SSB whip?

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SSB whip?

Postby SFBaysailor » Sat Jan 11, 2020 2:37 am

So I’m thinking abut communications, and I’d love to have a ham/marine ssb radio aboard. Not really any standing rigging in which to incorporate the wire, so I’m starting to think about installing a Shakespeare multi-band whip immediately in front of the mizzenmast.

Love to hear any thoughts/caveats. Thanks! JEFF
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Re: SSB whip?

Postby Castaway » Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:49 pm

The PO of Castaway had fitted an SSB radio (ICOM), which he used when making Atlantic crossings. The radio was installed by the chart table – forward end of saloon in UK model), with the aerial tuner unit under the side deck and a cable gland for the aerial itself in the low bulwark formed by the hull/deck joint. The aerial wire then ran to an eye at the head of the mizzen mast, attached with some thin stuff and an insulator. To accommodate bending of the mast, near the lower end was a loop, with a rubber mooring snubber attached to the toe rail and the aerial by a shackle at each end. A small block about 2/3rds of the way up allowed a thin halyard for courtesy ensigns, burgees and signal flags – the last rarely used, I have to confess, even though we have removed the SSB set. Poor communicators!

Because of the flexible fastening, if the boom swings forward to touch the wire, there is no stress or damage. The wire is plastic coated stainless steel multi-strand and worked quite well, the coating provided adequate insulation, and it was strong enough to provide a handhold when boarding from the quayside. We have a similar set up on the other side to stow the running backstay when we are not using the staysail.

wave.jpg
SSB aerial to starboard, backstay to port
wave.jpg (166.89 KiB) Viewed 238 times


This set-up has covered many thousands of miles, both offshore and coastal cruising, without any failure. It is much less vulnerable than a whip antenna, and gives an aerial length of about 10m. Since we still have wishbone booms, there is insufficient room to mount anything between the two masts, as there is a slight overlap. and the antenna would not have survived a tack or gybe.

The SSB was handy for us when the BBC World service included European news and features, but our coastal lifestyle means that we get any station we want on the internet, nowadays, hence the removal of our transceiver. For actual reliable communication, I think that a satellite phone is the method of choice for ocean cruisers, expensive though they still are.
Gerald Freshwater,
s/y 'Castaway', (UK F35 cat ketch, centreboard, 1987)
Lerwick Boating Club
Shetland Isles, Scotland
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Re: SSB whip?

Postby bad » Sat Jan 11, 2020 2:43 pm

We are pro SSB. Weather data, email and nets seem like a benefit, though satelite com is more straightforward. Some local boats here are burying the antenna cable in the 12 strand dyneema of their backstay (Moore 24s, etc). For freestanding masts, the elastic connection at one end makes perfect sense. To me, hoisting it on a flag halyard during use seems like a good solution. If you want something permanent, there should be a gap between the mizzen mast and the rail where the main leach/boom would not catch it, and the mizzen boom can not interfere then sailing deep. Else maybe use the topping lift? Part of the antenna would be shielded inside the the mast and I have no idea how that effects performance.

Let us know what you do because we still need to install ours. Also, I have a new ICOM M700 Pro for sale with a A130 tuner. It was a purchased be a West Marine employee who never got the boat going, died, and sold in anger by the widow. Still in the shipping box. We went with a head unit which is easier to install in our space.
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