Readership feedback

Greetings fellow mariners and welcome aboard my second effort as author of the Ocean Navigator Marine Electronics newsletter. I would like to thank all of you good folks out there, especially the ones who sent in questions or even answers. I thought that they were interesting enough to share with the rest of our readers and their feedback is the subject of this current newsletter.

Brian Craig asked me to recommend a good hand-held GPS and hand-held radio that he could use for international chartering. My response was that I thought he would like the award winning Standard Horizon HX850S which is a VHF handheld that floats and also has a built-in, 12-channel GPS. Mr. Craig informed me that my recommended radio won’t work in the Mediterranean and elsewhere and isn’t available for export, he then recommended to me the Lowrance LHR-80. I asked him to write an owner/users report on the LHR-80 to be shared with our readers and also contacted Standard Horizon company for their comments. Scott Iverson, marine product manager for Standard Horizon passed along the following Web site for you Europeans who want to learn more about what Standard Horizon can do for you:

Ted Dyer who was a former U.S. Navy Chief Engineer onboard USS Parle DE-708, and CO of USS Keller wrote to ask me if I had any inside information about the collision of USS Darby DE-218 off the Virginia Capes back in the late ‘60s with a civilian tanker. I could not help Mr. Dyer, however maybe one of you out there can and will. In any case I am a former DE and DD anchor clanker and always enjoy hearing from fellow navy guys and gals. “Clear skies and following seas,” Ted!

Peter Gentry wrote the following: “Hello, I have an older riveted, iron-hulled brigantine schooner with minimal electronics that I am bringing a bit more up to date. A not insignificant concern is the lightning strike issue. I have heard loads of comments and chatter and some really silly sounding recommendations, but as a person with a metal hull (like most all Navy/Coast Guard vessels these days) I’d sure like to know how the Navy/Coast Guard protects their electronics. Obviously they have masts and antennas that are far higher than anything I have on my boat. I also don’t have their budgets. But there have to be some pretty fool proof ways to do it without breaking the bank. Oh, and then I guess the other concern is would that same lightning strike cook whatever poor devil is at the wheel (metal wheel attached to the metal hull via metal steering station structure)?”

Mr. Gentry has some valid concerns and good questions. My reply follows: Dear Sir, thank you for your inquiry concerning how to protect your boat and marine electronics from lightning damage. These two subjects are both very in-depth and it would take quite an essay to answer your important questions, so I am referring you to the following three hyper-links:

Two of these links are particularly applicable to you because they were generated from the University of Florida specifically for mariners who operate in those waters. The other link concerns protecting electronics from lightning damage, of course there is no absolute answer to this problem, but there are ways to help mitigate the extent of damages.

Because you sail in an iron vessel, I will leave you with the following quote from the National Ag Safety Database. “There is no such thing as lightning-proof boats, only lightning-protected boats. All-metal ships are rarely damaged, and injuries or deaths are uncommon. These ships are frequently struck, but the high conductivity of the large quantities of metal, with hundreds of square yards of hull in direct contact with the water, causes rapid dissipation of the electrical charge.”

Please let me know if this information is adequate for your needs and keep reading the electronics newsletter, because I will take up this subject in a future edition.

And last but not least John Christensen wrote a comment about my article, which I agree with wholeheartedly when he suggests the use of distilled water for cleaning electronic equipment. He writes: “Good recommendations except you’re missing an important point. To clean any connection on board, just wiping it off will leave a film of salt/acid. This will attract moisture and provide a conductive path that will continue to cause power loss and electrolysis. The easiest way to clean the connector/connection is with a distilled water bath. Don’t worry about causing problems with excess water. Pure water is an insulator and any excess will evaporate and leave no residue. I have rescued many pieces of electronics with a distilled water bath. Plain faucet water is better than sea water, which is instant death, but should only be used as a last resort.” Thanks, John.

I know that I mentioned in my last newsletter that we will talk about cabling and RJ-45 connectors this time around, but I thought the feedback was too good to pass up. In the meantime, your homework assignment is to check for every RJ-45 connector used on your boat/yacht. You will probably be surprised at how many electronic devices use them and prepared to learn more about them next time. Best regards. Fred

About the author:

Fredrick Gary Hareland holds an AAS degree in rescue and survival operations and in avionic systems technology and is a certified marine electronics technician and NARTE certified telecommunications technician. He has served in the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, the Military Sealift Command-Pacific and has worked for Maersk Line Limited and Norwegian Cruise Line. Hareland currently works at China Lake Naval Air Warfare Station as a microwave-communications technician. He lives in Ridgecrest, Calif.

By Ocean Navigator