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Climbing my mast? Hire someone or woman-up? :)

Jun 21, 2004
1,884
Beneteau 343 Slidell, LA
Image 0874 shows vhf antenna input that will fit a PL-259 connector. Don't have a clue as to what 0872 plug is. As JoeWhite mentioned, it appears to be an audio plug; perhaps for an onboard stereo / CD player. Going to have to trace the grey wire and see where it leads to. Also, look under mast inside cabin and you will likely find the coax cable for the vhf antenna that traverses the inside of the mast.
 
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Nov 3, 2018
69
Cape Dory, Albin 300ms Motorsailer, Vega Baltimore
HeatherE,
One suggestion I make to all new boat owners I meet is to get a copy of Nigel Calders “Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual” It is a comprehensive encyclopedia of all the systems found on a cruising sailboat. I have two, one I keep on the boat covered with greasy fingerprints that serve as a visual reminder of problems I’ve had from time to time and another volume at home. The book will more then pay for itself and help you avoid salespeople trying to make their quota.
 
May 17, 2004
3,470
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
HeatherE,
One suggestion I make to all new boat owners I meet is to get a copy of Nigel Calders “Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Manual” It is a comprehensive encyclopedia of all the systems found on a cruising sailboat. I have two, one I keep on the boat covered with greasy fingerprints that serve as a visual reminder of problems I’ve had from time to time and another volume at home. The book will more then pay for itself and help you avoid salespeople trying to make their quota.
:plus: You will learn a ton from that book. So valuable for DIY boat work.
I don't know how to reply to individual posts, (sorry just got on today)
Under each post you should see a “reply with quote” link. That will put the contents of that post into a quote box in a new post so you can reply. If you just to quote want a part of a post you can select the text and you should get a pop-up for “reply w/ quote” right under the selection.
 
Jan 7, 2011
2,913
Oday 322 East Chicago, IN
If you know where the original VHF was installed, look all around for the coax cable that connects to your new radio…

Should look like one of these provided by @jssailem :
1631457023506.png


Looks like you already have power connection there in your photo.

It is hard to believe that the audio plug in your photo was somehow connected to your old radio as an antenna… if it was, looks like you have some extra work to do. But hopefully you can find the coax cable, hook it up and have a working VHF radio.

i have replaced several on different boats and left the old antenna and cabling in place.

One other word of wisdom…if you find the cable, hook everything up and still get bad reception or cannot transmit, the cable itself can degrade, chafe, short out and need to be replaced. Hopefully not, but since you don’t know too much about the history of the boat…who knows.

For going aloft, if necessary, I would try to hire a rigger or if you know people at the marina, maybe someone has a chair and is willing to go up the mast to help,you. You need at least 1 person to crank the winch. We send one of the “lighter” guys up (and is a pretty good mechanic, so once he gets up there, he can usually fix things). The other guys take turns on the winch.

Good luck on your new adventure. Always lots to learn about boat systems, hardware, sailing the boat, etc…

Cheers,

Greg
 
Apr 8, 2010
1,624
Ericson Yachts Olson 34 28400 Portland OR
Why did I think the old/new cables weren't compatible? I was told by a guy at the boat store that I had to buy all new everything. Not sure if he was mistaken or if he was trying to meet his sales quota haha.
It's normal to replace coax after XX years. The cable insulation layers start to break down, moisture seeps into one end, and the impedance changes. You often do not realize that you have lost transmit or receive strength until you replace an old cable and notice how much better it all works. (!)
We just rebuilt our spar with new standing rigging, and all wiring, after about 18 years, and both our ship wright and our rigger strongly advised us to replace the coax, so I did. A good technician can advise of the best model of cable to use. Hint: it's not the cheapest or flimsiest one, either.....
:)
 
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May 17, 2004
3,470
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
Related question for the group - if @HeatherE finds a coax wire with the right connector laying somewhere, is there any test she should do to make sure the antenna is properly connected to the coax before connecting to the radio? I’ve read that in some cases transmitting without an antenna can damage a radio. Is there any easy-to-do test to make sure that won’t happen?
 
