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Old 17-12-2012, 07:30   #1
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Son Says Radar

I sail in New England, 90% in Maine, though I may venture further south.
Never used radar, but my son, an excellent sailor, is fierce for me to get it. Who does not use radar? Who wouldn't be without it? If you have it, and a chartplotter, would you have been in deep trouble without the radar? What about AIS, which I also do not have? (I do rig two radar reflectors, and stay out of shipping lanes in poor visibility. I've been through dicey places with gps and fog horn, but I don't deny that past is not prologue.) I'm asking now because the mast is down for re-rigging.
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Old 17-12-2012, 07:50   #2
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Re: son says radar

Get the Radar- if your out there enough it will pay for the yacht over and over again- Once I got mine, i would never want to be with out one- Here's why- I don't know how many times I took a long shot and could not make it back to a new port at night and the radar saved my bacon-all it takes is once , and its worth it- I have mine over layed on the chart- or if a fog rolls onto you, and other boats in the area -
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Old 17-12-2012, 07:57   #3
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Get both. You'll be stressed paying for it and less stressed from that point forward.
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Old 17-12-2012, 08:10   #4
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Re: son says radar

The argument for a radar is much weaker if you have a chart plotter.

In my pre-radar and pre-chart plotter days in Maine, I worried much more about hitting a rock than a boat. That's because there are many more rocks in Maine than boats, they don't make much noise (except a too late sound of surf), and they make no effort to watch out for you.

Frankly using radar is a pain in the neck. You can't really helm and use radar effectively at the same time. I'm always on autopilot when using the radar.

And now that the Nova Scotia Cat is gone, the only really scary ship in the waters is not a problem. Lobster boats won't hit you (but come close to have some fun). So the worry is just other pleasure boats of which there are few to worry about in Maine on a foggy day and those few have radar

Still, there will be several times a season when having a radar will take away that stressful moment of "Do you hear a boat?"

Carl
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Old 17-12-2012, 08:18   #5
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Re: son says radar

I never had radar until I started cruising New England. In Florida, if you're socked in by fog, it will be gone by 10am. In Maine you can be fog bound for days or suddenly covered mid-day. You can rely on your GPS for your position, but not for those who are boldly moving with their own radar. You may expect that you are providing an obvious target with your radar reflectors, but only you're own radar will give you data about those that may be causing you risk. The great majority of your traffic will not be sending any AIS data. I'd get the radar.
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Old 17-12-2012, 08:38   #6
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Re: son says radar

I've been very pleased with my radar over the past 5 years. It's saved my a$$ a number of times especially in a crowded shipping harbor like Los Angeles, CA. Fog, barge and container ship issues day and night. Also, marker buoys, jumbo mooring cans, large and small pleasure craft etc. which will not show up on AIS or GPS.

Another issue in favor of radar: Not every vessel out there is equipped with an AIS sending unit. I'm not. Don't count on just an AIS receiver and GPS.
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Old 17-12-2012, 08:49   #7
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Re: son says radar

We've sailed in Maine with and without radar. Without, it wasn't uncommon to be stuck in harbor for several days. With radar, we've made several trips that, while not fun, were safer and less stressful. Between the lobster boats, other pleasure craft and the barges in tow, there's plenty going on that isn't on the chartplotter. Just being able to localize the sound of an engine and track the source is a big stress reducer. We'll be up in Blue Hill Bay this summer and we'll see you. Hope you see us as well.
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Old 17-12-2012, 09:01   #8
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Re: son says radar

I have one. It's been useful as a second opinion of sorts when moving between land masses at night. I have some friends on their second circumnavigation who don't have one; they're fine.

I find that the worse the conditions get the less valuable they are, which sucks because that's of course when it's the hardest to get anything done and you want as much information as possible about where you are.

