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Old 11-12-2010, 22:51   #1
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Height of a Power Boat's Radio Mast ?

I'm still in the dreaming phase. I'm dreaming of a trawler type power cruiser, somewhere between 40 and 50 foot long. I would likly use it along the Texas Coast, but probably would make it over to Flordia, and then maybe down the Islands, or I might decide to try the "Great Loop". It's lovly to be a dreamer, as you can dream anything!

Looking through everyone's favorate website, I find a wide range in radio mast heigths. I would assume you'd put your VHF, cell phone, and possibly TV antenna up there.

How high is "about right"?

My gut says "as high as possible".

However, IIRC, the Intercostal has a bridge heigth of 65 feet. Much of the "Great Loop" has even lower bridges, some as low as 15 feet.

To me that suggests that I might want a radio mast that would extend up 65 feet above the water to the top of something fixed, to the top of the antenna might be a little higher, if the antennas are flexable. But I'd want something that I could lower fairly easily if I wanted to do the Great Loop.

I would assume that a power vessels mast would be a reletivly light, and easy to take down affair.

Thoughts?
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Old 12-12-2010, 06:14   #2
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Our major antennas are 16' and 22' tall (main VHF and SSB). The 22' one puts our height at 33'. But the magic comes when the placement and installation of the antennas allows them to be folded down when passing through bridges. That brings our height down to 20'. Finally our arch can fold either forward and backward. That would bring our height down to about 16'.
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:06   #3
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And add to ActiveCaptain's post I have seen ICW bridges refuse to open for power yachts that could otherwise fit under the bridge except for permanently mounted antennas. The folding down feature is a very important thing to consider.
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Old 12-12-2010, 07:41   #4
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Jeffrey has it about right as 16 ft will get you through the Erie canal / NYS Barge Canal. You still want the VHF as high as possible. VHF is line of sight transmission. Out in open water the height is the key for VHF range. For a satellite dish it is pointless to be higher once the vision to the horizon is clear.

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I have seen ICW bridges refuse to open for power yachts that could otherwise fit under the bridge except for permanently mounted antennas.
Not true they are required by law to open if you have a fixed antenna but it is illegal to request an opening if you could fold your antenna down and clear the bridge without an opening. It is often to your advantage to fold it down when bridges open only on a schedule and you missed the opening 1 minute ago. Some bridges have a sign but it does not matter if they don't. You can be fined though I think most bridge tenders wouldn't push it that far unless you were a total jerk about it and requested an opening on demand in the middle of the night.

Should you have a bridge tender issue write to the USCG but never hassle a bridge tender! "Please" and "thank you" are always appropriate. They run the show at all times.

Also in urban areas commercial traffic always has right of way over you in all situations. Camping out by a bridge for an opening can be frustrating but you need to keep a very close watch. Bridge tenders want to bunch you up to make the opening go fast so vehicle traffic can resume. You'll be gone soon but the drivers are local and can exert political pressure on the bridge tender. Requests to hold a bridge might be granted for periods of less than a minute but they are not required to do so.
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Old 12-12-2010, 10:52   #5
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When you are floating next to a bridge and the operator says No, the reg's/laws/etc. are really a moot point. Just like being ticketed by Miami South marine police for legally anchoring - you have to take time, money and hassle to "prove your legal rights."
- - In practical life such boats simply have to wait until a sailboat gets to the bridge and then follow them through. It is the inconvenience of having to hang around burning fuel that is irksome.
- - And that can be totally avoided if your install a practical, good system to fold down your antennas. Emphasis is on the "practical, good" as I have seen some power yachts that in order to fold down their antennas it takes half an hours and several people. In the OP's case where he is thinking about installing antennas, a little forethought and planning can save hours of grief later.
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:20   #6
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- And that can be totally avoided if your install a practical, good system to fold down your antennas. Emphasis is on the "practical, good" as I have seen some power yachts that in order to fold down their antennas it takes half an hours and several people. In the OP's case where he is thinking about installing antennas, a little forethought and planning can save hours of grief later.

that is good advice,,,, i live in fort lauderdale and have personally witnessed boaters giving bridge tenders a hassle,,, it took a long time to open that bridge,,,, they suddenly had electrical problems on the bridge,,,, it would have been easier to lower the antennas,,,, the bridge tender called the USCG, they have a station around the corner,,, USCG showed up,,, i don't know what happened but how much time was lost,,, get an antenna higher the better but have the ability to lower it and fix it in place when you want
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Old 16-04-2011, 09:47   #7
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Re: Height of a Power Boat's Radio Mast ?

antenna height can be pro or con, if you go high you also should look at your antenna gain, as ther higher the gain the stronger the signal but the signal pattern is narrow and any rocking would give break-up I had a 9db hi gain mounted 60ft on mast and could talk to fl from Bahamas
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Old 16-04-2011, 10:46   #8
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Re: Height of a Power Boat's Radio Mast ?

Antenna height is important for VHF, since range is basically line-of-sight plus about 25%.

Height is not important and, in fact, is not desirable for HF/SSB communications. Lower is better (gives lower vertical radiation angle, i.e., what you want for HF comms).

Bill
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Old 16-04-2011, 10:47   #9
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Re: Height of a Power Boat's Radio Mast ?

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