Whether there’s a pea-soup fog or night has fallen, there’s no substitute for radar when it comes to perating a boat in reduced visibility. Even on clear, sunny days, radar can be a huge advantage,
letting you “see” for miles into the distance.
But radar is expensive and complex, right? These days,
no, not so much. Today’s units are light-years ahead of those
found aboard recreational vessels just a decade or so ago.
They’re easier to use, more sensitive, and less expensive. Yet
still, many mariners who haven’t used radar are a bit apprehensive about looking at all those blips and blobs and decoding exactly what they mean.
Radar can seem daunting to a newcomer. Here’s a brief introduction
on all you need to know to get you started
Basically, here’s how radar works
Before we delve into using radar, let’s make sure you have a
solid understanding of the basics. In a nutshell, radar sends
out a transmission in the form of a high-frequency radio
wave and “listens” for it to be bounced back by a solid object.
Most traditional radar units send out this transmission in a
burst of power, then calculate the time delay of any returned
signals to calculate distance to the target. As a general rule,
this type of radar provides the best long-range abilities.
Unfortunately, that big burst of power creates something
called a “main bang” 360 degrees around your boat. This is
a visionless dead-zone that can cover 100 feet or more. So
BY LENNY RUDOW