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Old 26-04-2011, 07:11   #1
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Anyone ever use a halyard antenna?

Have a look at this:

Rope Antennas, Single Side Band antennas for Sail boats, powerboats, SSB antennas

I am one of many who want an SSB on board but don't want to chop up the backstay.

We all have a spare halyard or two which does not get in the way while sailing. Why could we just hoist an antenna on the spare halyard and leave it in that very same place where the spare halyard usually lives?

Seems like a perfectly sound idea to me but strangely have never heard of anyone using it.
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Old 26-04-2011, 08:12   #2
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Re: Anyone ever use a halyard antenna?

Yes. I've been using a similar arrangement for over 20 years -- a copper wire run from a flag halyard at the masthead to the tip of an old fiberglass fishing rod fastened to the stern rail. The feedline is run up the hollow center of the fishing rod. Works great, parts from the junk bin, has survived more than one hurricane. Gets strong signal report from all over the world.
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Old 26-04-2011, 08:25   #3
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Re: Anyone ever use a halyard antenna?

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Originally Posted by Play Actor View Post
Yes. I've been using a similar arrangement for over 20 years -- a copper wire run from a flag halyard at the masthead to the tip of an old fiberglass fishing rod fastened to the stern rail. The feedline is run up the hollow center of the fishing rod. Works great, parts from the junk bin, has survived more than one hurricane. Gets strong signal report from all over the world.
And you leave that rigged permanently? Or you just hoist it when you want to use the radio?
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Old 26-04-2011, 08:44   #4
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Re: Anyone ever use a halyard antenna?

will it support weight? If so, it might make sense to use something like that for a boom topping lift.
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Old 26-04-2011, 08:47   #5
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Re: Anyone ever use a halyard antenna?

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will it support weight? If so, it might make sense to use something like that for a boom topping lift.
Now THAT is an excellent idea. Yes, I think it's supposed to have reasonable load characteristics, although I wouldn't use anything like that for a halyard. But a topping lift -- great idea.

Mine is wire cable anyway. Just add an insulator at the top and substitute copper for steel cable and voila.

The only problem I can see is the antenna feed itself -- taken from the top? Or through the boom? Hmmm.
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Old 26-04-2011, 09:19   #6
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There have been many mentions on this forum of using a spare halyard to hoist a temporary or semi-permanent antenna in this way. There is no reason to limit the antenna to copper, though. Stainless steel cable will work as well for the antenna.

Chip
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Old 26-04-2011, 09:33   #7
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Re: Anyone Ever Use a Halyard Antenna ?

Excellent post! I just got a boat with a SSB but no antenna. Now I have an inexpensive solution. :-)
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Old 26-04-2011, 09:48   #8
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Re: Anyone Ever Use a Halyard Antenna ?

I use #14 insulated copper wire hoisted between the twin back stays. using the old topping lift. I went to a rigid vang and no longer use the topping lift. I leave it up permanently.
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Old 26-04-2011, 09:56   #9
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Re: Anyone Ever Use a Halyard Antenna ?

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Originally Posted by SoonerSailor View Post
There have been many mentions on this forum of using a spare halyard to hoist a temporary or semi-permanent antenna in this way. There is no reason to limit the antenna to copper, though. Stainless steel cable will work as well for the antenna.

Chip
So I might even leave the old topping lift in place and use that? Oh, joy!
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Old 26-04-2011, 10:12   #10
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The old topping lift might work fine, but there can be confounding factors like the nature of its contact with the mast at the head, and also what its overall length is including the feedline. You would probably be best off if the topping lift cable were insulated from the mast. It is also important for it to be 23 ft or longer, but not 1/2 wavelength of any band you expect to operate on - this will improve the likelihood of your antenna tuner getting a good match.

Chip
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Old 26-04-2011, 11:08   #11
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Re: Anyone Ever Use a Halyard Antenna ?

I've been using, writing about, and installing on customer's boats "alternate backstay" antennas for more than 20 years. On my boat, Born Free, the "alternate backstay" antenna is 22 years old. It has survived five (count 'em...5) major hurricanes in the BVI with winds in the marina above 100 knots.

To my mind, any antenna rigged on a cruising sailboat should be "marinized", that is, able to stand up to the rigors of the marine environment.

I recommend, use, and install "alternate backstay antennas" fabricated from insulated s/s lifeline. Usually, these are hoisted on a spare halyard or, if such doesn't exist, a dedicated block at the truck of the mast. The lower end is generally made fast to one side of the pushpit, or other structure in the stern. It is fed with GTO-15 wire from an automatic tuner located just belowdecks.

