Mast is down!

Yay! Bay Marine is really treating me well. Daily updates and rough hours worked verbally, and written once a week. The mast is down, and (mostly) all the rigging is off. They are on a strict schedule, otherwise I get a huge discount;. It looks like the biggest problem was the prior project coordinator. Here is what she looks like without a mast:


With the mast down, I was able to properly inventory what’s on the mast, from an electronics standpoint, top down:

  1. The highest thing on the mast is a Shakespeare 5215 VHF antenna. The connector was seized and poorly soldered on (the strain relief just gave out with a tug). I think this thing wasn’t even connected, but I’ll figure this out better tomorrow. Having a VHF antenna this high up really boosts the range. It’s also run using a RG-8x cable, which really loses a lot of signal as it climbs the mast; so much that it’s actually better to have it lower. I’m replacing it with some RG-213, assuming I can find someone who will sell it by the foot at a reasonable price, like under $100, and it’s tinned like this one. I’m not in love with the antenna, but I also don’t want to shell out another $100 for a different one. One plus is that if it were to hit a bridge, this whip antenna will just make a lot of noise instead of breaking, as it’s just a 3’ piece of stainless steel.

  2. An Aqua Signal Series 40 Tricolor+Anchor Nav Light. This one was in good shape, except someone thought they could just wrap wires together and cover it with electrical tape at the top of the mast (see photo on right). Amazing this survived, since one of them wasn’t even tinned copper. This uses 3 wires: a common ground, one for the anchor light, and one for the tricolor. There is a marine grade 4 conductor wire that isn’t fully utilized. I’ll just rewire it to use that and pull this old wire back down, assuming it’s not toast yet. I also have a white LED I can use for the anchor light. I’ll consider ordering a LED for the tri-color, which improves visibility for other ships at night on the open ocean. But for now she is just getting a regular bulb.

  3. A non-functional anemometer cups and direction indicator. This uses 5 wires, 2 for power, 1 for a pulse from the speed indicator, and 2 for X/Y direction of the wind. These are signal wires, low voltage, low current. This needs replacement. There was a rebuild kit, but the whole thing is rusted and siezed. In theory it could be repaired, but not before the mast goes back up. Fortunately Anchor Express seems to make a compatible one so I’m biting the bullet and ordering it. Fingers crossed that it’s the right one.

  4. Next up is a steaming light. It looks like it’s dead. It needs to come off and at least be cleaned, perhaps just needs a new bulb. I’ll find out tomorrow.

  5. Next up is an old TV antenna. I don’t think this is used any more. It’s been decommissioned, saving me one wire up the mast. I might use this location for a wifi antenna, assuming I can get a ubiquiti router mounted up there along with the antenna, in which case I’ll just run some RJ-45 up there.

  6. Then there’s an old radar dish. It’s coming down. It’s in really bad shape; the assembly wasn’t done with stainless steel and so it has more rust than anything else. An angle grinder and she’s gone. Or maybe I’ll get my friend to remove it using a dremmel. Always fun.

  7. Finally there is a deck light. I think it works. I’ll know soon enough.

Tomorrow is all about doing more mast prep work. I’m putting ring terminals on everything except the coax at the base, remove unused wires, heat shrink like crazy, remove winches, etc.

Final wiring notes:

  • 4 conductor wire will carry a ground, the anchor light, and the tricolor light, leaving a spare wire (3 to hook up)
  • 5 conductor anemometer wire (5 to hook up)
  • Steaming light with ground (2 to hook up)
  • Deck light with ground (2 to hook up)
  • Coax for antenna
  • RJ-45 for wifi

So, I need a 12 position barrier strip for connecting everything back up. Hopefully I can find one of those locally too.


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