pieces in the deal. And hey! What can possibly go wrong with an antenna?

Well, it turns out that there are several potential points of failure. The wiring inside the actual antenna can be damaged or broken and that limits or ends the signal. The internal connections are relatively delicate and pounding over waves, whacking an overhead obstruction, banging on the gunwhale during trailering and, of course, when someone uses it as a grab bar, all can cause failure. So can water or moisture intrusion, especially in salt water.

Buying a better bracket is an excellent investment in preventing your antenna from vibration fatigue. One distributor told us that yellow plastic has no ultraviolet inhibitors so it will become brittle overtime. Stainless steel will stand up the best for brackets. Using the shortest cable can enhance performance but it takes an expert installer to shorten a cable and add a connector with “factory” precision.

Antennas generally all look the same but reliability and long-life directly traces back to the quality of construction. Features like strong mechanical joints and having the radiator and electrical elements encased in a fiberglass rod all improve quality. The element inside the antenna is always slowly corroding, so you're losing performance at all times.

Silver-plated elements and gold-plated connections ward off corrosion. Antennas with foam filling greatly reduce or eliminate vibration that causes fatigue and wire damage or moisture intrusion. Top quality antennas are sometimes finished in an epoxy for maximum UV resistance.

Height is the most important factor in getting the greatest range, so choose an antenna that can be placed as high as possible. Antennas on sailboats can be a 3-foot to 5-foot antenna mounted on the masthead. Powerboats 16 to 25 feet in length generally use a standard 8-foot antenna while larger vessels can support larger antennas that can offer greater “gain”.

Gain is a rating stated in decibels [dB]. Generally, the higher the gain, the greater the communicating range. However, the higher the gain, the more compressed the beam width becomes. A 3 dB pattern is sort of round shaped and easy to receive while the 6 dB and 9 dB antennas have successively narrower patterns that travel further but can cause fading in rolling seas. Small boats, which will roll excessively in heavy seas, normally do not use a gain rating above 6 dB. Consult your dealer for the best option.

The same advice goes for cable. Better cable lasts longer and suffers lower losses while often being more UV stable. Low-end friction-fit connectors can work loose. Look for more durable solder-fit connectors. One expert advised us that regular boat maintenance means check and replace your VHF cable every three years.

By spending only a few dollars more you get a far better antenna. By spending only 25 to 30% more than the cheapest antennas [which are as little as $50 anyway] you get a dramatically better product.

Since many factors influence the selection of a proper antenna, we encourage consultation with your dealer.

Destinations

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At the 2019 Vancouver International Boat Show I had the pleasure of meeting up with Allyson and ...
Following the harsh impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, The British Virgin Islands is making an ...
For the adventurous boater Bunsby Marine Provincial Park is a special place, situated due south of ...
There is good anchoring in Cowichan Bay and nearby, and salt water enough to make any boater happy. ...
We’re gliding through green-blue waters, colours so vivid and bright they hurt your eyes. We’re set ...
The Halifax waterfront has been attracting more and more large yachts in recent years. However, a ...
Ah Canadian simplicity at its finest; small town, big marina. Little Hilton Beach (population ...
Vancouver-based Big Blue Yacht Charters Worldwide owner Emma Murdoch explains that luxury crewed ...
In the 1920s, a small cove in Canoe Bay was used as a shipping point and safe-haven for rum runners ...
Here’s an update from Caroline Swann with some news for the adventurous types who may be heading to ...


The Marina at Blind ChannelOne of my favourite places

By Marianne Scott

Sailing north of Desolation Sound, the Discovery Islands and the Broughton Archipelago offer cruisers a bevy islands with ample anchorages. Tides cause swift currents to run through the islands’ waterways. Few marinas are found in this large, sparsely populated region but one that provides all the services boaters need and especially enjoy is Blind Channel, a marina and resort operated by the Richter family located on Mayne Passage on the east side of West Thurlow Island (50 24. 82N, 125 30. 00).