Oct 22, 2014
16,100
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
David. Reading in an Aviation radio forum this was posted. It applies here as well.

Your radio shop may be able to test the SWR of the antenna working with the COM radio. That would be my starting point. However, sometimes problems like these are intermittent and difficult to isolate.​
You can test the antenna with an ohm meter but that will not measure the impedance at transmit frequencies. An SWR meter will.​
Unfortunately, unless your other hobby is ham radio, you may not have the equipment on hand to check out transmitter operation. But your radio shop will.​
They will also have a dummy load for testing the transmitter.​

A while back I remember @BrianD posted some radio test equipment he saw on line. It was aimed at the SSB radio operators. But could work on VHF. Just not a common tool many would have on their boat. It would get a lot of storage time.
 
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Jun 21, 2004
1,884
Beneteau 343 Slidell, LA
Your radio shop may be able to test the SWR of the antenna working with the COM radio. That would be my starting point. However, sometimes problems like these are intermittent and difficult to isolate.​
When I was checking out problems with my VHF, I purchased an inexpensive SWR meter from Amazon or Ebay. Really need to check the whole system including radio, coax cable, cable connectors, and antenna; therefore, it needs to be analyzed on board. If the reading isn't satisfactory, then it is a matter of trouble shooting each component.
As John mentioned, if the problem lies in the radio, a trip to the radio shop or sending it to a manufacturer's facility will be required.
Since Heather has a new radio, that would be the least likely problem source in the system; however, it is possible.
 
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Feb 17, 2006
5,102
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
She is best served by contacting a local Amateur Radio Operator who would probably have the necessary equipment to test the system. They would be very happy to assist.
 

SFS

.
Aug 18, 2015
1,972
West Marine Kayak Tampa Bay
She is best served by contacting a local Amateur Radio Operator who would probably have the necessary equipment to test the system. They would be very happy to assist.
Brian speaks the truth. What I did when I had issues was to contact the local Ham Radio club in St. Petersburg. A fellow sailor, who was also a Ham operator, came out to the boat, and ran a series of checks with several pieces of his gear. The result was that I did not need a new antenna. He wouldn't let me pay him, or buy him a case of beer. He said he did this for folks a lot, and enjoyed helping fellow sailors.
 
Oct 24, 2010
2,399
Hunter 30 Everett, WA
If you would like to send me a PM I will give you my phone number and I would certainly talk with you about what you have. I am a retired and licensed professional and I would be happy to give you advice or suggestions to resolve this. I just hate to see you throw away a bunch of time and money based on assumptions.

It looks like you have a speaker connector that you're thinking goes to the antenna. That is not the case That looks like a quarter inch phone plug in the picture. You are looking for a black or white cable that is relatively stiff compared to the one in your picture and a connector that mates with the back of the VHF radio. I'm guessing that the end of the cable has just fallen out of your view.

Ken
 
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dLj

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Mar 23, 2017
1,827
Belliure 41 Now on the Chesapeake
If you would like to send me a PM I will give you my phone number and I would certainly talk with you about what you have. I am a retired and licensed professional and I would be happy to give you advice or suggestions to resolve this. I just hate to see you throw away a bunch of time and money based on assumptions.

It looks like you have a speaker connector that you're thinking goes to the antenna. That is not the case That looks like a quarter inch phone plug in the picture. You are looking for a black or white cable that is relatively stiff compared to the one in your picture and a connector that mates with the back of the VHF radio. I'm guessing that the end of the cable has just fallen out of your view.

Ken
@HeatherE Now there's one heck of a fine offer!

