Ask Sail

Radar on High

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Ron Hall of Aberdeen, Maryland, asks:

"My radar antenna is currently on a pedestal at the transom. If I mount it instead way up on the front of my mast, will its range be dramatically improved? Also, will the mast interfere with target detection directly behind the antenna?"

Gordon West replies:

The radar range horizon for a pedestal-mounted antenna 9 feet off the water is about 3 miles to a small buoy. Elevating the antenna up to 25 feet will only give you about two more miles of small-buoy range. Your ability to detect other boats would also improve slightly. There should not be a dead spot aft with the antenna on the front of the mast.

One way to improve the range of the radar antenna on your current pedestal is to put the antenna on a gimbaled mount. This keeps it level when the boat is heeled, and you will certainly notice an improvement in performance.

Also, if you clean all the salt off the antenna’s radome cover you’ll probably pick up an extra mile of small target detection. Be sure the radar is off when you’re doing this!

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