Here's a pic of mine: DSC_0028

The black ribbed insulator and the square teak standoff insulators are overkill. You don't need them. A length of Dacron line works well for a lower insulator, and standoffs can be made from 5/8" solid nylon rod, with a hole drilled in the center, attached with wire ties.

These are very robust and work every bit as well as a traditional backstay antenna, and you don't have to either pay for the expensive insulators or cut into your existing backstay.

Where it's impossible to rig such an antenna (like on some catamarans where the boom is too long), you can put an insulator in the topmast shroud near the top, and feed the shroud from the chainplate belowdecks.

Bill
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Old 26-04-2011, 11:25   #12
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Re: Anyone Ever Use a Halyard Antenna ?

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
I've been using, writing about, and installing on customer's boats "alternate backstay" antennas for more than 20 years. On my boat, Born Free, the "alternate backstay" antenna is 22 years old. It has survived five (count 'em...5) major hurricanes in the BVI with winds in the marina above 100 knots.

To my mind, any antenna rigged on a cruising sailboat should be "marinized", that is, able to stand up to the rigors of the marine environment.

I recommend, use, and install "alternate backstay antennas" fabricated from insulated s/s lifeline. Usually, these are hoisted on a spare halyard or, if such doesn't exist, a dedicated block at the truck of the mast. The lower end is generally made fast to one side of the pushpit, or other structure in the stern. It is fed with GTO-15 wire from an automatic tuner located just belowdecks.

Here's a pic of mine: DSC_0028

The black ribbed insulator and the square teak standoff insulators are overkill. You don't need them. A length of Dacron line works well for a lower insulator, and standoffs can be made from 5/8" solid nylon rod, with a hole drilled in the center, attached with wire ties.

These are very robust and work every bit as well as a traditional backstay antenna, and you don't have to either pay for the expensive insulators or cut into your existing backstay.

Where it's impossible to rig such an antenna (like on some catamarans where the boom is too long), you can put an insulator in the topmast shroud near the top, and feed the shroud from the chainplate belowdecks.

Bill
Thanks very much -- has given me a lot of new ideas.

I don't want the traditional backstay antenna because (1) I really don't like the idea of chopping up what is perhaps the key structural element of the rig; (2) my backstay is made of 18mm stainless and I can't get insulators for that thick wire without special order and staggering expense.

Chopping a shroud sounds much more reasonable. I'll check what the wire size is but I think it's much less than the backstay. If God forbid an insulator failed on a shroud I think the chances of the mast coming down are much less with my three-spreader rig, than if the backstay parted. So that also sounds like a good option, and using the chainplate as a feeder sounds elegant also.

I believe my topping lift is about 60 feet long, so I would think it would work too. It's a fixed wire with a block at the end of it -- the moving parts go through the boom. I don't see why I couldn't put an insulator in the top of it. It bears little load and has nothing to do with rig integrity. The thing that bugs me is how to make the feed. I guess I would have to run it through the boom, and I have a lot of other lines in there, moving lines like the mainsheet, topping lift, outhaul.

But anyway, thanks very much for the ideas.
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Old 26-04-2011, 13:00   #13
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Re: Anyone Ever Use a Halyard Antenna ?

Topping lifts as antennas are impractical, IMHO, because of the feedline problem and associated losses. Remember, the antenna begins AT THE TUNER. Wires buried in booms or masts would have a tremendous loss associated with them.

On a Moody 54 cutter, I would think an "alternate antenna" like the one on my boat would be a good option, and certainly preferable to one involving cutting a piece of existing standing rigging.

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Old 26-04-2011, 13:22   #14
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Re: Anyone Ever Use a Halyard Antenna ?

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Topping lifts as antennas are impractical, IMHO, because of the feedline problem and associated losses. Remember, the antenna begins AT THE TUNER. Wires buried in booms or masts would have a tremendous loss associated with them.

On a Moody 54 cutter, I would think an "alternate antenna" like the one on my boat would be a good option, and certainly preferable to one involving cutting a piece of existing standing rigging.

Bill
OK, so you just run the wire from the masthead to the pushpit, right?

Seems simple enough, although somewhat of a shame to get that extra windage and clutter.

Pretty boat you have, by the way.
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Old 26-04-2011, 13:35   #15
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Re: Anyone Ever Use a Halyard Antenna ?

Thank you, sir!

Yes, just run a length of s/s lifeline from the masthead to the pushpit, whichever side is best (i.e., where you can mount the automatic tuner just underdeck). Length isn't important, so long as it's over 23' or so. Around 40' works pretty well. Longer to favor the lower bands, a bit shorter to favor the higher bands.

Be sure you have boom clearance and that the roach clears the antenna, or nearly so. A bit of an overlap isn't a problem.

The "additional windage and clutter" is negligible on any boat over 20 feet or so. On a Moody 54 it would be less than negligible :-)

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