Quiet Connector - Sail Magazine

Quiet Connector

My wife, Gail, and I recently installed a new radar antenna on the keel-stepped mast of our Bristol 38.8. The first part of the installation was easy. We mounted the receiver and then, using a weighted string as a messenger, pulled the cables through a small hole in the mast near the unit all the way down to the bottom, The difficult part—figuring out a way to keep the cables from slapping
Author:
Publish date:

My wife, Gail, and I recently installed a new radar antenna on the keel-stepped mast of our Bristol 38.8. The first part of the installation was easy. We mounted the receiver and then, using a weighted string as a messenger, pulled the cables through a small hole in the mast near the unit all the way down to the bottom, The difficult part—figuring out a way to keep the cables from slapping against the inside of the mast when the boat rocked—came next. It was also an essential part; mast slap could, Gail intimated, very well end our cruising life together.

HR1-081000-KHtech-boat

My first idea was to install a cluster of wire ties every foot or so along the cable, but it didn’t work. I should mention that the traditional solution is to take the mast out of the boat, then run the cables through PVC pipe and attach the PVC to the mast with rivets. This can be an expensive undertaking; the cost can easily exceed that of the new radar set. In fact, the estimates we received ran several thousand dollars.

I was aware of problems with this arrangement. One is that the tubes can come loose, making the problem much worse; it happened to at least two boats we’ve met in our travels. A second problem is that it’s a one-shot fix; in most cases you can’t install any additional cables without running more pipes. Many of our cruising friends had decided they would live with the noise, but that wouldn’t work for us. Finally I came up with a solution I think is robust, can accommodate additional cables, and, best of all, took me only half an hour to install. I might add that it looks pretty professional.

The parts I used were a #8 threaded stainless-steel rod about 20 inches long, a small stainless eye strap—any finished metal backing plate would work—about 2 inches in length, some washers and nuts, and two Nyloc cap nuts. I bent one end of the rod into the shape of a rounded U-bolt and made sure the final shape would fit in the holes in the eye strap. I then wrapped the threads of the bolt with electrical tape to prevent chafe.

I experimented with various U shapes until I got one that would hold the cables snugly against the inside of the mast. It’s important that the rod not grab the cables too tightly because they could be damaged when the locking nuts on the outside of the mast that secure the rod are tightened. As with a PVC installation, the cables can move a little without making noise. Depending on the mast section, it may be helpful to make a template of the mast section and use it to create a shape that will provide the proper clearance for the cables after the locking nuts have been tightened.

Shaping the stainless rod is pretty straightforward; I heated it to red hot with a small butane torch before I bent it. If you don’t, it will break. Next, using the external eye strap as the template, I drilled two small holes in the mast and then fished the U-bolt section of the rod into one of the holes. Heeling the boat slightly made it easier to hook the problem cable; I held onto the long end of the U-bolt while I maneuvered the short end of the U-bolt back out through the second hole in the mast.

Related

daviscards

Davis Instruments: Quick Reference Cards

CHECK THESEIf you’re sailing with new crew this summer or your kids have suddenly and inexplicably started to look up from their phones and take an interest in the finer points of cruising, these Quick Reference Cards from Davis are a great way to further their boating education. ...read more

01-rbir18-596

Another Epic Round Britain Race

There are basically two kinds of offshore sailboat races out there: those that take place annually, like the Fastnet and Chicago-to-Mackinac races; and those that take place every other year, like the Transpac and Newport-Bermuda race, in part so the competitors have sufficient ...read more

01b_WALKING-KEDGE-OUT-cmykpromo

Getting More Use From Kedge Anchors

If you are cruising, you need at least two anchors on board for the simple reason that you must have a backup. Imagine having to slip your anchor on a stormy night with other boats dragging down on yours, or having your rope rode severed by some unseen underwater obstacle, ...read more

SailAwayCharter

How-to: Navigating on a Bareboat Charter

So you graduated from navigation class where you practiced dead reckoning, doubling the angle on the bow and maybe even celestial nav, and you now feel well prepared for your first charter trip. Well, you won’t be doing any of that on vacation—not past the first day, anyway.Most ...read more

04-Turtle-rescue

Turtle Rescue in the Vic-Maui

Strange and often wonderful things can happen in the course of an offshore sailboat race, and one of the strangest and most wonderful things we’ve heard of recently took place during the 2,300-mile 2018 Vic-Maui race, from Victoria, British Columbia, to Lahaina, Hawaii.It ...read more

dorcap-open-blue

ATN Inc: Dorcap

COOL SLEEPYou’re fast asleep in a snug anchorage, forehatch open to catch the breeze, when you’re rudely awakened by a sneaky rain squall. Now you’re not only awake and wet, you’re sweltering with the hatch closed. Sucks, right? That’s why ATN came up with the Dorcap, an ...read more

HIGH-RES-29312-Tahiti-GSP

Ask Sail: Who has the right-of-way

WHO HAS RIGHT-OF-WAY?Q: I sail in Narragansett Bay, which is a relatively narrow body of water that has upwind boats generally going south and downwind boats generally going north. When sailboats are racing, the starboard tack boat has the right-of-way over the port tack boat, so ...read more