by Gordon West

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

Wet and Worried

by Gordon West, Posted June 20, 2009
J. Hillier of Sausalito, California, asks:"I bought what I thought was a waterproof handheld VHF radio, but when I dropped it in some water in the bottom of my inflatable it died. It was only in the water for a few seconds before I picked it up, and even though it did work for about two hours it went dead after that. What do those specifications really mean?"

See Dog

by Gordon West, Posted May 20, 2009
Jack Hammond of North Carolina, asks:"Reception was good on my analog TV using a Shakespeare SeaWatch 2025 amplified omni-directional masthead antenna. But I’ve been told the new digital converter box won’t work with this antenna and that I should get a new TV. Is this right?"Gordon West replies:The antenna is fine but make sure the converter

Spot on

by Gordon West, Posted April 14, 2009
R. Staats, of Neha Bay, Washington, asks:"Have you tested the new SPOT portable position transponder? If so, is it living up to all the hype it has received?"Gordon West replies: Yes, I have tested it, and so far it has worked well for me. This $150 transponder provides reliable status signaling through 48 Globalstar low-earth-orbit

Come in, Calcutta

by Gordon West, Posted March 11, 2009
Don Arnold of Chattanooga, Tennessee, asks:"My local marine-electronics dealer tells me that marine SSB and ham radio are outdated and that I should use a satellite phone. What do you think?"Gordon West replies: There’s no question that a sat phone is a very handy device. But the advantage of radio is that since SSB signals bounce off the

Wireless Mousetrap

by Gordon West, Posted January 20, 2009
Tom Gilbert of Jensen Beach, Florida, asks:"I'm about to install Wi-Fi on my boat so I can use my laptop when I'm in the harbor. I think a 14-element YAGI, such as the RL/WAVRVMAR or the RL/14ele2.4wp, would be good units I can aim, set, and receive. However, other people tell me that an omnidirectional antenna is the answer. Which is the better

VHF Echoes

by Gordon West, Posted December 22, 2008
Warren Updike of Towson, Maryland, asks:"My Simrad RS8300 VHF has two full-function handsets. The VHF is a black-box type with a DSC class-C transceiver that is about 15 years old; it’s mounted behind a panel in the main saloon. The receiver is very sensitive and very easy to use. The transceiver interfaces with my Raymarine ST-50 GPS, which is mounted nearby. My AM/FM

Somewhere Over There

by Gordon West, Posted December 3, 2008
Bernard Hall of San Diego, California, asks:"This past summer I routinely heard U.S. Coast Guard VHF transmissions made from hundreds of miles away. Is there something peculiar about my VHF installation, or is the reception the result of something else?"Gordon West replies: It’s clear that your installation was done very well, but chances are

Silent Night

by Gordon West, Posted November 24, 2008
"My boat is the only one in the fleet that can’t hear Herb Hilgenberg’s Atlantic weather report on SSB. Even though I turn off my circuit breakers before I tune in, I still get noises that affect my reception. I had a technician come aboard, and when he disconnected my batteries from the circuit he could hear Herb’s transmissions loud and clear on his portable SSB. But when he reattached the DC

Loud and clear

by Gordon West, Posted October 20, 2008
How much VHF signal strength will I lose if I put a coaxial cable disconnect assembly at the base of my mast? I want to eliminate the hassle of having to pull out the cable every time I step or unstep the mast, and this seems like a good solution.-- Dennis Thompson , Annapolis, MarylandGordon West replies : If you can be sure the coax disconnect assembly

Better to be seen

by Gordon West, Posted July 20, 2008
"I have a 28-foot boat with a fractional rig. I’m thinking about mounting a radar reflector on the leading edge of the mast between the forestay and the masthead. Is this a good idea?"-- Dave Adams, Newington, ConnecticutGordon West replies: Having a radar reflector is always a good idea; it can increase your boat’s target visibility by up to 6 miles.
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