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Old 02-10-2013, 12:25 PM   #1
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radar reflectors

What's the reason that most boats like ours do not have radar reflectors. Is it because there is more mass higher above the water providing a larger target, so not as necessary or because of the lack of a good location to put it.?
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Old 02-10-2013, 02:54 PM   #2
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Probably. Don't forget that most of our boats have a lot of metal in them from engines and generators that are usually at least partially above the waterline to metal masts and booms on many boats to outboard motors on our dinghies, galley stoves, hot water heaters some of which, like ours, are completely above the waterline, the propane tanks in the locker on the flying bridge, and so on.

Our radar can "see" thing like birds that happen to fly through the beam to the six-inch or so fender washers that are part of a lot of the commercial crab pot float rigs around here. This is assuming the water is calm. Compared to those things our boat is the USS Nimitz in terms of its radar reflectivity.

We have a radar reflector on the port mast stay of our boat but I'd be willing to bet that if we took it down it would not make one bit of difference to the radar return from our boat.
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Old 02-10-2013, 08:41 PM   #3
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I have one one the round Davis reflectors wired under the radar mount on the mast. Like Marin I doubt it makes much difference but it is not in the way or causing me any problem so I'll leave it there.
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Old 02-10-2013, 09:04 PM   #4
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Our reflector is a Davis, too. It's position puts it out of the way and we installed it on the premise that "it can't hurt and it might help."
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Old 02-10-2013, 09:07 PM   #5
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Being a steel boat with lots of ninety-degree angles, the Coot is a radar reflector.

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Old 02-10-2013, 09:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markpierce View Post
Being a steel boat with lots of ninety-degree angles, the Coot is a radar reflector.
Yes, I would think the Coot shows up on radar displays like one of the Golden Gate Bridge piers. With all the traffic in the Bay this would seem to be a real advantage on foggy days.
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Old 02-10-2013, 10:04 PM   #7
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You should have one.
In high traffic areas, to be in compliance with the rules, you not only have to own one, you have to have it properly mounted where it can be "seen" by other boats' radar.

So, to answer the OP's question: ignorance.
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Old 02-10-2013, 10:17 PM   #8
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Your radar reflector is that big hunk(s) of metal in your engine room.
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Old 02-10-2013, 10:24 PM   #9
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Keith:

Not always. On a trip through fog, in a line of 6 boats (we were traveling together, so all going the same speed, some of us didn't have radar, so we were staying close enough to see the boat ahead) we were called by a passing fisherman who graded the quality of the return he got from each of us as he approached and passed us. One boat, the one with the most cast iron in the bilges, gave him no return until he could see it visually. The others, as you might expect, showed up according to the quality and position of the radar reflector.
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Old 02-10-2013, 10:59 PM   #10
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Our boat originally had a wood mast and boom but was replaced with a steel mast with a platform for the radar, I thought this would suffice. I'll have to get some one to try and see me so I know for sure.
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Old 02-10-2013, 11:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Your radar reflector is that big hunk(s) of metal in your engine room.
Which in most of our boats is below the water line...
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Old 02-10-2013, 11:22 PM   #12
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I once had a "light boat" captain working the Baton Rouge area tell me that the "plastic" boats without radar reflectors were difficult to see in the fog, even with his commercial radar unit.
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Old 02-11-2013, 06:00 AM   #13
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The "best " I have tested , (with my VP pals and a damn good radar ), is the old WWII collapsible units for life rafts.

These are only a few bucks each (when they can be found) and will last for a few months if always left up.

Mount high and you can be seen for close to 200 miles! Or at least to the edge range of a waterborne radar.

Great insurance for Maineaic cruisers ,
where amateurs will be operating in fog after reading DA Book that came with their new toy..
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Old 02-11-2013, 07:04 AM   #14
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You should have one.
In high traffic areas, to be in compliance with the rules, you not only have to own one, you have to have it properly mounted where it can be "seen" by other boats' radar..
What rules (link please) would those be?
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:03 AM   #15
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What rules (link please) would those be? __________________
Ron

I knew you would ask. I am presently thousands of miles from my boat, where I keep all of the materials given to me when I trained for the CCGA Courtesy Examinations (now RCM-SAR CE) which include the Colregs and some Coast Guard stuff. I don't want to try quoting from memory, and I can't look it up from where I am now (Palm Desert, CA enjoying the sun and warm temps).
You may have different rules where you boat on the right coast, but where I boat, RR is a "must have". Without one, no annual sticker to show that you comply with all the current rules.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:03 AM   #16
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I suggest that everyone who thinks they have a good radar signature check it out for real. I am often amazed at how even relatively large fiberglass vessels can still have a very weak signature. Our 64 mile Furuno radar is great yet these "stealth" vessels sometimes are there with next to no signature. After a near collision in thick fog at the entrance to the Narragansett some years back I fitted a reflector and a very loud air horn with automatic fog signaller. I fitted a large Trilens on the mast. The Trilens is reported to be the best passive reflector but "active" units are reported to be better. Some reflectors are not worth the space they take up (there is very good UK report from MAFFI). As I see it being seen on another vessel's radar is cheap insurance. Yes, we also have AIS!!
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:10 AM   #17
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International Collision Regulations Rule 40 - A vessel that is less than 20 metres in length or is constructed primarily of non-metallic materials shall be equipped with a passive radar reflector.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:15 AM   #18
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What rules (link please) would those be? __________________
Ron

I knew you would ask. I am presently thousands of miles from my boat, where I keep all of the materials given to me when I trained for the CCGA Courtesy Examinations (now RCM-SAR CE) which include the Colregs and some Coast Guard stuff. I don't want to try quoting from memory, and I can't look it up from where I am now (Palm Desert, CA enjoying the sun and warm temps).
You may have different rules where you boat on the right coast, but where I boat, RR is a "must have". Without one, no annual sticker to show that you comply with all the current rules.
I get a Coast Guard Auxilliary safety inspection every year and radar reflectors have never been mentioned. I will say this though; Runabouts, center consoles, and sport cruisers don't typically come from the factory with radar reflectors and I don't recall ever seeing on that's been added to one of these boats.

The previous owner of my boat left a folding radar reflector on it, but I've never used it.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:17 AM   #19
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As I see it being seen on another vessel's radar is cheap insurance. Yes, we also have AIS!!
Very good idea.
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Old 02-11-2013, 09:18 AM   #20
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Previous owner installed a cylindrical device on the mast. I have never asked anyone if it improves my "signature" .. then again, I can only recall two times we were out in conditions of really low visibility.
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