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Old 02-11-2013, 09:06 PM   #1
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Radar on the ICW

Hello -
We have been learning about trawlers, attending some events, etc. for the last year or so. Even took a training course. We plan to do the southeast coast ICW, and maybe the Bahamas.
As an admitted "newbie", I admit to have been heavily influenced by Skipper Bob. He says that generally, south of Norfolk, extended fog is rare, and on the ICW, you generally have the option to wait it out before leaving in the morning. Sounds like good advice to me, and I don't plan to be be out at night.
The admiral-to-be and I were having a discussion about the value of radar under those conditions. I said that if we were fortunate enough to buy a new boat that did not have radar installed, I would consider not having it. She heartily disagreed.
So given my parameters (and I know there is always the unexpected), what you you experienced folks think about the notion of going without - at least initially?
Thank you!
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:43 PM   #2
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Personally...I wouldn't have a boat without radar...at least not larger than my dinghy.

I would have to take a little bit of issue with Skipper Bob... While fog that lasts days on end is not prevalent on the east coast...that is not what I would be worried about. I'm not going to move in the fog...certainly not in the ICW... But what I do have my radar for is in the event that a fogbank rolls in while we are out there on the ICW or offshore.... I want to be able to see what is around me, and who is around me... I spent a lot of time in GA...on the east coast...and there was no shortage of fog... Get the radar. Learn how to use it... Being caught in the fog and literally blind..is not fun.... Becoming very disoriented in a channel is bad...and you cannot rely entirely on a GPS to keep you on the magenta line....
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:49 PM   #3
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I think you post a fair question. I've lived and boated in SW Florida for over 20 years and it is rare to get fog so bad that a radar is needed. However it does happen and has happened to me aboard a non radar equipped sailboat.

Most boats owned by TF members are of the size that typically have radar as we do aboard our 35' motor yacht. I use it most of the time but rarely use it for navigation. It's fun sometimes to track other boats and watch their speed in no wake zones.

If your budget doesn't allow for radar I wouldn't sweat it and watch the weather. Down here the weather visibility forecasts are pretty accurate.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:55 PM   #4
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I have left marinas and anchorages in the clear, and then ran into a fog bank. Especially in the Georgia ICW and along the Panhandle GICW. Radar comes in very handy at those times. A radar overlay on the chart plotter is even better. Love it.

A radar also comes in very useful to track thunder storms. You can get by without radar, but I wouldn't want to.
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:03 PM   #5
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If your budget doesn't allow for radar I wouldn't sweat it and watch the weather. Down here the weather visibility forecasts are pretty accurate.
We don't have radar here in NC and don't miss it. There has been one time in 4 years when we wish we had it, but that was a freak day fog on Bogue Sound. Still, someday we DO want it. However, we are in no hurry. There is a list of stuff as long as my arm that we need to improve our boating experience before we get to radar. Don't let the existence of radar be the deal-breaker for cruising the ICW. Especially in the summer. The difference in water temps versus air temp is not great enough - often enough for it to fog very often.

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Old 02-11-2013, 11:14 PM   #6
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We have our radar on even during clear days. Two reasons which come to mind are:

1. Able to track other vessels (tankers, container ships, ferries, etc) as "targets" to calculate intersect and crossing points, and
2. We can see what's approaching from behind as our rear visibility isn't as good as a raised pilot-house boat.

I'm sure others will add to the list.
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:53 PM   #7
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I have used my radar twice on the ICW. On both occasions I had pushed on after dark to make a nice anchorage. I know that it isn't a good idea to run the ditch at night, but....

Having radar overlay the chartplotter is very comforting. The GPS tells you where you are; the chartplotter tells you where the buoy should be; and radar tells you where the buoys and other traffic is.

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Old 02-12-2013, 12:34 AM   #8
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If my boat's moving, the radar is on. You need to learn how to use it, adjust it, and interpret what it's showing you while it's clear. Not when the SHTF.
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Old 02-12-2013, 06:03 AM   #9
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Chances are if you don't go to Maine , you will never miss it.
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Old 02-12-2013, 06:54 AM   #10
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I cruise the AICW and do not have radar on my boat. If it's foggy, I stay where I am until it clears up. I rarely travel at night.

