by Gordon West

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

Fix a Misleading Sonar

by Gordon West, Posted July 1, 2013
We just returned from cruising the Bahamas and were intrigued to see that our new Si-Tex CBS-128 color sounder/sonar unit regularly showed a thin orange blanket of fish hanging above a sandy bottom about 50 feet down. My kids kept trying, but couldn’t catch a thing! This happened regularly throughout our trip.
My docked vessel has lately been attracting dead fish! I seem to be the only one around who has this smelly problem. I recently had my corrosion-control system refurbished. Could this be the cause?

Ask Sail: Zinc-Air Batteries

by Gordon West, Posted February 14, 2013
I am racing an ultralight sailboat in a three-day regatta. I am counting every ounce that comes on board, and a conventional wet-cell or AGM battery will put me over my weight limit. Is there any new battery technology I can use?
It looks like I can save some money by buying an EPIRB without a built-in GPS receiver. How important is GPS capability for 406-MHz EPIRB signaling?

Ask Sail: So Many Numbers

by Gordon West, Posted December 13, 2012
I recently purchased a used Hunter with VHF and SSB radios installed, both with MMSI numbers pre-memorized. To prepare for a bluewater cruise I am now installing an AIS transponder, and the technician has asked for another MMSI number. What should I do?
I just bought a new 25-watt VHF radio with a built-in AIS receiver. I began seeing AIS targets right off the bat, but got no graphic or numerical information as to their location in relation to me.

Ask Sail: Dueling Sensors

by Gordon West, Posted October 30, 2012
I am an avid weather watcher, and I’ve found some extra uses for my wireless temperature sensors. I’ve got one in the reefer, one near the engine and one to monitor the air conditioning.
When I’m at sea and at anchor, my audio system plays great, and my new digital TV converter gives me great HD reception on my new HD LCD screen.  But at the dock I get a loud hum on my audio system, and my over-the-air reception “breaks apart” on most of my favorite TV stations. What gives?

Ask Sail: AIS Antenna

by Gordon West, Posted February 1, 2012
I’m ready to install AIS on my boat. I also need a new VHF radio with digital selective calling (DSC). Will this equipment work with my current Shakespeare masthead VHF antenna?  

Radar on High

by Gordon West, Posted August 24, 2011
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
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