Date: Sat Oct 20, 2001 3:22 pm

I didn't have much to do this morning except schlep the kids to dance lessons and a show. To kill some time I got my General License. Now I need to pick everyone's brains about Marine SSB and Ham radios. How about it, any expertise?

Date: Sun Oct 21, 2001 2:47 pm

I've had a ham license since a teenager, and have a Yaesu FT-840 ham rig on the boat now. There's a power-on option that, done once, allows the radio to transmit on any frequency from 1.8 to 30 MHz.

The radio cost $550 (used) over e-bay, and has performed flawlessly. I insulated one leg of the split backstay for the antenna, and installed a manual tuner near the radio. A manual tuner is a bit of a pain, but gets the SWR almost to 1:1 every time.

The installation gives routine worldwide coverage.

Things to watch out for:

- Get a radio that does allow general coverage

- The ground is critical. Recent tests in Sail (I think, June maybe) showed that the reqular approach of bonding 100 sq ft of copper to the hull doesn't work all that well. Better: run a short, wide, copper strap directly to a sea cock. That's what I did two years ago, and it's quite


- Run very heavy cable from the radio directly to the batteries. A little voltage drop is a huge problem.

A lot of people suffer from interference problems. One sailor I know has to have someone steer when he's talking on his SSB because it drives the autopilot nuts. Another finds his fridge pump switches on when talking. Mine sets of my radar detector when transmitting. Good grounding really helps, but the fact is you're radiating an awful lot of RF into a non-optimal antenna, so a bit of "weirdness" is not unexpected.

98% of the time I use maritime freqs, not ham. There are a lot of nets for sailors on the maritime frequencies. And most of the boats I talk to don't have the ham license, so are restricted to the maritime wavelengths.

But it's still possible to place phone calls on the ham bands, something I do occasionally when at sea. The Maritime Mobile Net has many people standing by willing and anxious to do a phone patch. This is an amazingly useful (and free) service, which makes it possible to check up on the family.

It would be great fun to set up a schedule for the upcoming GAM where we can chat with each other while headed there.

Date: Sun Oct 21, 2001 11:53 am

I just want to clarify that there is no problem using maritime frequencies on a radio that has not been certified for them. Is the FT-840 marine certified. The price sure does look good.

When you buy used ham equipment, how do you insure that it's working across the entire spectrum and features? One reason I don't buy used equipment is that I'm afraid of being stuck with a lemon.

Date: Sun Oct 21, 2001 3:20 pm

Well, the fact is that using a ham rig on the marine freqs is not legal. A radio must be FCC "type accepted" for its intended use. Of course, the argument "but everyone does it" isn't justification, so you have to make your own decision.

Without a thorough bench-check it's hard to know if the gear is a lemon or not. The nice thing about e-bay is that buyers get to rate the sellers, which offers some comfort. But, as in ocean sailing, there's no sure thing...


Date: 10/24/10

i too have been a ham for many years. it would be great if everyone included their ham call sign when putting something to the list. mine is K2RXQ.

also, for some of the ham transceivers an option is available for better frequency stability which would be worthwhile.

i use a kenwood ts440s for ham band operations when on the boat. at present the ant is simply a hustler mobile whip for the appropriate bands. it works, however i suspect that the insolated backstay would perform far better.


Date: Mon Oct 29, 2001 7:56 pm

We have SGC and have not had any problems with it now for some years. In my personal view, all real marine sets are fine, but people make mistakes by purchasing only Ham radios and miss out on all the marine bands, with the marine SGC radio you can have both.

Date: Wed Oct 31, 2001 9:15 am

I have finally renounced ham or ssb except for a simple HF receiver (French forecasts are the standard in lower North Atlantic, so brush up on your French... I don't understand why the Brits or the US do not translate and repeat, if they do not want to develop their own), and a weatherfax tied to my laptop which I use very rarely and could have done without.

I can do without the chatting at sea or in archipelagoes, and the major cruising centers or starting points have a chat group with forecasts and messages on the VHF at one or two specific times every day, which amply suffices for me.