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Old 09-02-2007, 04:38 AM   #1
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I have just read an article compiled from data taken from the recently publiched 'QinetiQ' report into the performance of marine radar reflectors. It appears all passive reflectors are very poor indeed. At 15 degrees of heel it seems most are nothing more than a piece of rigging mounted junk.

For instance the report shows the popular 'blipper' at AU$320 at 10 degrees of heel, has an effective reflective area of 0.09 of one square metre. My calculations put that at around 9cm x 10cm, or in imperial measure 3.5 in x 4 in.

Active, or powered reflectors fared better, but even so, remain "frighteningly poor" from a performance viewpoint.

David.
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Old 09-03-2007, 01:22 AM   #2
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Yes, and we have a wooden boat with wooden masts and very little to reflect that radar except that little piece of rigging mounted junk...
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Old 09-03-2007, 03:20 PM   #3
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Has anyone tried Lin and Larry Pardey's idea of crumpled aluminum foil the full length of their wooden mast?
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Old 09-03-2007, 05:20 PM   #4
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Has anyone tried Lin and Larry Pardey's idea of crumpled aluminum foil the full length of their wooden mast?
Sounds kinda temporary and, well, rinky-dink for a Pardey idea.

Hubby says we should put up a aluminum coated sail...We've been joking around about that. We have some alumanet shade cloth over our boat shed and we've joked that we should just send a sail to the company to coat. We do have a 2 ft long stainless steel thin plate that wraps around our foremast (to protect the wood from the gaff saddle) that probably does "something" for us...
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Old 09-03-2007, 06:01 PM   #5
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In the June 2005 edition of yachting Monthly there was a fairly comprehensive test of radar reflectors including the SeaMe active radar reflector. The results were astonishing; astonishingly bad in many cases that is.

The standard ochtahedral and tube type reflectors were hopeless although, having said that, the ochtahedral type was the better of the two and outperformed many others too. The Echomax and Tri-Lens types were best amongst the non-active radar reflectors.

The SeaMe won hands down though but it only responds to X-band radar and will not enhance any yacht painted by S-band radar. It also gives an audible warning when a radar signal has been rceived.

For my money, I will be investing in the SeaMe and keeping my old ochtahedral reflector as a back up.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 09-03-2007, 10:29 PM   #6
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Out of curiosity I looked up SeaMe's website.

560 UK pounds to buy online, with mounting bracket and audible alarm.
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Old 09-04-2007, 04:29 AM   #7
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Not cheap is it?

But can we set a price on safety?

// Stephen
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Old 09-04-2007, 07:22 AM   #8
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Not cheap is it?

But can we set a price on safety?

// Stephen
One is also assuming that ships with radar actually have it turned on and are "looking"...this is NOT always the case.
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Old 09-04-2007, 09:30 AM   #9
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One is also assuming that ships with radar actually have it turned on and are "looking"...this is NOT always the case.
You are quite correct. It is not always the case but such vessels are contravening Rule 5 of the Collision Regulations:

Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.

Not that the knowledge that the ship is in the wrong helps you a whole lot when you are run down.

In this regard, all we can do is to make ourselves as visible as possible. Paint the boat red, yellow or orange; have red sails; have good navigation lights; use the biggest radar reflector you can find and safely rig, have a SeaMe or similar, get a class B AIS transponder and keep a good lookout. The Mark 1 Eyeball is by far still the best tool in your sailing toolbox.

Having been on both sides of the fence, let me tell you of an incident I was involved in many years ago. We were heading south about 20 NM off the coast of Portugal in a ship of about 10,000 tons. The weather was fine and clear with force 6 - 7 wind and bright sunshine. I was officer of the watch and I also had a seaman on lookout duties. Both radars were running, one on 12 mile range and the other on 3. One was transmitting on X-band and the other S-band. Suddenly, without having seen it optically or on the PPI a small. open, white painted fishing boat appeard relatively close (about 1NM) on our port bow. It was low in the water and wooden so the radar had not picked it up and because it was also painted white neither the seaman lookout nor I had seen it earlier. All went well and the fishing boat passed safely down our port side but it did make me very aware the issue of seeing small boats at sea. I was on a well found ship with two radars running, an OOW and lookout too, and this during the hours of daylight.

Ironically, although most yacht sailors are of the opposite opinion, small vessels are often more easily seen at night providing they have good lights and are away from a coast with all its background lights.

IMHO the seas were much safer places 30+ years ago when merchant ships generally were registered in traditional maritime states and were owned by responsible shipping families / companies. Unfortunately today we live in the age of "the fast buck" and traditional values have been displaced. I will not allow this to develop into a rant but would like to point out that once you leave the berth your survival depends more on your own abilities and efforts than those of others.

Aye / Stephen
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Old 09-05-2007, 03:11 PM   #10
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We are belt and brace on Jade. We have a Seame, and the other day a passing yacht called me on the VHF to ask what radar reflector we used. I told him and asked why? . He replied "Because on my radar you look like a cruise ship!" Very reassuring. We also have a class B AIS transponder. These have been available for just under a year. I paid 600 pounds at the London Boat Show. Much better than a receive-only version. I want to be sure those big ships out there are seeing me. With AIS their mandatory proximity alarm will tell them about me even if they are not keeping a proper watch, and I can see exactly what their course, speed and CPA are. Also I will know their MMSI number, so I can be sure of contacting them on VHF if necessary.

I used to command patrol boats whose purpoise was to intercept small vessels, so we had radar and trained operators for the purpose. We would not expect to see a yacht at more than 3 miles, and often less!

I heartily recommend a class B AIS and a Seame as essential safety equipment.

Arni

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You are quite correct. It is not always the case but such vessels are contravening Rule 5 of the Collision Regulations:

Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.
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Old 09-05-2007, 09:20 PM   #11
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Hi Arni,

Being somewhat of a retro-techie, I am not boned up on 2007 hi-tech. I understand the need for active radar response, but please can you tell me what are the benefits of having both the Seeme and B AIS. Is it merely duplication or does each perform a significantly different function.

Thanks, and welcome aboard.

David.
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