@Ken Cross too bad you're on the west coast.... I'd put you to work out here... ;)

dj
 
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Aug 22, 2021
14
1992 mcgregor 26s san diego
Hi, new sailor here. Cal34. I just installed a new VHF and the antenna at the top of the mast needs to be replaced. Curious if I should hire someone or purchase whatever is needed to do it myself? I am solo, so if it requires two people for me to climb, it's a no go. Would love suggestions on what I would need to purchase to climb if it can be a one-person adventure. Thanks!
only thing on here I'm qualified to answer.. DO IT... lol
 
May 29, 2018
297
Canel 25 foot Shiogama, japan
Hi Heather
My guess is that that plug is to plug in some audio speakers.
1631521058978.png


You would find out easy enough by tracing it back.
Now back to the original post
Hi, new sailor here. Cal34. I just installed a new VHF and the antenna at the top of the mast needs to be replaced

1. Is there an antenna atop the mast?
2, Can you find the co-ax cable leaving the base of the mast?
3. Where does that cable end?

You might be in luck that you have a cable and (working) antenna.
Or if there has never been a radio fitted, you will have no antenna AND no cable.
Best of luck
gary
 
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Apr 24, 2017
1
Cal 34 III San Diego
Hello! My wife and I live on a 1979 Cal 34 and I replaced the VHF with a Standard-Horizon a few years ago when I bought the boat. My co-ax radio wire headed to the mast is silver, about ⅜", marked RG-8 (the wire type). You may need to dig around to check for it, but there should be something fairly close to the mast compression post. Mine exits to the port storage space, just at the front of the main cabin.I seem to remember that I didn't need any adapter to the new radio (although that doesn't mean someone hadn't already put on a newer cable connector.

And don't get hung up on the "old salts" telling you to look for a white or black wire. Mine is SILVER, and in areas where it's been getting dirty, it looks more grey.
 

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Jun 30, 2020
28
Hunter 356 Noank, CT
Hi John and Pagan Baby: Yeah, good point. I am not a climber (yet) haha... I think I will bite the bullet on this one and outsource. I am replacing the antenna because the coax cable is different. (boat is a '78 and I'm replacing the original VHF with a Standard Horizon.) If there's a way to use the current antenna and avoid paying someone to climb, that would make my day! Cheers!
Heather, the coax cable on a 1978 vhf radio would be a 50 ohm standard cable such as RG8U and todays vhf rigs use the same 50 ohm value in a cable. The style may be slightly different but the important point is that it is 50 ohms. TV coax on the other hand is 75 ohm cable and should not be used. It is commonly known as RG6 cable. If the original cable is intact and not shorting out, you will be fine in hooking up the new radio to the same connector and antenna.
 
Dec 25, 2000
5,048
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
Hi Heather. Lots of good advice thus far. Yes, you can hire a monkey to climb the mast for you, but all you need is a good bosun's chair and two sail boat helpers; one to hoist you up using the main halyard winch and another as a backup using a spar halyard, such as the topping lift on a spare winch. Perfectly safe done right.

Been up (60+ feet) a number of times to do this or that. Learned much during the process. Dropping the mast is an alternative, but a bit more complex due to many considerations. Standing rigging, back stay, fore stay, mast base electrical connections, drip loop, crane to lift it off and replace, boom connection, etc., etc., etc.

Doing things yourself helps you to get to know your boat, how the various systems work and problem solving experience. My vote is to do it yourself and learn from it. Otherwise, when it comes time with no one around to hire, what do you do?
 
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Sep 11, 2021
24
CAL 34 CAL 34 Fortman Marina
Hello! My wife and I live on a 1979 Cal 34 and I replaced the VHF with a Standard-Horizon a few years ago when I bought the boat. My co-ax radio wire headed to the mast is silver, about ⅜", marked RG-8 (the wire type). You may need to dig around to check for it, but there should be something fairly close to the mast compression post. Mine exits to the port storage space, just at the front of the main cabin.I seem to remember that I didn't need any adapter to the new radio (although that doesn't mean someone hadn't already put on a newer cable connector.

And don't get hung up on the "old salts" telling you to look for a white or black wire. Mine is SILVER, and in areas where it's been getting dirty, it looks more grey.
thanks, My boat is very similar in age. Will check that out tomorrow! I called someone to climb the mast, but have 2 weeks before he's available so the clock is ticking for me to have a solution before :)