Mar2013: Once Was Blind

RADAR ROCKS…

Click here for this PropTalk online-edition (March 2013)

March 2013 PropTalk Cover

March 2013’s PropTalk Cover

I once was blind  Another great feature of this time of year on the Chesapeake is the ability to put dreams from that long winter’s nap into action; a time to bond with your boat without fear of taking your ride out-of-action while anxious family and friends stand on the pier.  And if you’re anything like me, there is still time to order parts, attempt the repair, re-order correct parts, try again, order more parts…  I’m one of those people who are constantly thinking, “How can I make it better?”  “How can I make it safer?”  When everyone is chillin’ and relaxin’ on those good days aboard, my marbles are rolling around thinking, “How can I extend uptime so we can enjoy more of this?”  It’s a curse made easier through decades on the water, showing winter is the time for tinkering.  A problem during the 2011-season interfered with cruising and uptime, but more importantly was a safety-related issue involving my favorite time to cruise: dusk and beyond.  Following dinner one night in Baltimore, something like a 4x4 was sucked-up into the prop-pocket while on-plane cruising home on the Patapsco with three-generations of family on-board.  After a couple-thousand in repairs thanks to that lumber, I finally pulled the trigger by ordering and installing a new radar antenna during last winter’s hibernation.  Yes, I know radar won’t detect wooden flotsam in the Patapsco and now I know it won’t detect crab-pot markers in the Chesapeake either.  But, since I always tackle the difficult projects first, installation of radar before installation of a FLIR just seemed to be a better first-step toward safe cruising in all conditions.  Much akin to people who buy a security-system after their house has been robbed, adding radar to our boat was something I had considered for years.  We routinely boated at night on Great Lake Ontario (for a couple decades), driving 40-50MPH without radar and luckily without incident, but the Chesapeake is significantly more cluttered.  Not only does it offer the obvious collision-avoidance forward, but the radar-overlay on my chartplotter also lets me know when another craft is coming up on my stern… something difficult to keep an eye on visually from the helm while underway.  Overall, not something you’d want to tackle during the boating season by yourself, but completely worth my 2-months’ effort for procurement and installation.  Probably old-hat to many boaters I see bombing-around the Bay with their spinning open-arrays or closed-radomes, information the radar provides to the helm is unmatched, especially in poor conditions.  I mistakenly allowed other people to talk me out of installing one for years, calling it unnecessary or an expensive toy; perhaps those are the same people I see returning to port every afternoon, unwilling to be on the water after dusk.  Instead, let me talk you into getting one.  Honestly, you don’t need anything fancy.  While a large open-array can show shape-details of that thingy a mile-out (or weather 70-miles away), an inexpensive antenna will still let you know something is in your path, and that’s ultimately what this is all about.  I can say without hesitation after using it for a complete season, purchase and installation of radar onto my cruiser is the single-best improvement for operation and safety I’ve made to-date; I shouldn’t have waited so long.  My small closed-dome detects everything day and night, during clear weather and severe storms.  So, do that work you’ve always thought about now while your boat is in storage; the object is keeping your craft in-use during the upcoming season.  Spend a little money now to save a lot later, using safety as your justification… always manages to get my spouse’s approval, anyway.

A March 2013 PropTalk article featuring the Christina Rose, written by Mike Edick

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Click here for this PropTalk online-edition (March 2013)

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