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Old 20-08-2018, 17:39   #1
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Masthead antenna mount, retractable for bridges

I have searched and come up short. Is there a product of an antenna mount which can be adjusted from vertical to horizontal remotely? I'm thinking a spring loaded swivel and a long line that runs to the deck. The spring holds the swivel to vertical against a stop block. When needed, the line is pulled, the swivel rotates 90ish degrees, the antenna comes down to horizontal against another stop block. Clear under the bridge, release the line, the antenna pops back up to vertical. I think that's what I want to put on the side of my masthead and attach a spectacular VHF antenna to it for comms and AIS.

Story time ...

When we bought the boat I was aware the masthead VHF antenna was not in ideal condition, we'll say. But it worked enough to get us by for a couple months while I sorted out what to do about it. Incidentally we also now own a couple really nice handhelds ... heh.

While at Hilton Head I scurried up the mast and took some pictures. The mount is warped and the antenna is wobbling in the mount, without whatever clampy bit which used to hold the antenna affixed to the mount. Curiously there's also a bit of rope tied to the antenna. Someone had been up there and this was the best they came up with?

The airdraft is documented at 63'6", which sounds comfortable. The additional lights and instruments are about a foot above the top plate. This is somewhat less comfortable. The antenna appears to be about four feet long, mounted on the side of the mast a few inches down from the top plate, making it roughly 67' high. This is not acceptable for the ICW.

Coming in to New Bern we were working with information that stated this bridge was over 80' tall. This bridge is NOT over 80' tall. It's the same as all the other ICW bridges at 65'. When we got there the tide board was showing about 65'6".

After a moment of self deliberation I came to the conclusion my VHF antenna was going to be replaced anyway and I'd use it today as a feeler. Entering New Bern there are in fact three bridges in rapid succession. The first bridge, PANG! The next two bridges ... nothing. Hey! The VHF antenna has been adjusted for 65'6" clearance! Job done.
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Old 20-08-2018, 18:22   #2
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Re: Masthead antenna mount, retractable for bridges

While not marine specific so not sure if it will hold up but check out

I have used these these on cars when I worked in a location that needed my ham antennas to be down to get into a parking lot.

Diamond, Comet and Moldol all make variants of this unit.
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Old 21-08-2018, 05:43   #3
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Re: Masthead antenna mount, retractable for bridges

In 2013, friends of ours with a sistership of ours, were preparing for a trip through the Bahamas to the EC. Shortly before they were ready to leave, their boat was hit by lightening, which struck the up-right VHF Antenna, exploded it, and wiped out all of their electrics and electronics. (We found pieces of their VHF Antenna base on our boat, 4 slips away in our boat basin.) Once the boat was repaired (>$20K) and it came to remounting a VHF Antenna at the masthead, we discussed the alternative of mounting the antenna up-side down from a short stand-off, along side the mast, as the signal doesn't care which end is up, and the antenna would be much less of a "lightening rod" in that orientation. He chose that option and did so, with a thin piece of starboard mounted on the mast as a shield to prevent the antenna coming in contact with the mast itself in heavy winds. Since then, they have been cruising the EC during the winter months, laying the yacht up on the hard in Jolly Harbor, Antigua, during Hurricane Season. Steve reports no loss of range or performance in the antenna for the inverted orientation. (Their boat "blog" can be seen at "Sail with Ocean Angel") Additionally, masthead clearance is reduced. Think about it.

"It is not so much for its beauty that the Sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."
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antenna, head, mast

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