"The literature" of which John speaks is not scientific literature it is the usual semi-rigorous-almost-technically-valid print that appears in boating
mags attempting to explain in "simple terms" to people without technical backgrounds a means of how one can get the job done. Technical literature DOES and HAS for some time now explained not only how electromagnetic waves propogate but how various structures affect the propogation. The math is not simple and, therefore, cannot be simply explained. There are, in fact, some advanced programs capable of modeling particular yacht structures capable of accurately predicting the transmission
capability of a "matress spring" attached to a tuner output with various rigging
and pulpit metal around.
Just because a "simple" explaination has not been published that everyone can understand does not mean that a solid theory does not exist and is not valid. You cannot believe the development in antenna
design using such theory and modeling capability that has allowed significant advances in all areas of electromagnetic design from just above dc to "daylight" frequency applications. One wonderful example is your GPS
antenna/receiver which is today fairly integrated and continues to be improved upon. These designs could not have been realized without a solid understanding of the existing theories related to electromagnetism and wave propogation.
There are, and have been, some simple explanations in some of these threads regarding the theory and reality of ground (and "power") loops that most non-technical people can understand. The same explanation is part, if not parcel, to the reason that single
point rf "grounding" should be used, if possible. Yes, there may be valid reasons to use multiple ones in different designs and applications.
One point that I keep hammering out in this arena regarding the high-frequency band of antenna
"grounding" is that the word counterpoise
does not apply for small yachts due to the sheer dimension required to accomplish a real counterpoise
phenomenon. Whatever meager attempts are made to run foils, grids, etc. beneath and in the vicinity of, a "quarter wave" radiator accomplish some coupling to the water
beneath and around the hull
via capacitive (and even inductive) coupling, NOT by creating an actual electromagnetic "mirror" for the radiator to function as a quarter- wave-with-ground true counterpoise. Making a direct connection from a tuner "ground" point to the water
in a reasonably short(electromagnetically short for a given frequency) vertical direction makes the best "ground" if reasonably realizable. This is why the really effective HF antenna sites have been located on huge flat areas over salty moist areas. I used to work at a couple of such sites where making HF counterpoises work the best at 2 to 4 MHz was always enhanced (if used at all) by such earth characteristics beneath.