Ask SAIL: Radar Antenna Location

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A higher radar location will increase range, but isn’t absolutely necessary

A higher radar location will increase range, but isn’t absolutely necessary

Q: I have a 40ft Pearson with a 24-mile radar antenna installed on the radar arch aft. I am concerned that I could be missing medium-range targets beyond eight to 10 miles away. Should I have the antenna moved to the mast, 10ft higher than where it is now?

— Jack Crawford, Oceanside, CA

GORDON WEST REPLIES

Your current elevated radar antenna would see to the horizon water level about four miles away, plenty of room to detect and maneuver around, say, a small fishing boat. Similarly, your radar range to a headland or cruise ship would be about 12 miles in addition to your four miles to the horizon. Again, lots of room to detect major landfalls or cruise ships! Adding an additional 10ft in antenna elevation would only gain you one more mile of fishing boat target detection, but would put a good dent in your wallet with the re-install efforts. Something I would recommend (with the radar absolutely turned OFF at the circuit breaker) is that you take some soapy water and clean off all the salt buildup on the outer white radome. After that, apply a coat of hull wax to help minimize future salt buildup and then play “radar games” to see what you see on the screen and what you can barely spot with your eyes at night, thereby honing your skills. Adjust the gain to just the point that you see the rotating trace leave a slight “wake” as it rotates around on your radar screen down below.

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