Last night I spent a little time looking over my latest book Advanced Marine Electrics and Electronics Troubleshooting and one of the photos reminded me of a funny time I had on a sailing trip near Annapolis, Maryland. We were cruising down the bay when suddenly all of our instruments that were linked to the GPS decided they weren't going to tell us anything. Blank, caput, nada. So, as is my nature, I immediately began thinking about why. We had a strong signal with lots of satellite coverage when we started, only about 30 minutes prior to this moment. It had to be something stupid that had caused this. Well it surely was, and it could happen to you if your electronics installer was thinking like the person who had done the install on the boat we were sailing.
My first reaction was to look for the GPS antenna, you know they like a clear view of the sky above. I didn't see the antenna on this boat. Why? Because one of our crew members was sitting on it. I don't blame the crew member for this, I blame the installer of the GPS for not thinking about the ergonomics of the cockpit on this boat, something I've written about before in earlier posts on this site. The picture below tells the whole story here.
The picture above is from a different boat, but it tells the story just fine. That circular disk to the left of the winch is the GPS antenna. Its definately located in an area where someone might just drop their butt from time to time. Or maybe smack it inadvertently with a winch handle, or perhaps get the jib sheet wrapped around it on a fast tack when releasing the sheet. At least in that case the sheet might tear the antenna off the deck and get it out of the way as the sheet runs.........
Electronics installers of the world...stop putting these antennas where they are vulnerable to the day to day activity on the boat, and if you have any questions about what actually happens when a boat is underway, you know how to reach me.