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Where is your radar reflector?

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by rpwillia, May 9, 2014. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. rpwillia

    rpwillia

    Joined Sep 29, 2008
    1,701 posts, 9 likes
    Catalina 310 #185
    US Quantico
    We had a marine safety guy come in and talk to my YC about safety equipment. One thing he mentioned we should have was a radar reflector. He recommended the Echomax and after he described it I recall seeing some of them mounted to the front of peoples masts. I wonder, with the usual pros and cons, about mounting one on the top of the mast and if there is such a one? Seems like a good topic for discussion as sometimes the barges just do not see us.
     


  2. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    3,612 posts, 405 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US Oceanside, Ca MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    I use the Echo Master by Davis Marine. It is located on the port side under the spreader. I believe it works because I was spotted by a US Navy War Ship when I was coming out of San Diego Bay. I could barely see him on the horizon.
     


  3. kappykaplan

    kappykaplan

    Joined May 1, 2011
    645 posts, 61 likes
    Pearson 37
    US Lusby MD
    My reflector is located on the upper starboard spreader.
     


  4. Chris Patterson

    Chris Patterson

    Joined Oct 17, 2011
    2,744 posts, 47 likes
    Ericson 29
    US Southport..
    I keep one of the Davis reflectors under my port spreader. I've seen the tests that conclude that I'm 'highly visible', and maybe so. I have no personal experience that this thing does one single thing at all, at best a small blp reminiscent of a smaller buoy. I just makes me feel better knowing I did something. For what it's worth, I sea trial large boats, and from the helm that is my perspective as well. There's generally a lot going on at the helm of large boats in tight quarters, and just personally speaking here, that blip slides a little down the list of importance when trying to keep a hundred tons or better out of trouble..
     


  5. Charlie Jones s/v Tehani

    Charlie Jones s/v Tehani

    Joined Mar 1, 2012
    1,251 posts, 235 likes
    1961 Rhodes Meridian 25
    us Texas coast
    I use the Davis EchoMaster, permanently installed on my backstay.
     


  6. dparilla

    dparilla

    Joined Jan 22, 2008
    597 posts, 1 likes
    Oday 35 and Mariner 2+2
    US Alexandria, VA
    Currently, we rig one under the starboard spreader. We have been picked up at 8 miles by merchants on our way to Narragansett Bay. Without it, they reported not getting our radar return until under 3 miles (if at all.) The echomaster works really well, and is one of less expensive models.
     


  7. Maine Sail

    Maine Sail Moderator

    Joined Feb 6, 1998
    10,431 posts, 354 likes
    Canadian Sailcraft 36T
    US Casco Bay, ME
    Our Davis is up all season in double catch rain...

    [​IMG]



    Because it is not always that clear in Maine....;)
    [​IMG]
     


  8. rpwillia

    rpwillia

    Joined Sep 29, 2008
    1,701 posts, 9 likes
    Catalina 310 #185
    US Quantico
    Thanks

    Good to know, I always wonders about them and after hearing this guy talk about it I am convinced. I had an incident about 5 years ago coming up the river and never saw the barge and his lights through all the clutter of light from the shore until he swept a spotlight in front of him. Called the captain and we had a nice chat. Would have been better if he had seen me and called me.
     


  9. Maine Sail

    Maine Sail Moderator

    Joined Feb 6, 1998
    10,431 posts, 354 likes
    Canadian Sailcraft 36T
    US Casco Bay, ME
    You could not pay me to not have a radar reflector in Maine... I actually run my radar in clear weather too, just good practice, so I get to see the results, in the real world, with my radar, of how reflectors really work. Are reflectors perfect? No, but for the $40.00 you are simply foolish to sail around Maine or the Maritimes without one...

    This boat had no reflector, painted no radar signature to speak of, other than some noise, not using or monitoring VHF, no running lights and was not running fog signals..
    [​IMG]

    This is what he looked like on radar he is the little red spec just above the 18' sounding:
    [​IMG]

    BTW the two boats showing up clear as day, dead ahead of us to port and starboard, were both using radar reflectors and both were under sail like the invisible boat behind us.......
     


    jjoptics likes this.
  10. Gunni

    Gunni

    Joined Mar 16, 2010
    4,488 posts, 632 likes
    Beneteau 411 Oceanis
    US Annapolis
    Barge tugs have to be the most dangerous commercial vessels on the Bay. They are low, dark and hard to see. You typically have to interpret their light stack to know what you are looking at. Up a narrow waterway like a river it has to be worse. Passive measures like a reflector is not enough. Although the tugs remain largely exempt from the AIS requirement, most of them now appear to be installing AIS, so I would recommend AIS if you plan to be out at night. Make it a transceiver so that they also have a chance to see you. In any case, I like to to talk to the bridge pilot of any commercial vessel that I share close quarters with at night. Greatly reduces the drama factor.
     


