Like Hud we had two Mobri tubular radar reflectors on our rigging
. One on each cap shroud
just below the masthead. These were installed when we restepped the mast
in March of '02 after shipping
the yacht to Florida
While I thought these were pretty good, an article and some published research
on the efficacy of radar reflectors indicated that they were only effective if vertical. If not, their profile deteriorated markedly. That news was disappointing so, whenever we had an opportunity, I would contact passing ships and ask how we looked on their radar and when we were sighted. Most responses were favorable.
In early June we lost
both reflectors. The first in rough seas as we exited Long Boat Pass south of Tampa Bay when we were forced out of the relatively narrow deep channel by an inbound power-boat. Outside the channel the sea was huge in the relatively shallow water
and we were rockin 'n rollin big-time until we could regain the channel. In the midst of the uproar there was a terrific explosion on deck
and I though we had lost
. The mast stayed up, however, and we continued on. Later, upon examining wreckage on deck
, I discovered that the plastic retainers on the Mobri mounted on the starboard cap-shroud had let go, dropping the thing 57 feet to the deck where it just exploded!
Two days later, while making a night passage
from Boca Grande to Key West
, we had to thread through a line of squalls and endure really rotten short choppy seas for eight hours or so during which the second Mobri took its leave (but did not end up on deck).
Once in Key West
I examined the pieces of the starboard reflector again and it was evident that the plastic had deteriorated and weakened in the sun so much that the forces generated by the unit's own weight as the masthead lurched around had caused the plastic to crack off.
On our way home the following week--sans reflectors--we were passed by the Express Ferry
from Ft. Myers to Key West. When they came abeam at about two miles, we contacted them by vhf
and asked about our radar reflection. They indicated they had picked us up at 9 or 10 miles. Accordingly, I'm wondering if our Mobri's really did anything at all to enhance our reflection.
At this juncture I am considering adding the mid-sized tri-lens to our mast, just above our own radar dome--about 35 feet above deck--as that unit seems to have the best cost/reflected area ratio.