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Old 12-06-2016, 17:15   #1
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Radar for SE USA, the Gulf, and Carribean

I don't feel it makes sense to spend money to buy new nav cards for a 15 year old chart plotter considering that a new chart plotter with US charts is about the same price. So the question is whether it is worth spending around $1000-1500 to replace my radar when upgrading my 2001 chart plotter.

So for those who have spent time boating in the Southern East Coast of the US, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean, is it really worth a $1000 to have radar?

Keep in mind I'm cruising and not really in a rush and can wait for weather to change.
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Old 12-06-2016, 17:22   #2
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Re: Radar for SE USA, the Gulf, and Carribean

At night is when radar really pays off for me. I love having a second set of eyes scanning the horizon. There's not really much fog or bad weather though to where you would absolutely need it in my area (gulf coast FL)
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Old 12-06-2016, 18:18   #3
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Re: Radar for SE USA, the Gulf, and Carribean

All depends on your budget. I cruised FL, Bahamas and Caribbean for almost 15 years with no radar. Of course I also had no GPS, satnav or anything much beyond a fathometer and VHF.

There were a couple of times I would have really liked to have it, mainly cruising the Bahamas at night with cays and reefs all around wondering if I was where DR put me or if I was ready to run aground because current or leeway was more or less than I estimated. GPS would help with that but I don't like to trust GPS show where I am exactly in relation to hazards.

So why not keep the old radar for now but add the new GPS. I have a new Garmin MFD that would accept radar but kept the old Raytheon radar. At some point I'll get rid of the old radar and get a new radome for the Garmin.
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Old 12-06-2016, 18:50   #4
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Re: Radar for SE USA, the Gulf, and Carribean

During a crossing to the Bahamas, the weather forecasts did not pan out, and instead of a comfortable sail, we ended up motoring through scattered squalls - the radar was invaluable for spotting and avoiding storm cells. Given the region, I wouldn't go without radar.
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Old 12-06-2016, 19:15   #5
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Re: Radar for SE USA, the Gulf, and Carribean

Sailorboy, I am in the same predicament as you. As Gord put it recently, risk = frequency (or chance) * cost.

If you make it a point to only pick good weather windows and never try to arrive in port (or navigate reefs) at night, I think the chance of an issue is small in the area you mentioned. Things are relatively well mapped and weather forecasting is easy to get. A radar just becomes a safely blanket for night sailing. Warm to have, but you'll make it without.

My trip's phase 1 will be in the Caribbean's and I won't I have radar. There are really only a few over nighters to sail, so I'll roll the dice. I will have an AIS transponder though and a sat phone for weather updates. Should give me comfort that I won't get mowed down by a freight liner or run into a large storm. Might not help on hitting another sailboat or smaller systems/squalls.

With phase 2 being the South Pacific, a radar becomes much more likely. More remote and not as trusting of the maps.

All a budget thing. Will put the $1,500 to another important thing. Maybe you can say it funded my Vespar XB-8000.

I vote you start without. I haven't installed a radar yet, but it seems it won't be hard to do in a foreign port of you really want one after a few months.


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Old 12-06-2016, 19:32   #6
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Re: Radar for SE USA, the Gulf, and Carribean

We opted to install a radar, but mostly as a night watch aid. It's not needed, but is a real help with the guard alarm.
Had I not found a great deal on a new old unit we may still not have it, but it was a decision of opportunity.


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Old 12-06-2016, 19:41   #7
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Re: Radar for SE USA, the Gulf, and Carribean

I used my radar getting to the Eastern Caribbean and also coming back - at night it helps to see how far away squalls and the occasional ship are. But we certainly could have done without. Once in the islands we pretty much never used it.
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Old 12-06-2016, 21:15   #8
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Radar for SE USA, the Gulf, and Carribean

I am a proponent of radar. I have sailed a fair amount in the Gulf and SW Florida and I wouldn't want to be without it. I haven't experienced fog in the Gulf, but staying away from shrimp boats at night, radar is a must. The shrimp boats don't use AIS and they are zigging and zagging about and radar helps you get safely through the mayhem. I also like to use radar to track weather, although that is a secondary use. I have AIS, receiver only, and that keeps me in touch with the big ships, but not fishing boats, shrimpers or other private boats out there.

