Communications

1. The preferable VHF antenna for a sailboat is a 36-inch whip antenna with a gain of 3dB. A directional 6 dB antenna (8-foot) or a long stick 9 dB antennas will have greater range, but directional antennas lose their advantage when the boat is heeled.
2. Watertight integrity is essential for any marine antenna, especially one that sits at the top of your mast, where it’s difficult to inspect. In February 2007 we tested four 3dB antennas. All featured the PL259/SO239 connector, which should be sealed.

Antenna Gain and VHF Transmission Range

Recreational marine VHF antennas are usually broken down into three categories: 3- and 4-foot sailboat antennas (3dB gain), 8-foot powerboat antennas (6 dB gain) and 16-plus-foot, long-stick antennas (9+ dB gain) that are popular on larger, long-range craft. Antenna gain is a ratio related to an antenna’s effective radiated power (ERP) instead of a fixed quantitative value.

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