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Thread: How many people actually ever use their radar??

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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Default How many people actually ever use their radar??

    I'm just curious. It's practically standard equipment these days, but when I was first getting into boating in my teens back in the mid 80's, hardly any personal boats had it. And people seemed to stay off the rocks and each other just fine. Heck, nobody had GPS, either. You'd figure out where you wanted to go and follow a compass heading from point A to point B.

    I don't see your average weekend warrior ever using it. You might turn it on, and go, "hey, that blip is that boat right over there," but do you actually need it? I'm just wondering how many people actually think the investment in radar was necessary and worth it?

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    Member pacific23's Avatar
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    Down here on the Gulf Coast if it's on the boat it's used , we have Thunder storms that pop up right quick and in a hurry. Also it should be ran and learned so when the weather, night, fog, rain shows up you are a lot more comfortable using it.

    Having Radar and not using it is like having sex and leaving the condoms at the drug store.

    Learn your equipment and how to use it properly, it could save your life.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by coho slayer View Post
    I'm just curious. It's practically standard equipment these days, but when I was first getting into boating in my teens back in the mid 80's, hardly any personal boats had it. And people seemed to stay off the rocks and each other just fine. Heck, nobody had GPS, either. You'd figure out where you wanted to go and follow a compass heading from point A to point B.

    I don't see your average weekend warrior ever using it. You might turn it on, and go, "hey, that blip is that boat right over there," but do you actually need it? I'm just wondering how many people actually think the investment in radar was necessary and worth it?
    Running nearly everyday in the summer, I'll probably NEED to use it 10-15 times running out of Port Valdez. VIS usually clears once around the entrance but not always. I've had days where it was needed everywhere but these days aren't too often. As an average joe you may not ever use it if you hit the wx just right but who want's to sit in the port just because you can't see the bow of your boat in the fog? Running in extremely poor vis without radar is just asking for trouble. In small boats it's definitely asking for trouble. I know of someone this summer who nearly ran over a small boat that cut in front of them. If he hadn't slammed it it reverse he claims he would have probably taken them out. The small boat operator never even realized he nearly loss his life and just kept going.

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    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coho slayer View Post
    I'm just curious. It's practically standard equipment these days, but when I was first getting into boating in my teens back in the mid 80's, hardly any personal boats had it. And people seemed to stay off the rocks and each other just fine. Heck, nobody had GPS, either. You'd figure out where you wanted to go and follow a compass heading from point A to point B.

    I don't see your average weekend warrior ever using it. You might turn it on, and go, "hey, that blip is that boat right over there," but do you actually need it? I'm just wondering how many people actually think the investment in radar was necessary and worth it?
    It saved me and my family in Valdez 2 years ago. I had it on running slow thru the fog when the proximity warning went off. I made a hasty left turn to avoid a boat bearing down on us. I followed them out of the fog and when I got a view of their boat I hailed them on the radio. Long story short, no radar, running on GPS at 25+ mph and he thought it was ok as he knew where he was.

    Almost had about the same thing in Homer a few years ago when a fog bank rolled in while we were at anchor. Was able to spot a boat bearing down on our location, used the radio but they just seemed to keep coming what seemed to be right at us, pulled up anchor, ready to move, they passed less then 100 feet from us on step, was barely able to make them out and did not see any radar, I am betting they never seen us.

    Without it you do not know what you are missing, once you have it you will never like to be without it. Above are just two examples in over 7 years of use. I cannot tell you of the countless times of using it to get back to the harbor or anchorage in the dark, fog or pouring rain. Could I have done it with just GPS you bet, but how many times are you going to roll the dice before they come up snake eyes.

  5. #5

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    Here's another story from this past summer out of Seward. It was a beautiful day out of the harbor but a fog bank was in between Rugged Is and Pony Cove. I was to the east of Cheval Is in the fog running off radar and following a recorded GPS track. I saw a blip coming towards me and it appeared to me that they were heading from Pony Cove to Rugged Is. The blip kept coming towards me doing about 20kts. I changed course but it wasn't enough and the target never changed heading. I got concerned enough to slow down and start listening for engines. A 26 ft plus Harbercraft came out of the fog with no radar and passed me about 100 yds aft. It wasn't that close of a call in the end but I couldn't believe someone was running a boat like that w/o radar in that weather in open water. My advice is, please don't run in the fog w/o radar.

    The real problem when you're out in the open in fog or heavy rain is that without land features, you just don't know how much visibility you really have. The water and sky is grey and it's really tough to see what the edge is. If the visibility is questionable and you don't have radar, please stay in or stay close to shore. Don't rely on those of us that can see you, will see you.

    Finally, just because you have radar, just like all the other boat accessories, learn how to use it. Spend time calibrating it in great weather so you know what blips, rain and clouds look like on the screen..

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    Member HuntKodiak's Avatar
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    And just because you have radar, don't think you're safe to get up on step in low vis running fast. Radars don't pick up logs and other obstructions in the water.

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    Member Blue Thunder's Avatar
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    I think that a lot of people with radar do not know how to use and read their radar, because of lack of use. Not meaning to throw stones at anyone. I have radar and have it on every time I go out. The one I have over lays on my chart plotter and I love it. With the over lay when something pops up I can look out and see what it is, so when in bad visibility conditions and something pops up I have a good idea as to what it is, because of the every day use. As stated above, in bad visibility conditions I never run on step. I'm no expert on radar by any means, but do try and use common sense.
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    Member HuntKodiak's Avatar
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    As you have illuded Blue Thunder, the tools we use on our boats are only as good as the operator who interprets the data.

