Mailport August 2014 Issue

Mailport: August 2014

Vesper/AIS fan

Reader Mitch West sails Varuna, his Pearson 36 cutter, off the coast of Monterey, Calif. West is a strong proponent of AIS aboard cruising boats, and he reports that his Vesper AIS splitter has served him well.

In regard to your December 2013 Chandlery article on the Vesper SP160 VHF splitter. After too many near misses with merchant ships, we installed an AIS in 2012, using the Vesper splitter to the masthead antenna. Your article mentioned target reception at 1.5 miles without and 11 miles with the SP160. In our experience, we sometimes see merchant vessels at 80 miles or more, and other cruisers at 30 to 40 miles with the Vesper. When approaching Colon, Panama, the display was “maxed out” at 50 miles (it only shows the closest 100 contacts).

Though we have not done rigorous testing, we have traveled from Grenada to the Sea of Cortez in the past two seasons, and nearly always see merchant vessels at 30-plus miles, and the smallest sport fishing boat at 15. (I’d love to know when they see me—maybe some test could establish that.)

I thought the conclusion also left out something important: The cost of good coax cable far outweighs the cost of any antenna. If professionally installed, maybe requiring mast removal, a splitter looks more attractive.

I don’t attribute all this performance to the Vesper (though it serves us well). My point is: AIS is way better than this article suggests, and anyone making overnight transits in the vicinity of shipping should have one.

Mitch West
Varuna, Pearson 36 cutter
Portland, Ore.

Next: Shaft Line Cutters

Comments (1)

Shaft Line Cutters
Your suggestions for useful line cutters, especially for Maine sailing which is mined with lobster pots, did not include the best device for cutting free of lines that I have found. It is the "RazorSharp HOOKNIFE" which I obtained from Attached to a common boat hook, it allows you to reach over the stern, hook the offending lobster pot line, and with one sharp pull of the razor sharp hook, cut the line and pot and line go free. This works best if line is only hooked on the rudder, once wrapped on a turning prop, the line problem is much more difficult. I know! I have just had my boat hauled to remove the line wound on the prop shaft, displaced the prop sufficiently to destroy the the prop shaft seal, and have the lobster pot bend a blade of the Maxprop.
Most lobster pots in west Penobscot Bay are a single line to the lobster pots and rarely cause a problem. On the east of the bay and further east, a toggle float is used between the lobster trap and the colorful floats. If you are sailing west to east, or east to west, when the tidal currents are more north-south, the toggle and float put a shallow line perpendicular to your track. If you miss seeing it in time, you too will have a sad story to tell.

Julius feinleib
IDUNN 48' Ted Hood Motorsailor

Posted by: Julius F | August 11, 2014 6:53 PM    Report this comment

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