want the television located. This way,
you can mount it with rugged thru-bolts
with Nyloc locking nuts rather than with
screws, which will back out one day due
to boat vibration.
If you won’t be putting the TV on a
fixed stand, choose a universal TV wall-mount. There are many to choose from
on the market. Be sure to get one rugged
enough to withstand the boat’s motion-sand made of components that won’t corrode quickly in the marine environment.
2. Thru-bolt the mount to the
bulkhead or cabinetry, then mount
3. Choose your
antenna, and get a
mount. ( The mount
is usually sold
TV antennas have
threads and will fit
any standard fixed
4. Using your mounting template,
mark and then drill pilot holes for the
mounting screws. Then drill a centered
hole large enough for the antenna’s
coaxial cable to fit through.
5. Run the coax through the mount,
then through the hole and fish it, as
necessary, through the radar arch, hard
top, mast, or pipework.
6. With the cable pulled all the way
through the boat, use silicone sealant to
fill any gaps between the cable and the
fiberglass or pipework. Then dab silicone
around the mounting-screw pilot holes,
seat the mount, and affix it in place.
7. Screw the antenna onto the mount.
8. Route the coax to your television.
Some antennas come with a standard
F-connector in place. If so, simply attach
it to your television. If not, cut the cable
to length, attach an F-connector, connect to the television, and you’re done.
Like we said, piece of cake!
Lenny Rudow is a fishing and electronics
expert and a frequent BoatU.S. Magazine
contributor. Rudow is senior editor at
Boats.com as well as president of Boating
Choose the right antenna
You’ll be counting on using that antenna for a long time to come, so make sure you choose the right one in the first place. There are several key considerations, including size, whether it’s directional or multidirectional (also called omnidirectional), and whether it’s amplified or non-amplified.
SIZE: For a TV antenna, size equals gain, and gain equals range. The 15-inch
Shakespeare 3015 sells for around $100, and the larger 19-inch 3019 costs about $150.
DIRECTIONAL VS. MULTIDIRECTIONAL: A directional antenna allows you to point it
at the strongest signal to improve reception. But on a boat, this is a mixed blessing at
best. Movement as subtle as slowly swinging on a mooring can ruin directional reception. For boats, usually a multidirectional antenna will be the better choice.
AMPLIFIED VS. NON-AMPLIFIED: Many TV antennas have built-in amplifiers or preamplifiers, and amplifiers can be added to those that don’t. But, truth be told, in marine
applications they don’t usually do much good and may even degrade your reception.
Antenna amps don’t improve “bad” signals, and they can increase signal distortion.
Their real purpose is to help get the signals through long stretches of cabling and/or
splitters, and any system with less than 20 feet of coax probably doesn’t need an amp.
Many boaters will have a relatively short stretch from the antenna to the TV, and
splitters usually won’t be involved, so an amp often isn’t necessary.
Popular antenna options
Anyone shopping for a marine TV antenna is going to run across Shakespeare’s multidirectional line. It offers the super-small 8-inch by 4-inch Sea Watch 3004, which is so
compact you can mount it on the smallest cuddy-cabin boats.
It costs less than $70 but, as you might expect, offers a rather
reduced range; Shakespeare claims up to 15 miles from broadcast
towers. The pie-shaped Sea Watch 3015 (about $100) extends out
to 40 miles. The Sea Watch 3019 ($150) gets you a maximum of
up to 75 miles.
Glomex offers both multidirectional and directional antennas.
The Talitha Shark Fin multidirectional options can be purchased alone (the
10-inch model will run you about $100, and the 14-inch one is $30 to $40
more) or in kits that include a variety of gain-control amps and/or splitters. The
14.6-inch directional Polaris, which runs closer to $500, can be aimed via
remote control, rotates at five degrees per second, includes
internal and external amplifiers, and has an amplifier
bypass. This might be a good choice for large boats
that spend the bulk of the time at the dock under very
The Digital Yacht DTV100 11-inch multidirectional antenna
costs just under $200 and comes with an amplifier with -7-decible to
+29-decible gain control. It also comes with adaptors for different mounting options.
Another option is to try one of those simple, inexpensive indoor antennas
designed for land use. While we never like to suggest bringing terrestrial gear
aboard, these portable plug-ins — the rabbit ears of modern television — sometimes
provide shockingly good reception. The $50 Flatview (it’s like a paper-thick mouse
pad with a cable that you can stick on a window or the cabin sides) reportedly grabs
a signal from as far as 30 miles away. But movement of your boat can drastically
affect this. MORE technicalmarine.com