    For those that don't know, radars only pick up something that's sticking up out of the water enough to reflect back the radar's signal. So submerged or low lying object may not get picked up even if you have your radar tuned perfectly, and if it's not tuned correctly, other objects may not be picked up. Now throw in some waves and swell that'll obscure a small boat or other target, and you may miss them too. Don't mean to make anyone paranoid, but I worked on and used radars for over a quarter of a century in the CG. I'm pretty familiar with their strengths and weaknesses.

    Just like any other piece of electronics, use it but don't blindly rely on it. I don't have one on my boat, and consequently I limit when and where I go.

  9. #9

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    When out on my parents boat, we were heading back to Whittier on a nice, dead calm day. There was a fog bank near the shore, but extending out a ways in a few places. Just for the heck of it, we flipped on the radar. Looking at it, we saw a blip right near the rocks that didn't make much sense. Heading over that direction, we were barely able to make out a boat adrift, heading toward the shore. Without the radar, we wouldn't have seen them and they likely would have hit the beach. Don't need to use it all the time, but it can be a life saver (yours or someone else's) the times you do need it.

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    Member Ellamar's Avatar
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    Default Hey Cizmo, was it a yellow HC?

    Last summer, we spent the night in Jack Bay out of Valdez and woke up in the morning to a thick fog. We were due to pick up a friend in Valdez the next morning so I decided to fire up the radar and slowly putt our way into port, or at least through the fog bank to where visibility would allow me to get up and run.

    Just after rounding the corner and entering the narrows, I noticed a smallish boat on the radar screen 1 mile out heading directly our way at about 15knts. We were making about 5 knts and I figured that if I could see him, he could certainly see me being a 38' aluminum vessel. Well, that certainly wasn't the case.

    As I watched the object get closer and closer at a fast rate I killed power and told my friends to put their coffee down and "brace themselves" because there is about to be a boat bust through the fog right off our bow coming right at us. Horn blazing and all lights on we watched as the blip draw near. Just as we expected, out of the fog wall in front of us came a yellow ~26' Hewescraft, he saw us and made a hard right, missing us by what I would guess to be 30 yards. Unfortunately, I didn't get hull #'s and any effort to hail them on the radio went unanswered.

    If you're gonna have radar, learn to use it properly, but watch out for idiots in the fog/dark. If you're not going to use it, don't run where you can't see hazards/other boats due to limited visibility!!

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    I am a fair weather boater. I try not to go out when it is fogged in. Two years ago, I was out pulling my shrimp pots in the Valdez narrows. The fog dropped in fast and it took me nearly three hours to come in slowly on my GPS. It was so foggy and dark by the time I made it in that I could not see anything until I was in the breakwater entrance to the Valdez harbor. The trip in was NOT any fun and very stressful. I now have a radar, still a fair weathered fisherman but feel a little more secure when taking my family out. I practice with the radar almost every trip out trying to get used to using it.

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    Member coho slayer's Avatar
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    Excellent answers, everyone.

    I wasn't suggesting people forgo the radar, I was just curious how many actually even know how to use it. And as several pointed out, that's really the key to any navigational equipment.

    I've not liked it but I have also picked my way through fog with radar. But, I don't like running in fog no matter what I have for precisely the reasons you guys have given: it's almost always the other guy cruising like there's no issue with not being able to see a thing as long as he's on his GPS heading. I'm afraid of just getting creamed by some idiot.

    Learn to use your equipment is the biggest lesson we can all take from this. It doesn't do you much good if the first time you turn on your radar is when the situation is already FUBAR.

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    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    Like you said, its pretty much standard equipment now days, thats why I bought mine. I hardly use the thing, but it does come in handy running in Passage Canal when the traffic is heavy and visibility is down. I also use it on the flats in the off chance some yahoo doesn't have his anchor light on. I have found it quite handy for gillnetting in the ocean. If I'm not on the fish I turn the radar on and look to see where the fleet is converging, it worked well once and payed for itself 3-fold. the other times I've just burned gas and ran into a bunch of boats that weren't catching either.





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    use it at all times in all conditions, so that you know what you're looking for when you need it.

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    It's also great for taking ranges to shore lines, tidal zones, rocks and other potential hull breaching obstacles when setting the hook.

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    I used my radar for navigation all the time before GPS, now just for poor visibility conditions, but be careful as HuntKodiak says, it can fool you. Blowing snow can pack on the radome and look like clear water ahead so beware if you're out when it's snowing and depending on your radar.

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    Member fullbush's Avatar
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    I personally don't like the growling whirling noise my radome makes. I'm also worried about the radar waves when I'm on deck. IMO the radar should be off unless you need it





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    yep, every time we are running/not fishing, i have it on...i'm new at all of this stuff(radar esp), so i find the radar fun to play with, rain or shine!....i guess here in BC Canada, it has to be ON legally -- if you have one!.....larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by fullbush View Post
    I personally don't like the growling whirling noise my radome makes. I'm also worried about the radar waves when I'm on deck. IMO the radar should be off unless you need it
    Just line your hat with tin foil and you should be ok.

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    Member alaskabliss's Avatar
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    I can sure tell you how many times I wished I had radar and sat anchored in a bay waiting out a fog bank! It sucks. I would rather sit anchored and wish I had radar than pretend I did and venture out in the wild white yonder

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