R 22

Rhodes 22


VHF Antenna

I am rebuilding a 1978 Rhodes 22, and was wondering where any of you have mounted your radio antennas. On mast, next to mast? Any suggestions?

Tom Napstad
14 Dec 1999

I use a stainless steel Metz Manta 3db base loaded sailboat antenna, mounted at the masthead. This gets the antenna something like 28 feet off the water. VHF radio is basically line-of-sight, higher antenna equals longer range. Use a high quality RG-8U marine grade coax cable. The RG-8U cable has an OD of about 0.410 inches. This large diameter makes RG-8U cable a little hard to work with; but the loss per 100 feet is only 2.7 db compared to 4.5 db per 100 feet for the next size smaller, RG-8X. The marine grade RG-8U cable has a more densely woven shield that is fully tinned, for less signal leakage and good corrosion resistance. The cable exits the base of the mast thru a rubber grommet. I have a 6" long pigtail of coax cable sticking out of the mast, terminated in a female coax connector.

I have a bulkhead-style male coax connector sticking up from the cabin roof a few inches from the mast. You need to have a quick disconnect coax connector near the mast for ease in stepping the mast.

Buy good quality coax connectors because they're out in the weather & lead a tough life.

I have my ship's VHF radio & my AM/FM/WB stereo connected to a two- way selector switch. I have two antennas. There is the masthead- mounted Metz Manta sailboat antenna and a short "rubber ducky" style antenna. The rubber ducky antenna is mounted inside the cabin vertically next to the companionway hatch. The two-way selector switch automatically cross-connects each radio to one of the antennas.

Each radio is always connected to an antenna. The rubber ducky antenna is useful with the ship's VHF radio for low power (1 watt) local communication without much risk of the whole world listening in.

Over water, a mile range is about all I can depend upon when transmitting on low power with the rubber ducky antenna & maybe 3 miles on high power. I can only receive powerful local radio stations on the AM/FM/WB radio with the rubber ducky antenna. On 25 watts transmit power, with the masthead antenna, my ship's VHF radio can reach 35+ miles. The AM/FM/WB radio with the masthead antenna picks up FM stations 100+ miles away & brings in the world at night if skip conditions are good. Note, that you need to have a good ground to make your radios work this well. I have an external "Dynaplate" ground plate down on the keel.

Good luck with your restoration, Tom.

Roger Pihlaja
S/V Dynamic Equilibrium
14 Dec 1999

Don't forget to add 5-6" nylon cable ties every four feet or so. Tighten them up and leave the tails oriented so they'll alternate at 90 degrees to each other. You want to keep the antenna wire from slapping against the inside of the mast so you and your anchorage neighbors can sleep.

The cable ties are one way, another is to use foam insulation for half-inch copper plumbing. If not already there, you may want to run marine-grade Romex to the masthead for a light. Don't cable-tie them together in case you have to replace one or the other.

Gary Sanford
s/v Raven

Question: What happens to the cable ties when they reach the point where the bolts go through the mast at the spreaders?


Thanks for the info. RG8x makes sense. It is 0.25 inch vs. 0.5 inch for RG8 and has almost the performance. I'll check Overton's. West and Boat/US sell probably the same antenna as well as the Metz for ~$35.00 w/o cable. Just need the boat.

Dave W. 09 Jun 1998

I have no clue where I got the catalogue, but it was Overton's. (800- 334-6541) I'm not affiliated with any boat supply house, and I'm an equal opportunity buyer, having purchased from the big two, and a couple of other outfits. Overton's has no "sailboat" hardware, and is primarily for power boaters. But, a radio is still a radio regardless of boat type.

The antenna kit is called "Sailboat Squatty Body" w/3 db, 3 ft stainless steel antenna, "L" bracket and 60' of RG8x cable along with two PL-259 solder on connectors, #K21818. List: $96.50, cost: $64. 99...on sale for $57.50 or some such price. They were the only outfit I could find with a "kit" and specifically said "sailboat" and had a mast-mount "L" bracket. Maybe someone else has it, cause it's a Shakespeare branded kit. You may be able to get that at a local radio store. I found a listing of stores by state when I searched for Apelco or Icom radios (can't remember which) and would have followed that course, but this catalogue appeared in the mail. The answer BTW, it was RG8x.

Alex Bell

Without getting too commercial, did you get the kit mail order from one of the big 2 outfits (WM or Boat/US)? I haven't seen a kit with RG8 cable. The Metz looks like a good antenna also. I'm impressed that you could get fat stiff RG8 down the mast. RG8x is only 0.25- inch diameter but supposedly almost as low loss as RG8 (much better than RG58). Anybody have any comparison info?

Dave Walker

Thanks for the report. I've got an electrician's snake that is over 26 feet long and was planning to use that to fish the coax. Did you use RG58 or the slightly thicker RG8X cable?


I ordered the Shakespeare Squatty body kit with bracket and RG8 cable. Thicker, but good for 60'. That's how much came with the kit.

Alex Bell

Subject: Installing VHF Antenna and cable in mast

If you get the in-mast furling main configuration, there are two chambers within the mast. The rear chamber with the mast slot contains the mainsail, the boom gooseneck etc. The front chamber I suspect adds strength to the mast extrusion. It's about 2 1/2" in diameter. The masthead light power wire is the only thing that goes up through the chamber. You will have lots of room for the antenna coax cable, an anchor light power wire and spreader light power wires if desired. Of course you would have to up the battery ante with all those lights.

I found several interesting connectors to make a neater installation of the antenna wire. I plan to have a 90-degree connector plug into end of the cable at the bottom of the mast. That in turn will screw to a chassis mount female connector affixed to the mast. This will keep dangling wires from getting under the mast as you raise it. I got a female connector for the masthead light, and will do the same with it. This will require a jumper cable from the deck fitting to the mast fitting (jumper will have male connector at both ends). Reason? Guess who, despite loving care when raising the mast, chopped his masthead cable in half? I want no repeats of that performance.

Alex Bell
09 Jun 1998

Ordered the Apelco VHF fixed mount today. Antenna arrived today, so the project for the weekend is getting the cable down the mast, and then through the cabin top. I forgot to ask the factory guys how they gained access when I visited the factory. I ordered a thru-deck fitting and cap, along with other fittings. My mast light socket is on the starboard side of the mast, not in the front of the mast step like the new boats. I don't know if the thru-deck fitting would work out on that front surface unless you had access to that area inside the cabin. Any suggestions?

Alex Bell

The mast has a channel for wiring in the front, with a second channel for in-mast furling. It should be no problem to get the wire through. I'm going to use a fiberglass arrow with string attached (like bow & arrow) and shoot it through, then pull the wire through with the attached string. Sounds unconventional, but I've done it in buildings to make long wiring runs over the tops of ceilings.

The headliner is another story. We'll see how that goes. I'm not in a hurry to discover how to take it apart. I had ordered a thru-deck fitting and might just use it and run the wire along the bulkhead at the head/galley. Mine is the old layout for the head area, so the bulkhead would be handy to hide the wire.

Alex Bell

web page developed by Logic Unlimited, Inc.