Crimping and Sealing for a Life Offshore

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Mast antennas, like all electrical components, are particularly vulnerable to water intrusion at connectors. In the extreme, corrosion at unions or terminals can damage a transmitter.

  1. A crimping tool with matching dies for N-type connectors is available online from most radio equipment suppliers like Quicksilver Radio.
  2. This N-type connector from Amphenol is more resistant to water intrusion than the industry standard PL259, which needs to be carefully sealed to prevent water intrusion.
  3. A nearly assembled PL259 connector is ready for soldering. When installed properly, these connectors are rarely a source of power loss, but they must be carefully sealed.
  4. To seal external connectors, the connector should be filled with coaxial dielectric grease, taped with self-amalgamating tape (shown here) and then taped again with vinyl electrical tape.
  5. Solderless PL258 connectors are popular among do-it-yourselfers because they are quick to assemble. PS recommends these only for temporary repairs. A coaxial cutter (top) ensures clean, straight cuts.
Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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