by Gordon West

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

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

Rescue 21

by Gordon West, Posted May 9, 2011
First the good news. Throughout most of the continental United States, calling the Coast Guard on your marine VHF radio now ties you into one of the most modern marine radio networks in use anywhere on Earth. As of November 2010, the 26 Sector Command Centers in the Coast Guard’s Rescue 21 radio network can monitor transmissions along nearly 37,000 miles of coastline.

Don't Get Zapped

by Gordon West, Posted April 14, 2011
John A. Moore of Punta Gorda, Florida, asks:"Is it true that putting portable electronics like GPS receivers, EPIRBs and handheld radios in the ship’s oven will protect their circuitry in the event of a direct lightning strike?"Gordon West replies:Your ship’s oven will, in fact, act like a Faraday cage, and if properly grounded, most anything

Transducer Tricks

by Gordon West, Posted March 8, 2011
Brian Naznitsky of Kings Park, New York, asks:"I recently purchased a depthsounder and want to mount its transducer inside the hull of my boat. The manufacturer recommends I flood my bilge and move the transducer to different positions, temporarily holding it in place with a bag filled with sand, until I find the best spot to permanently mount it. Filling the very slack

VHF Frequency Confusion

by Gordon West, Posted January 25, 2011
Tom Kamlowsky of Salt Lake City, Utah, asks:"While sailing in San Francisco Bay last month, I contacted the Coast Guard on VHF channel 16. On receiving my call, the Coast Guard radio operator asked me to change frequency to channel 22. I changed both my Icom M304 and M34 radios to channel 22 and quickly found that I could not use the M34 because of interference from a
  • facebook
  • twitter