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Old 12-10-2009, 10:36 AM   #1
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Radar on

I was talking to a tec guy at Furuno. He said a radar unit works best which is used most. In other words you get more life out of a radar unit if you use it all the time.
He also said a radar unit has a life of about 8 to 10 years. Is this just sales guy talk to sell new units? How long has you unit been functioning? Do you run it all the time?

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Old 12-10-2009, 11:08 AM   #2
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RE: Radar on

Our old Rayathone that came with the boat was about 20 years and still working, but it dated the boat so re replaced it in 1997 and the last time I check the new one was still working. **


*
In the winter I turn all the electronic on for about 30 minutes to warm them up and eliminate any moisture.* I dont know if that really works but at least every couple of months I know they work.
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Old 12-10-2009, 12:41 PM   #3
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Radar on

While the technology is apples and oranges, in the manual given to every new PT boat crewman in WWII, a little publication called "Know Your PT" which contains everything you need to know including how many pairs of socks to bring, it states that the electronics on the boat--- which back then consisted of radios, a direction finder, gyro-compass, and as the war progressed perhaps a rudimentary radar--- should be "exercised" every day to keep them in good working order. Given that all this equipment used vacuum tubes, the instruction made sense as moisture and corrosion were big problems.

We run all our electronics on our GB every time we are at the boat, which is virtually every weekend, whether we take the boat out or not. The radio is often left on all day just to hear what's going on, but we run both plotters, the radar, the depth/knotmeter, the Loran, and the hailer/intercom for about 20 or 30 minutes. I have been told by the owner of the marine electronics shop that letting electronics sit for long periods of time unused in the humid/damp environment a boat lives in can lead to problems cropping up.

-- Edited by Marin on Thursday 10th of December 2009 01:42:17 PM
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Old 12-10-2009, 01:34 PM   #4
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RE: Radar on

the magnetron in the microwave.. er .. Radar, has an hour meter on it on my JRC. My old Furuno went about 25 years, but its magnetron had only about 1200 hrs on it when it all died. The hour meter would be unnecessary if the magnetron would last longer if used more. Other than that, the complonents shouldn't deteriorate with use, only with moisture or abuse.
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:03 PM   #5
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RE: Radar on

Hi Everyone,

A few years back, I was asked to write an article for a UK mag (Motor Boats monthly) regarding the use of radar. One area I was asked to verify was when radar should be used. For this, I visited the UK MAIB (Marine Accident and Investigation Branch), which examines and investigates all types of marine accidents for UK ships worldwide. I also met with the UK Coast Guard.

One point I'd missed completely which they both pointed out. The International (Anti) Coll regs call for radar to be on and working the moment a vessel is under way. Not an option.

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Old 12-10-2009, 08:27 PM   #6
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RE: Radar on

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Piers wrote:


One point I'd missed completely which they both pointed out. The International (Anti) Coll regs call for radar to be on and working the moment a vessel is under way. Not an option.

This is not the case in the US.* A lot of people think it is, but the USCG folks I've asked about it say it's not.* The wording of the rule in the COLREGs is---


(a) Every vessel shall use all available means appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions to determine if risk of collision exists. If there is any doubt such risk shall be deemed to exist.

(b) Proper use shall be made of radar equipment if fitted and operational, including long-range scanning to obtain early warning of risk of collision and radar plotting or equivalent systematic observation of detected objects.
Some people interpret*paragraph (a)*as meaning that if you have radar it must be on when the vessel is underway, but in fact that is not what the rule means(according to the USCG folks I've talked to and it's their rule).*

The thing that trips everyone up is the phrase "appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions."* According to the Coast Guard folks, "appropriate" is something you, the operator, decides upon.* Some things, like fog, darkness, rain, heavy traffic areas, etc. are obvious.* But if you are boating in clear weather without a vessel in sight,*you don't need to use the radar if you determine it is not appropriate to the conditions.

In paragraph (b) "proper use" does not mean use*the radar*all the time, it means use it properly when you use it.

Now, if you are happily cruising along in clear weather without a vessel in sight and you have the radar off and manage to do something stupid and collide with another vessel or cause another vessel to collide with you, and you have radar and you weren't using it, you can be found to be partially or completely at fault.* But to have radar and chose to not use it is not automatically*violating the COLREGs.* I was told that the rules were written deliberately this way to allow for extenuating circumstances.
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Old 12-10-2009, 09:22 PM   #7
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RE: Radar on

If you have a collision, you must be at least party at fault. The COLREGS are about apportioning that fault, not assigning 100% of the blame to one party. Failure to keep an adequate lookout will get you, if involved in a collision, as it seems obvious that the collision could not have occurred had either party kept an adequate lookout.
Radar should be used if you have it, regardless of the hours on the magnetron. If you never turn it on in good conditions, your level of comfort with what it is telling you will be lacking and you may miss some important information when it is on in bad conditions.
Even using the radar most of the time I am steering from the wheelhouse, mine only has a few hundred hours on the mag after 5 or 6 years. I have no worries that I will wear it out.
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Old 12-10-2009, 10:32 PM   #8
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RE: Radar on

Even though we are not required to, we do the same as Keith and use our radar whenever we are out. Since fog is very common on the waters we boat in, particularly in the fall, we feel that being familiar with what the radar display looks like vs. what's actually out there and being comfortable varying the gain and other controls to make sure we aren't missing any targets lets us transition smoothly from having good visibility to having poor or no visibility.