I make it a point to never go so fast that I cannot stop in the distance I can see.

I think you'll be fine without radar.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:07 AM   #11
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Currently on a 4 month trip between NJ and Ga. Left without RADAR...not in this years budget but will have it next year.

I have been navigating with RADAR professionally for around 35 years and can use it pretty well.

My advice is similar to others...you really don't need it...it just adds flexibility and a little comfort if caught unexpectedly.

Recreational boating is about fun and electronics while not necessary make boating so much easier..stress is reduced making it more FUN!

One issue with RADAR is if you aren't fairly proficient with it...it's OK to use for not getting run over by something big...but navigating the narrow, twisting and very shallow bends of the ICW would be out of most cruisers abilities so staying put is a great option over spending the $1500-2000 on the RADAR.

And for those that say their cheap little RADAR units work just fine either have so much experience they truly understand how limited they are or don't have enough experience to truly know how limited they are.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:51 AM   #12
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I have cruised the east coast for the last ten years logging well over 15,000 miles (6,000 in less then the last two years) Maine to the Keys and have never had radar. It has never been an issue for us. Frankly the few times we have been caught in fog the fog was never thick enough at our slow speeds that we could see far enough ahead. We have a Standard Horizon VHF680 with a hailer and automated fog signals which we turn on in the case of fog.

If our boat had a modern chart overlay radar it would be nice but for me it's primary value would be for our night cruising offshore. It really comes down to personal preference and whatever it takes to keep you comfortable. If a radar makes you feel safer and therefore the experience is more fun then by all means put it high on your list, they are not expensive.

PS. Our last two boats had radar but the systems were old and no overlay so I ripped them out and sold them.
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:03 AM   #13
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Chances are if you don't go to Maine , you will never miss it.

But if you primarily boat in Maine you will need it and use it. Unless you don't care to leave the harbor for a good portion of the (short) boating season.

We have our radar on whenever we go out. Sometimes just in standby mode if no fog but, more often than not, transmitting even if just for practice and to enhance situational awareness.
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:05 AM   #14
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If my boat's moving, the radar is on. You need to learn how to use it, adjust it, and interpret what it's showing you while it's clear. Not when the SHTF.
I agree, ours is on when we leave the dock.

Then again you could always have a video that you could pop in and become an expert in less that 30 minutes as Marin claims.
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:09 AM   #15
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No fog here but I would have it just to have a back up for gps. We run islands and marshbanks and that stuff is always on the move. Besides the occasional thunderstorm during the day just don't run at night. You should be ok.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:23 PM   #16
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For every opinion you get that you don't need it, you'll get another that says you do and then there are the opinions that you can take it or leave it. I hope this will bring you to the realization that whether you need radar or not will be decided by you. Every boat is a compilations of the wants and needs of the individual. Every post you have received so far is correct. For that Skipper. It's good to have input from fellow boaters but decide what's important to you and then go with that. Chuck
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:17 PM   #17
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For every opinion you get that you don't need it, you'll get another that says you do and then there are the opinions that you can take it or leave it. I hope this will bring you to the realization that whether you need radar or not will be decided by you. Every boat is a compilations of the wants and needs of the individual. Every post you have received so far is correct. For that Skipper. It's good to have input from fellow boaters but decide what's important to you and then go with that. Chuck
Well yes, but, the OP is a beginner. He doesn't have a trawler or any cruising experience to base a decision on. That's why he asked.
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:44 PM   #18
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really to use radar effectively, you need to have had lessons and be able to interpret the picture, all the while driving your boat and navigating. It's a challenge best left to the experienced. In the ICW if not sure about what's ahead, just slow down or get off on the side. I have it, but usefullness is so/so.
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Old 02-12-2013, 10:10 PM   #19
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We used our radar twice during our ICW trip; rain & heavy haze in GA. Nice to have in combination with the paper charts & GPS plotter. We would have been fine without it, but it was comforting to have the additional info input on the bridge. Perhaps, as you build experience with your boat, you'll be able to make the decisions necessary to best equip your vessel so that your needs are met. Enjpy
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Old 02-12-2013, 10:41 PM   #20
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Not anywhere close to the AICW, but do not have it nor wish I did.
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