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Deano 07-13-2017 03:50 PM

My hairy antenna.
1 Attachment(s)
Attachment 66705
My main vhf mast is 16' tall and when raised brings my bridge clearance to 37'. So often times we have to raise and lower this hairy beast while underway.
Does anyone have any suggestions on how to coat this so it doesn't give me a dose of fiberglass every time I'm near it? Using gloves helps but it still always gets me. Any recommendations on coatings that will not affect performance?

dw8928 07-13-2017 03:52 PM

Must be a European antenna

BrotherDave 07-13-2017 03:57 PM

Sand it smoother and paint it or gelcoat it?

SaltyDawg86 07-13-2017 04:20 PM

I've read it means the fiberglass is shot and time to buy a new one. Doing your own fiberglass job could help. If you mess up, you need a new one anyway.

psneeld 07-13-2017 04:22 PM

Absolutely the antenna is fine.....unless bad for a diffetent reason than hairy fiberglass.

I have sanded and painted dozens through the years.

Paint or gel coat is just a preference...but the performance should be fine if it is good now and you dont use some unusual paint.

Comodave 07-13-2017 04:32 PM

+1 on sanding and painting.

gaston 07-13-2017 04:37 PM

2 minute job electrical heat shrink sleeve and a hair drier ;)

psneeld 07-13-2017 04:57 PM


Originally Posted by gaston (Post 572721)
2 minute job electrical heat shrink sleeve and a hair drier ;)

Over a complete 16' antenna?

You have some really good heat shrink!

menzies 07-13-2017 05:01 PM


Originally Posted by dw8928 (Post 572707)
Must be a European antenna

I see what you did there... :D

seasalt007 07-13-2017 05:01 PM

Sand it and paint with white gloss Rustoleum. Will not affect the antenna properties one bit.

I have been doing this for years and have not missed a call.

ranger42c 07-13-2017 05:03 PM

Is it an 8' antenna on top of an 8' extension?

If only the extension is the hairy part, sanding alone may solve it... and if not, some paint would probably smooth it out...


Comodave 07-13-2017 05:14 PM

Does heat shrink have enough UV protection to stand up to the sun every day?

mbevins 07-13-2017 05:22 PM

From the picture it looks like it is just your base extension. I sanded and repainted mine two years ago with white marine Polyeurothane. It looks great, with no issues.
If you're doing the actual antenna you have to watch that whatever paint you choose has no metals in it. Apparently some do and this is a problem as per the Shakespeare website.

Ski in NC 07-13-2017 05:38 PM

Wear gloves!!! I messed with one of those and those fibers afflicted me horribly.

gaston 07-13-2017 05:44 PM


Originally Posted by Comodave (Post 572738)
Does heat shrink have enough UV protection to stand up to the sun every day?

It was on 3 years when I sold the boat and still looked ok

Larry M 07-13-2017 06:50 PM


Originally Posted by gaston (Post 572721)
2 minute job electrical heat shrink sleeve and a hair drier ;)

16' of heat shrink?

Sand and paint. We've used one part Interlux Brightsides polyurethane and a brush after their primer. We did thin a bit so the paint flowed better. The antennas still look great after 9 years. :thumb:

rwidman 07-13-2017 06:52 PM


Originally Posted by psneeld (Post 572728)
Over a complete 16' antenna?

Just on the part he has to touch to lower and raise the antenna. Six inches worth should do it.

My choice would probably be to replace the antenna with a new one. Sanding and painting it would work for a while.

Deano 07-13-2017 07:04 PM

Replace with new one, not happening

Lou_tribal 07-13-2017 07:13 PM

only one solution:



Gmarr 07-13-2017 07:35 PM

The number ONE thing I remember from searching for a boat is the ONE hairy antennae I touched one day and feeling those little fibers for days afterwards. When shopping for "stuff" after I bought the boat was looking at a scotch brite pad and saying "I might need it for the god damn antennae someday"!!!

Chrisjs 07-14-2017 07:02 AM

Sand lightly and brush paint with Rustoleum oil based paint (not rattle can). You need to get 2-3 coats to properly cover the hairy stuff. Also, find a way to hang the antenna while you paint, so that paint runs down the length rather than pools on the underside. Did mine. Looked and felt better than new!!

ktdtx 07-14-2017 11:48 AM

Rescue Tape??

Chrisjs 07-14-2017 12:45 PM

Unless yours is different, my 'rescue tape" did not stand up at all well when exposed to sunlight. It seemed like UV degraded it pretty quickly. So you would end up replacing "hairy" with "sticky"!!!

stubones99 07-14-2017 12:59 PM

I would mix up some epoxy and paint it with a heavy coat. once it cures, use an orbital sander to sand off the stray hairs, then coat it with another coat to seal it.

Is the damage from weather or lightning? I had one that blew out with a lightning strike. Looked like a brush on one end. Simply replaced it, and the radio, wiring, etc.

rwidman 07-14-2017 01:00 PM

Few things in life are forever so replacing it makes sense to me. I replaced mine a few months ago because the outside surface was failing (but apparently not as badly as the OP's) and I could hear the element inside rattling when I shook the antenna.

A VHF antenna is an important piece of safety equipment so this is not the place to "cheap out". I don't know about the OP's 16' antenna but my 8' antenna was about $150 and I got a top of the line model. At my age, I expect it to last a lifetime.

psneeld 07-14-2017 01:49 PM

Antenna output is usually pretty easy to check.

They last a long time, longer than the fiberglass support, especially if it is just an extension and nothing to do with the actual antenna....even if it is the antenna, the outside of the glass has nothing to do with the antenna performance.

Replacing faulty gear or things that wear out is one thing, a simple spruce up to fully functioning gear makes a lot of sense to me.

The less expensive antennas have wire as the antenna and it just hangs in the fiberglass. The better antennas have a copper rod for the antenna and is usually affixed well inside the fiberglass support tube.

I have repaired many a broken antenna where just the glass was broken but the actual antenna was fine. They work 100 percent and have for decades on commercial boats and my own.

LarryM 07-14-2017 02:40 PM

I agree with Psneld, if there are no active elements in the lower mast, just paint it and forget it. If, however, it is active, avoiding metallic paints seems to be the the common advice from electronics pros.

If the antenna is really old, while you are at it, you might also inspect the coaxial cable for signs of deterioration and especially check the connectors for corrosion etc. Most antenna performance issues are related to the connectors and cable, not the actual antenna unless it is physically damaged.

When you are done, if you haven't already, try out the Sea Tow automated radio check system. Just make a call on VHF 26 or 27, and a couple seconds later, it will be rebroadcast back to you, so you get to hear exactly how well you are transmitting. You can check here for the station location nearest you:

Happy painting:thumb:

Deano 07-14-2017 08:25 PM

Thanks for all the responses. I like the idea of coating first and sanding second after much of the hair is incapsulated.

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