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Old 12-28-2018, 08:21 PM   #1
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Radar "Required" or "Optional" for Great Loop?

When searching for a 38' - 40' trawler-style boat to do the America's Great Loop on, how important is radar (assuming the boat has GPS ChartPlotter)?

Do any YF members who have done the Great Loop consider radar to be "required?" Or is it just a "nice to have" "optional" piece of navigation equipment?

Thanks,

Peace and blessings,

Larry Buchman
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Old 12-28-2018, 09:02 PM   #2
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Don't know much about crossing the Great Lakes. That would be the main area that I think radar would be useful. Along the Atlantic ICW, the Hudson, the Erie Canal, the rivers of central US and the Gulf Coast, not so much.


But you can just hang out at anchor for another day and the fog will usually clear.


David
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Old 12-28-2018, 09:12 PM   #3
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Greetings,
Mr. 75. The only thing I would add to the "Great Lakes" comment is radar is VERY useful for spotting and potentially avoiding rain squalls.
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Old 12-28-2018, 09:17 PM   #4
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It depends on your schedule and side trips. When up in the great lakes and the rivers heading to the Gulf of Mexico, there were a number of days where morning fog would keep you at the dock without radar. There were a few days where you could get fog in the afternoon. Crossing the NE corner of the Gulf of Mexico is a night crossing unless you have a planing hull boat. All that having been said, there are people who do it without radar. You just need to allow for more days or mornings where you will stay at the dock. Having radar doesn't mean you should go in pea soup fog, but it can be the difference between going and sitting with maybe 200' visibility. If you get radar and have little experience with it, plan on a significant learning curve. Plan on using it for weeks on clear days before you need it, so that you understand what it's showing you and how it compares to your chart plotter picture.

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Old 12-28-2018, 09:47 PM   #5
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I would not go without radar. Until you have had radar it is pretty wpeasy to rationalize not having it. There will be a time or more that it will come in very handy not for just locating other boats but also rain squalls. Also for finding distance off the shore. Besides we never go anywhere without Radar our black lab.
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Old 12-28-2018, 09:55 PM   #6
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Radar is a time saver. You travel safer in poor visibility, when offshore you can quickly get a bearing and range to a port entrance if your GPS or plotter fails. It lets you see what's around in an anchorage during heavy fog.

If money is an issue, good used radars are usually on ebay or at marine dealers that take them as trade. They are better than none. They give a good picture, just not as good as new radars.
As a commercial fisherman, I could follow at a distance, someone with a secret fishing area and be in on the catch.
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Old 12-28-2018, 10:24 PM   #7
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Thank you; your feedback comments are greatly appreciated. I honestly don't know how bad or frequent fog is on the upper/northern part of Lake Michigan and Lakes Erie, Huron, or
Ontario -- but "sitting it out" is always good advice.

Peace and blessings,

Larry
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Old 12-28-2018, 10:27 PM   #8
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We added an arch and radar to our C Dory when we got to Mackinaw City during our loop. I was concerned about the trip down Lake Michigan, but we never needed it for the remainder or our trip, which ended on our return to Albany, New York
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Old 12-28-2018, 11:13 PM   #9
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That's good to know; out of curiosity, based upon your experience, how much would you suggest I budget for a radar arch and/or radar cost if the boat I purchase doen't have either? Radar only, if the boat already has a radar arch?

Peace and blessings,

Larry
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Old 12-28-2018, 11:16 PM   #10
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Very good advice (especially about following someone to good fishing grounds); thanks very much.

Peace and blessings,

Larry
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Old 12-28-2018, 11:21 PM   #11
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It sounds like you're saying Radar is a man's/boatet's best friend, yes? ;-)

I guess it falls in the "better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it" category of equipment.

Thanks for your comments and advice. I especially I'll like the suggestion of looking for a good used radar (electronic -- not canine) on eBay.

Peace and blessings,

Larry
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Old 12-28-2018, 11:25 PM   #12
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I use a Furuno 1715 that is 10-15yr old technology. I bought it new ten years ago and it has been a trooper. Not as good as the modern bling, but it gets the job done. It was not too expensive back then, and probably can be picked up used at a bargain.
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Old 12-28-2018, 11:36 PM   #13
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Great idea; if the boat I end up purchasing does not already have a radar, I'll plan on searching for a good working used one. Thanks for your reply and advice.