I have also located boats with minimal lighting, no one visible, and just drifting, presumably with the crew asleep. Radar on the guard zone allows a bit of warning for those drifters. I've also encountered one power boat that went by me at about 20 knots, nobody visible at the helm. I am sure I was never seen and we only missed by about 75 feet- all due to MARPHA and me getting out of the way.

Although most of these events were at night, sometimes it is easier to spot someone at night with lights on than it is in the daytime. Radar and MARPHA help with figuring out what is happening around you in the daytime too.

I would buy radar and AIS if you can afford it.


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Old 12-06-2016, 21:36   #9
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Re: Radar for SE USA, the Gulf, and Carribean

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
I don't feel it makes sense to spend money to buy new nav cards for a 15 year old chart plotter considering that a new chart plotter with US charts is about the same price. So the question is whether it is worth spending around $1000-1500 to replace my radar when upgrading my 2001 chart plotter.

So for those who have spent time boating in the Southern East Coast of the US, Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean, is it really worth a $1000 to have radar?

Keep in mind I'm cruising and not really in a rush and can wait for weather to change.
===

Having boated in all of those places I would say unequivocally yes. Radar is absolutely invaluable at night. I really don't know how I got along without it for so long. A few years ago I would have also recommended radar with ARPA functions but I'm finding that less valuable now that AIS has become widespread.

In Florida coastal waters we frequently use radar to track thunderstorm activity. We've found it quite possible to dodge many storms with only minor course changes as long as you have sufficient information.

$1,000 is a small price to pay to see what's out in front of you at night, in fog or during heavy rain.
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Old 13-06-2016, 04:28   #10
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Re: Radar for SE USA, the Gulf, and Carribean

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post

So why not keep the old radar for now but add the new GPS.
It's a space for mounting the displays issue.
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Old 13-06-2016, 05:37   #11
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Re: Radar for SE USA, the Gulf, and Carribean

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Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
It's a space for mounting the displays issue.
On my boat the Garmin plotter is mounted on the helm in the cockpit and the radar display below at the nav table. Not the most convenient sometimes but lets me have both. Could you do something like this?
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Old 13-06-2016, 07:48   #12
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Re: Radar for SE USA, the Gulf, and Carribean

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On my boat the Garmin plotter is mounted on the helm in the cockpit and the radar display below at the nav table. Not the most convenient sometimes but lets me have both. Could you do something like this?
Could, but don't see the usefulness. Currently my plotter is at the nav desk and the radar at the helm. But they are connected and can share displays.I could move the radar to the nav desk and install new plotter at the helm. But don't feel that is really useful.

I "want" to keep radar, but question the "need"of it (need is a loose term because I of course don't truly need it). But everything on a boat can be fixed with the proper application of cash!
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Old 13-06-2016, 08:18   #13
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Re: Radar for SE USA, the Gulf, and Carribean

Using radar for evading squalls is good. You can also use it when it's not rainy at all.
About 10 years ago +/- we had a lot of forest fires on the middle/northern parts of the Florida east coast. We left out of Daytona northbound one morning and had to navigate by radar for about 3 hours due to the smoke lol.
Radar can come in handy even when you don't plan on it.
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Old 13-06-2016, 08:30   #14
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Re: Radar for SE USA, the Gulf, and Carribean

A multi-function display which can overlay radar onto the chartplotter display giving you GPS and radar on a single screen will address space issues. They don't have to be seperate units. I like the idea of 2 multi-function displays (If I had the space) to be able to zoom one in and one out further.

We use the Radar at night and in fog. We get much more fog in the North East US (New England).
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Old 13-06-2016, 09:48   #15
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Re: Radar for SE USA, the Gulf, and Carribean

...is it really worth a $1000 to have radar?...Keep in mind I'm cruising and not really in a rush...

We cruised for seven years without radar (UK to Mediterranean) and I can think of perhaps, three ocassions we could've done with one. The new boat came with a radar, so in five years from Greece, to S America, Caribbean, US east coast to Maine and back to the Bahamas, we've turned it on three times, though to be honest only 'needed' it once; that was approaching Fernandina Beach, Fl. 'Not in a rush' is a major factor, there were lots of very foggy days when we were up in Maine, but even with a radar, why go out in fog when you don't have to.
I noted several posts recommending radar use for squall-spotting and night-watches; it could certainly be of assistance, but it isn't 'needed', besides which, radars - ours at least - burn an awful lot of amps, perhaps not relevant if you're on a motor yacht, but the solar/wind generation on most sailboats would struggle to replace them without help.
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