My solution is to hang a pulley at the masthead and run a line through it with a copper wire on the up side. The rope lead can either go to the mast foot or aft. Rig it to the quaters or stern arch to get clear of the back stay. You don't need to buy a commercial
rope aerial just take a length of 14g wire and weave it in and out of the line using a fid, (I tried zip ties - worked but the UV destroys them in about 2 seasons) takes a while because of the length but easy to do. Then solder a standard radio plug
on the end or solder directly to the insulated feed (minimizes connector noise
, coupling noise
can, I think be a problem for backstay aerials). It is best done with a braided line and actually cheaper line tends to be easier as the weave is not so tight. I have tried to thread a tubular line, which is how the commercial
ones are done, but proved impossible, The gain is that you then have an aerial that is independent of the rigging and very easy to lower if you need to. Also means that if you do loose the mast you can rig the aerial across the deck
for emergency transmission
. Performance is at least as good as a back stay (copper is a more efficient conductor than S/S) but cost is minimal and you don't have to introduce insulators to the back stay.
I use a conventional underwater groundplane but I have heard of using the guard wire as the ground plane forming a 'L' dipole, not tried it but would be an interesting experiment
. I have wondered if a rope backstay might improve reception
by removing a conductor which is potentially paralleling the aerial although I think the difference would be marginal unless on a steel
boat or one with a grounded rig (lightening path?) mine isn't as I have a wooden boat with internal chain plates. Anyway so far reception
has only been limited by propagation condition so good enough for me and I am as clear on Tx as Rx.