Carbon fiber sails and satcom

There are good reasons to equip a voyaging boat with high-strength, high-tech sails. The primary one being that the boat will go faster. But there is an interesting drawback to high-tech sails that use carbon fiber: the material attenuates satellite radio signals. Sails built using carbon fiber can interfere with your ability to use a satcom unit.
    Our own Charlie Humphries found this to be true on his recent transatlantic delivery trip. The 100-foot Swan he was aboard had its satcom antennas on its lower spreaders, so when  the main was up, Charlie and crew could not use the vessel’s satcom equipment. “Once per day we rolled up the  head sail and steered to a heading that would allow us a clear shot the satellites,” said Humphries. Then, with a clear line of sight to the satellites, they were able to send and receive satcom messages.
    So, it you intend to voyage with carbon fiber sails and also want to use a satcom antenna, you might want to place it on the stern where carbon fiber sails won’t exert such a big influence.

By Ocean Navigator