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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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?
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.