Read more about the Blind Channel Resort...

 

Lifestyle

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At the end of last month, Canadian sailors gathered on the Palma Beach in Palma de Mallorca, Spain ...
In 2019, C-TOW celebrates its 35th anniversary of providing 24/7 “Peace of Mind Boating” for ...
West Vancouver Yacht Club reports that following an independent certification process the Georgia ...
It has been hot in the Abacos this winter. Whoever said this area was cool this time of year must ...
Unfortunately this is not a picture from a boat but was taken on the evening of February 27, 2019 ...
On March 1, Tom Ramshaw of Stoney Lake Yacht Club was honoured with the most prestigious National ...
Vero Beach, aka Velcro Beach, lived up to its reputation again. Our original plan was to be there ...
My husband and I were visiting the Bra d'Or Lake from Newfoundland in our 39 foot Sea Ray ...
After an autumn in Canada, we arrived back in northern Florida at Adamant 1 on January 3rd and with ...
This issue, to kick off 2019, we have an unofficial Photo of the week and this, the unofficial ...

Boat Reviews

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ILCA is seeking new builders to complement its existing network of manufacturers, the International ...
Nelson Gilbert (1854-1921) began building canoes in Brockville in the 1890s, a time when the sport ...
I have heard a lot of talk lately about trends in yacht clubs where senior membership is getting ...
To get you in the mood for cruising the Boat Show then launching in spring, here’s a boat that ...
Quite simply, the styles of boats have changed. Where in past years a buyer might have been looking ...
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the ...
Tactical Custom Boats announces the sale to a North American client of a custom Tactical 77’ – Fast ...
Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...
One often asks of a winning achievement or a fabulous design, could it have possibly been done ...

Swift Trawler 47By Andy Adams

You might look at the pictures of the new Beneteau Swift Trawler 47 and think that this is not a “performance boat”, but I think it certainly is, and here is why; it can top out at 30 mph to get you from A to B quickly or to beat the weather in, so it’s pretty fast, but it can also loaf along doing 1,250 rpm making 9.3 mph and at that pace, it travels 2.4 miles on a gallon of fuel. That’s great performance in my books!

With a light displacement of almost 28,000 lbs, this is a big boat. In fact, it looks and feels more like a small ship than a big boat.

Read more about the Swift Trawler 47......

 

Beneteau Oceanis 46.1By Andy Adams and John Armstrong

Beneteau Oceanis 46.1When Beneteau introduced their new Oceanis 46.1, they were inspired by the fact that their previous Oceanis 45 was one of Beneteau’s best sellers and the new 46.1 had to be a clearly superior boat. The Oceanis range is about space and comfort for cruising while still delivering strong performance.

The yachting world has now recognized the Oceanis 46.1 as being just such a worthy successor. On January 19th, 2019, the Oceanis 46.1 won the highly regarded title of European Yacht of the Year in the “Family Cruiser” category.

Read More about the Oceanis 46.1......

Marine Products

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The Walker Bay Venture 14 claims to be the world’s first luxury Explorer Sport Tender. It is ...
Mercury Marine is pleased to announce the launch of the new MerCruiser V8 6.2L 370hp Jet Ready ...
My history with the Cayenne goes back many years, as I was at the launch of the original vehicle ...
Last month, Mercury Marine has announced the launch of the 400hp Verado outboard engine, the ...
Featuring advanced, intuitive 3D controls, Zipwake Dynamic Trim Control Systems deliver a more ...
Gina de Vere approached me at the Canadian Yachting booth at this year’s Vancouver International ...
A revolutionary “assisted docking” system that provides a glimpse into the future of boating ...
After developing the Figaro Beneteau 3, the first production foiling sailing yacht, Groupe Beneteau ...
You most likely operate your vessel with batteries that are rechargeable. Rechargeable batteries ...
This past decade has been a real up-and-down ride for the companies who make boating equipment. ...