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Antenna Height

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For line of sight transmission such as VHF radios, antenna height is paramount. Mounting an antenna of adequate length at the best possible height assures the furthest range along the curvature of Earth. (Information based on Geographic Range Table calculations in Coast Pilot. i.e. 5 ft above sea level has line of sight of 2.6nm, 10 ft height has a range of 3.7nm.) As a general rule, sailboats typically mount a 3-5ft antenna on top of the mast. This mounting elevation offers superior range of communication. Racing sailboats sometimes opt to mount an 8 ft antenna on the stern as a fail safe against dismasting at sea. Powerboats up to 25 feet in length typically install a standard 8 ft antenna, while bigger vessels may require a larger antenna with higher gain. The other limiting range factor is power of transmission, but standard radios are most often limited by geographic range before power becomes a consideration. In US waters, transmission power is also regulated by the FCC.

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