  11. Maine Sail

    Maine Sail Moderator

    Joined Feb 6, 1998
    10,431 posts, 354 likes
    Canadian Sailcraft 36T
    US Casco Bay, ME
    AIS can fail you miserably when you need it most.

    Tim R. and I were sailing our boat Down East. It was a two day slog of over 100 miles in pea soup. Approaching Pen Bay I noticed a target on the radar, then two more that almost appeared to be echos or a funny radar glitch / echo. The tug had AIS so I hailed him to see if he was towing two barges by chance. He WAS towing two barges 900' apart but AIS did NOT show that....

    If we had not had radar, and were blindly using AIS as many do now days, it would have been very, very easy to see the target vessel and kept on trucking, and passing behind him.

    We would have easily been dismasted if we only had AIS and blindly trusted it. Far too many boaters rely solely on AIS these days and it is a false sense of security..

    Only radar painted the ACCURATE picture of what was really happening...... The only thing AIS gave me, in that instance, was the tugs name which made hailing them slightly easier. Without AIS I would have hailed too.

    AIS can also be very, very slow to update. Far to slow in the fog....


    Imagine if this was in Pea Soup Fog..... Watch the target update on the screen then watch where the sailboat is as I turn the camera and aim it at them.... In fog? NOT....!


    Bottom line is use all the tools you have. AIS is simply not a substitute for radar it a tool best used in addition to to radar....
     


    capta likes this.
  12. wufibugs

    wufibugs

    Joined Aug 16, 2009
    986 posts, 18 likes
    Hunter 1986 H31
    US California Yacht Marina, Chula Vista, CA
    I have mine on the backstay. Is the spreader a preferable location, and if so, why?
     


  13. dparilla

    dparilla

    Joined Jan 22, 2008
    597 posts, 1 likes
    Oday 35 and Mariner 2+2
    US Alexandria, VA
    Truly you want the reflector as high up as possible, so if you have it mounted up top on the backstay, that is great. A lot of people use their spreader halyards for the reflector since it is an easy hoist, and still puts the reflector pretty high up. I would not move it from the backstay.
     


  14. Tom G P-21

    Tom G P-21

    Joined Aug 15, 2012
    293 posts, 13 likes
    Precision 21
    US Newburyport MA
    It's hanging up in the basement.

    I mostly trailer sail and it was one more thing to get in the way when launching. Its the echomax and came with the boat when we got her. After reading these comments I think I might start using it.
     


  15. Charlie Jones s/v Tehani

    Charlie Jones s/v Tehani

    Joined Mar 1, 2012
    1,251 posts, 235 likes
    1961 Rhodes Meridian 25
    us Texas coast
    One point about the Davis. After five years of being constantly up, the little plastic clips that hold the whole thing together just disintegrated. The aluminum panels were still fine, but the sun got to the clips. I now have a new one that hasn't been installed yet. Plan to research a way to either shield the clips, or use some stainless wire to hold it together, in lieu of.
     


  16. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    3,612 posts, 405 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US Oceanside, Ca MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    I would think that if it was going to remain up forever (sort of) then you might want to see if you can spot weld the panels together.
     


  17. Bill1565

    Bill1565

    Joined Jan 22, 2008
    1,483 posts, 1 likes
    Hunter 37 C sloop
    US Punta Gorda FL
    No law says you are limited to one reflector. Years ago coming down the Mississippi we had one on the crutch where the main had been and one on the mizzen crutch. Tow boat operators were intensely curious what we were . Good .
     


  18. Charlie Jones s/v Tehani

    Charlie Jones s/v Tehani

    Joined Mar 1, 2012
    1,251 posts, 235 likes
    1961 Rhodes Meridian 25
    us Texas coast
    Might be fun;)

    I have to assemble it around the backstay, while standing on a ladder. And the boat is in a slip.

    And aluminum is not TAT simple to weld

    Not really a bad idea though. Have to give it some thought. JB weld might work
     


  19. Chris Patterson

    Chris Patterson

    Joined Oct 17, 2011
    2,744 posts, 47 likes
    Ericson 29
    US Southport..
    Those clips all have holes in them for safety wire or whatever. Mine does.
     


  20. Charlie Jones s/v Tehani

    Charlie Jones s/v Tehani

    Joined Mar 1, 2012
    1,251 posts, 235 likes
    1961 Rhodes Meridian 25
    us Texas coast
    As does mine. Just wanted to alert people to the fact that the plastic clips WILL deteriorate. Hopefully save some surprises by being warned in advance
     


    zengirl likes this.

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