by Gordon West

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

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

New Directions

by Gordon West, Posted July 22, 2011
Dave Stillerz of San Francisco, California, asks:"I recently installed some new tanks aboard my older wooden sailboat, and now my automatic pilot won’t keep me on a steady course. Any ideas?"Gordon West replies:Sounds like your new tanks are metal and your pilot’s fluxgate heading sensor is mounted nearby. Reposition the fluxgate compass away

Freeze Frame

by Gordon West, Posted June 22, 2011
Dean Hall of Anacortes, Washington, asks:"I enjoy watching TV broadcasts from our local PBS station while aboard my boat. When they switched from analog to digital signals, I added a small digital converter to my set. I do get reception, but with some freeze frames. Any suggestions?"Gordon West replies:If the freeze frames are occurring

One MMSI For All?

by Gordon West, Posted May 22, 2011
Ben Hatheway of Coos Bay, Oregon, asks:"The VHF and SSB radios on my boat share the same Maritime Mobile Service Identity number. I recently purchased a new marine VHF handheld with DSC capability, and I’m wondering if my new handheld, which is sometimes off the boat, should have a different MMSI number."Gordon West replies:This very
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