" Such real-world concepts save me from being "almost dead-wrong"."
If so, it's not by much :-))
Don't confuse RADIATION PATTERN with VERTICAL ANGLE OF RADIATION or with VERTICAL POLARIZATION. They're quite different.
A dipole is a dipole is a dipole, whether or not it's surrounded by rigging
. In practice almost all antennas are affected by their surroundings, whether on shore or on the water
. The fact of being aboard ship doesn't make a vertical dipole any less of a "real dipole" than does one hung from a high tree limb ahore (like my three at home).
Proximity to mast
and rigging do, of course, affect horizontal radiation patterns somewhat and, to a lesser extent, vertical radiation patterns. It does not much affect polarization, however. A vertical dipole is vertically polarized, as are virtually all antennas on boats which are verticals. And, has been shown by Greg (in Australia) with his extensive modeling of shipboard antennas, verticals still put out a pretty good horizontal radiation pattern all 'round the horizon, with only minor distortions.
The fact of shore-based stations with big yagis or log periodics (which are horizontally polarized) "saving our bacon" has little or nothing to do with vertical or horizontal polarization. I've been such a "big gun" (with 5-element monoband beams at 65' and a kilowatt linear) and with these have both launched and run maritime mobile nets for several years. The antennas and power run by these stations can be impressive, but have little to do with our conversation here about antennas on sailboats.
Rick, our one point of agreement seems to be the need to optimize antennas on sailboats so that they will put out the best signal obtainable within reason. That has been -- and remains -- my passion for over 30 years, since I published my first article on vertical dipoles in QST.
There remains a lot of bum info out there, which even "experts" are too quick to embrace without question and, more important, without testing and extensive real-world experience. All they hype about external ground plates, wide copper strips, and the like is just one example. Baluns are another. Vertical vs. horizontal polarization is another. These are mildly interesting but almost totally irrelevant (and wrong) contentions.