Peace and blessings,

Larry
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Old 12-29-2018, 06:50 AM   #14
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Radar is a nice option but as already mentioned, you need to use it frequently to get to the point where it is useful when you really need it.
Wrt used units: Unless you are doing your own install and integration, talk to your local electronics expert/dealer. The installation/integration can add significant $$ depending on compatibility. Many dealers/installers get trade-ins as folks replace their entire suite of electronics. Might be an easy or affordable solution.
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Old 12-29-2018, 07:29 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helm View Post
We added an arch and radar to our C Dory when we got to Mackinaw City during our loop. I was concerned about the trip down Lake Michigan, but we never needed it for the remainder or our trip, which ended on our return to Albany, New York
I'm guessing that, to get from Carrabelle on the Florida Panhandle to Tarpon Springs, you travelled only in daylight using the Carrabelle-Steinhatchee-Crystal River-Tarpon Springs route, and not the 170-mile overnight route directly to Tarpon Springs from Carrabelle. For those - you would not have been - concerned with their boat's deeper draft, the choice is almost always the 24-hour overnighter. I assure you, having radar aboard was useful and a great comfort.

Although most who make the crossing don't encounter much of anything overnight, twice we had boats cross our path about one-half mile in front of us. Given that, at the time, we were pitching significantly, sometimes violently, there would have been a good chance that we would not have picked up their running lights. Standing at the lower helm it was all I could do just to hang on never mind trying to discern running lights from the lower helm station through the dark and wet windshield. Being able to sit down and simply monitor the radar screen was the best I could do. It worked. Those two boats appeared as big, obvious targets moving across our bow.

We are in Fort Myers now having started our Loop last May from Annapolis.
That nighttime crossing was the only time we needed and used the radar but we were sure glad we had it that night. That said, a 32-foot sailboat left Carrabelle at the same time, no radar. For a time, earlier in the night before the heavy seas began, we could see his running lights about 2 miles off but he did not appear on our radar. He obviously did not reflect radio waves being small, low profile, and having no radar reflector. Very risky in my opinion.

If my guess was incorrect then, well, my experience is my experience and is offered as another data point. My wife was frightened that night. I was not but I was concerned, aware, and vigilant. If you had been out there that night in your C-Dory, it would not have been pleasant. As it was, even in our stabilized DeFever 44 weighing 54,000 pounds, it was a rough crossing. Having radar removed one very big concern from the overall.
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Old 12-29-2018, 08:22 AM   #16
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Your comment made me think of contacting electronics dealers/installers about more than just a radar, in case the other electronics on the boat are outdated or nonfunctional. Thanks!
Peace and blessings,
Larry
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Old 12-29-2018, 08:45 AM   #17
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Personally, I consider radar more important than a chart plotter, if I had to pick one. . We've run into fog and bad visibility (and of course, night time) the entire length of the east coast and a good deal of the gulf coast. To me it's the chart plotter that is a "nice to have" and the radar a "need to have" for extended cruising. Great for tracking weather, as mentioned by RT.
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Old 12-29-2018, 08:47 AM   #18
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Radar and AIS, get both
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Old 12-29-2018, 09:15 AM   #19
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I agree with others about radar. A list of it uses on our loop that I recall are
You will travel in lots of areas for the first time, good to compare the radar picture with your chart plotter and gps. Very good way to determine if your anchor is holding along with the gps co-ordinates and picking the right spot in the anchorage so your not to close to the shoreline or other anchored boats. We used it to see around corners on the TennTom, helps to warn you that a tow is right around the bend heading towards you. On Mobile Bay we left the marina in sun shine but five miles out in the bay pea soup fog. Crossing Lake Huron means crossing the track of ocean size ships, good to know if your on a collision course. All in all we use our radar when ever we are underway it’s a great safe boating tool.
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Old 12-29-2018, 09:25 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caltexflanc View Post
Personally, I consider radar more important than a chart plotter, if I had to pick one.
I've heard commercial captains make that comment many times, including the one who trained me. A compass and a radar - two very important nav tools.
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