I'd put it up there with a watermaker and solar panels. Helpful, perhaps critical for some, but there are lots of boats successfully moving around with it. Don't put it on the list of "need to have it before doing real stuff". It's not that important. Others will disagree, but again, there are a lot of people who either don't have one or rarely turn it on.

Regarding AIS, I'd scrap your existing VHF and switch out to the standard horizon model with the built in AIS receiver. It's literally an afternoon job, tops, and that includes twisting some wires with your fingers to link up a handheld GPS next to it.
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Old 17-12-2012, 09:07   #9
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Re: son says radar

One more thing:

There are plenty of objects and vessels that will not return a radar signature no matter how much money you spend and how much the product literature has told you otherwise. There are long lines and lobster boats floating with clear 2 liter bottles as floats, fiberglass workboats that are routinely lower than wave crests with the only metal onboard being fish hooks and the outboard. And this isn't even getting into partially submerged rocks and mischarted objects (which are everywhere, again regardless of what the product literature tells you).

So at best a radar is another source of information; it's not definitive. If there's an area you wouldn't feel safe transiting in the dark radar makes it "less dangerous", but hardly makes it "safe".
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Old 17-12-2012, 09:07   #10
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Re: son says radar

For Maine you want the radar, the incidence of fog there is very high and radar may show you things that won't show up on a chartplotter or AIS, specifically other boaters that don't have AIS, aren't making sounds as they are supposed to do but do have a decent radar reflector or return a good echo without a reflector.

See link for CONUS fog incidence map: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j...55325884,d.cGE

Most other places in the US I wouldn't make it much of a priority.
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Old 17-12-2012, 09:13   #11
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Re: son says radar

When I taught sailing I used to discuss equipment with new students, many who hoped to cruise and were getting their bareboat certifications. I always started with essential equipment:

1) an adjusted compass with deviation chart
2) a means of sounding depth (lead line works but depth sounder much more convenient)
3) a means of seeing (high quality binoculars 7x50 a must) followed by RADAR

While chart plotters, gps units, AIS transponders are all important options for the cruising sailor I can't imagine sailing without radar. Yes, it takes a bit of time to learn to use effectively, but if I had to choose between a GPS and a Radar I'd take the radar. A good DR plot can get you with in radar range if you lost the GPS but the radar is that 2nd set of eyes that see through dark and fog.

That's my list and YMMV but Radar is a critical piece of gear for distance cruising, not just in fog but anywhere you encounter other boats/structures at night

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Old 17-12-2012, 09:21   #12
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Re: son says radar

Right On Scott- Nice if you know how to use it - I think many who don't put radar near the top of their list, just have not spent enough time at sea with a good set up to learn it completely
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Old 17-12-2012, 09:22   #13
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Re: son says radar

You want radar if you are going to be out there at night or in restricted visibility.

You want a plotter so that at a glance you can see where you are and what you are heading towards.

Both devices provide the same information and also provide different types of information.

Having a plotter or a radar does not make the other less useful. The more navigation tools that you have, the safer you are, provided you know how to use them and know how to analyze the information they provide.
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Old 17-12-2012, 09:32   #14
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Re: son says radar

I have often found that the charts were off a bit coming into an inlet or marina and the radar is dead on every time-sometimes you only have one shot at coming thru, and the radar makes the difference if you can see or not at night
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Old 17-12-2012, 09:37   #15
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Re: son says radar

Quote:
Originally Posted by Surrymark View Post
I sail in New England, 90% in Maine, though I may venture further south.
Never used radar, but my son, an excellent sailor, is fierce for me to get it. Who does not use radar? Who wouldn't be without it? If you have it, and a chartplotter, would you have been in deep trouble without the radar? What about AIS, which I also do not have? (I do rig two radar reflectors, and stay out of shipping lanes in poor visibility. I've been through dicey places with gps and fog horn, but I don't deny that past is not prologue.) I'm asking now because the mast is down for re-rigging.
Listen to your son. An "excellent sailor". I never heard a logical reason NOT to have a radar.
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