Even if this practice did shorten the life of the radar display, the price of a new component or entire display is peanuts compared to the price of needing the radar but not being familiar enough with its operation and running into something or letting something run into us.
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Old 12-11-2009, 06:00 AM   #9
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RE: Radar on

Quote:
Marin wrote:




(according to the USCG folks I've talked to and it's their rule).*
*It's the IMO's rule. The USCG enforces the rule which is in the CFRs as a result of US ratification of an international treaty.
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Old 12-11-2009, 11:53 AM   #10
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RE: Radar on

Our Predicted Log association recently voted down keeping the radar on when underway during a contest. Two of our members ran a contest up in Seattle and that is the rule up there. We left the decision of running the radar up to the individual member. It follows that if you have the radar on, you must maintain a radar watch. My radar is at the lower station. Does that mean we can never use the flybridge when the radar set is activated?
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Old 12-12-2009, 08:07 AM   #11
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RE: Radar on

"Radar should be used if you have it, regardless of the hours on the magnetron. If you never turn it on in good conditions, your level of comfort with what it is telling you will be lacking and you may miss some important information when it is on in bad conditions."

KOliver hit on why commercial operators always have their radars on, that you can*become educated on how to interpret what the radar is telling you, and that has significant value when conditions are bad.

Quite a few years ago, my company sent me up to Ketchikan to run a tug towing an oil barge around SE Alaska due to sudden illness of the regular captain.* The first two trips through Wrangell Narrows were in excellent day-time conditions, and I had my head in the radar almost the whole time.**The third trip had fog and snow showers,*the "education" I had received on the earlier trips was critical for a safe transit.

The concept readily applies to recreational mariners as well.
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Old 12-12-2009, 01:07 PM   #12
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RE: Radar on

What is interesting about running the radar in daylight, is how many vessels do not show up on the screen. Trailerboats and sailboats not so good, aircraft carriers very good. We have a passive radar reflector on our radar arch. We got a "radar check" from another boat, so we know it works. Do you know what kind of "bounce" your vessel puts out?
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Old 12-13-2009, 06:04 AM   #13
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RE: Radar on

RATS! We have a 'NEW" ( to us) sail boat with a 30 year old radar .

Should I turn it on or simply scrap it?

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Old 12-14-2009, 08:58 AM   #14
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RE: Radar on

Finding someone whose boat can be seen with the naked eye but not at all with the radar gives you an opportunity to fine tune your set, and when you still can't get a return, to call the other boater and report his status.
Most will appreciate the need to find themselves a good (or better) radar reflector, or just to deploy the one they have stowed below.
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Old 12-14-2009, 09:22 AM   #15
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RE: Radar on

I have found that a passave radar reflector works even stowed under the seat on the fly bridge.
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Old 12-14-2009, 01:33 PM   #16
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Radar on

Something often overlooked when it comes to radar reflectors are the engines in your boat, the outboard on your dinghy, your anchor windlass, etc.. About half the vertical height of the engines in our boat, and the generator, are above the waterline. Same thing with our two large stainless steel water tanks in the lazarette, the rectangular, stainless steel ten-gallon hot water tank in the aft head next to the hull, and the stainless steel fuel tanks which run up all the way up to the bottom of the main cabin sole on both sides of the boat. In a fiberglass boat, all these things reflect radar signals quite effectively.

-- Edited by Marin on Monday 14th of December 2009 02:35:47 PM
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Old 12-15-2009, 04:08 AM   #17
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RE: Radar on

Back in the Day , we tested all the units we could borrow of the then common radar refectors with a big nasty P2V radar..

It could find a periscope at 200nm or a piling simply bobbing in the water at near the same range.

The old surplus unit that was for life rafts worked far far bettewr than any others.

My guess is it is simple surface area , but they last a season in the NE so would be cheap insurance.

Stick it high or low and you will still paint like a 200ft surface ship.

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Old 12-15-2009, 11:35 AM   #18
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RE: Radar on

Quote:
Marin wrote:

This is not the case in the US.* A lot of people think it is, but the USCG folks I've asked about it say it's not.
Hi Marin. Interesting. This is diametrically opposite to that which the UK Coastguard and MAIB stated in writing to me. I used their quotes in the Motor Boats Monthly article.

I would have thought that col-regs were col- regs, but perhaps I'm wrong and that each country can put their own interpretation on them.

Perhaps it's a case that if you bring your boat to UK waters, don't forget to turn your radar on, and if I bring mine to the USA, I can turn it off to conserve the magnetron!
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Old 12-15-2009, 11:41 AM   #19
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RE: Radar on

Quote:
Marin wrote:

Something often overlooked when it comes to radar reflectors are the engines in your boat, the outboard on your dinghy, your anchor windlass, etc.. About half the vertical height of the engines in our boat, and the generator, are above the waterline. Same thing with our two large stainless steel water tanks in the lazarette, the rectangular, stainless steel ten-gallon hot water tank in the aft head next to the hull, and the stainless steel fuel tanks which run up all the way up to the bottom of the main cabin sole on both sides of the boat. In a fiberglass boat, all these things reflect radar signals quite effectively.

-- Edited by Marin on Monday 14th of December 2009 02:35:47 PM
Hi Marin (again),

And don't forget the big hole the boat makes in the water. That's a great reflector in itself.

Are you also aware the IMO regs on radar reflectors are changing, demanding that reflectors must respond to both s and x radars? Referring to past tests, that leaves only one reflector in the UK which currently meets the new regs, and that's an active system (the Sea-Me) (it appears that none of the current passive systems will meet the new regs).

Interesting times ahead...

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