by Gordon West

Long-time SAIL contributor Gordon West is a nationally recognized expert and educator specializing in radio communications

Wet Batteries

by Gordon West, Posted July 22, 2014
I recently purchased a handheld battery-operated GPS chartplotter. I was told it could survive 30 minutes in a couple of feet of seawater. But once when landing the dinghy on a beach, I jumped out too soon with the GPS in my pocket.

Two AIS Numbers

by Gordon West, Posted June 18, 2014
I have a Boat U.S.-issued MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identity) number for my VHF radio, and now I’m adding a Garmin AIS 600 Class B transponder.

Ask SAIL: Scrub or Paint?

by Gordon West, Posted April 25, 2014
I plan to haul out soon, and I am at a port where they let me work on the hull myself. Should I leave my underwater depthsounder transducer scrubbed clean...
When I have guests aboard for a weekend my autopilot just can’t keep a straight course. With any seas, it continuously ...
We are cruising to the Bahamas this winter, and I plan to use my dinghy to explore safe passages through local reefs. I’d like to use a depthsounder and GPS chartplotter to do this, but don’t want to carry a heavy battery in my dink to run electronics for a couple of hours. Any suggestions?
I am going to install a satellite TV aboard my boat for a long cruise from Seattle down to Puerto Vallarta in Mexico. Will Direct TV work all the way from here to there?

Ask Sail: MMSI Numbers

by Gordon West, Posted January 21, 2014
I just purchased an ocean-going sailboat at a foreclosure sale and will soon install an SSB radio and an AIS transponder. The existing VHF radio is tied into the GPS receiver, and there is an existing maritime mobile ship identity (MMSI) number that comes up on the VHF display when I turn it on.

Ask SAIL: Stereo Trouble

by Gordon West, Posted November 7, 2013
I just installed an Aquatic AV AM/FM/MP3 receiver and was careful to keep the stereo speakers from affecting my steering compass. The stereo system works great when we play the FM radio or when the kids play their devices through it, but I can’t pick up my ballgames on the AM radio. I can hear them fine with a portable radio up on deck. Any ideas
I heard the Coast Guard will no longer be monitoring distress frequencies for marine SSB radios. How can we get help when beyond VHF range?
What’s the latest on LED lighting strips? I’ve noticed a boat in our marina that has a pair of strips mounted in its cockpit, and they look pretty cool!
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