I read a story about a live-aboard yachtsman relaxing on board one Saturday night at a public pontoon. He hears a lot of noise and raised voices outside so goes on deck to investigate. A racing yacht is coming in and trying to come alongside so he helps them with their lines. In return they take the mickey out of him for wearing slippers and a dressing gown on board a yacht. After they all head up to their cars and the yacht-club in their bright, breathable yacht-wear he is left to reflect upon who are the real yachtsmen: the ones who spend two hours a week dressed up in $1000 suits or the ones who spend day and night, every day on board...
|The TV antenna is the round 'flying saucer' to the right of the very top of the mast.
I always intended that Rusalka Mist should have a TV on board but I kept putting it off, thinking that the flat-screen ones, like a lap-top computer's screen, would soon be on the market. One of those could hang, like a picture, on the back of the heads door. After all of the interior modifications involved in the double bunk installation, we ended up with no toilet door, just a curtain, so this plan was out. At that point it hardly seemed worth waiting to see if these LCD TVs came out and came down in price. We were visiting our neighbouring island, Guernsey, at Easter 1998 and found a good, low cost 12V television in a local shop. It's a RoadStar with a 5.5-inch screen and it cost about £130.
Ahhh! Relaxing evenings on board, at last... No. That was just the beginning. I had had a good omni-directional antenna for VHF and UHF reception fitted while the mast was off during the 1996-7 refit. The booster amp for this was all wired up in the forward starboard locker with antenna outlet sockets fitted here and near the chart table. There is also a 12V outlet socket which I fitted here at the same time, and another the other side of the boat. We had the telly working nicely as soon as it was out of the box, but setting it up to watch all evening was not at all easy.
|The mast-head light back up into fresh air on its extender pole. Good all-round visability again.
The antenna on the mast, made by Status, I had bought from Telesonic Marine, Southend-on-Sea. They had supplied it with an optional stand-off bracket for mast mounting. St Aubin's Boatyard had gone to fit it before they re-stepped the mast and found that the bracket was not designed big enough to support the radius of the antenna (it looks like a 12-inch flying saucer) away from the mast. They had phoned me at the time with the problem and suggested that they fit it right at the mast-head where it can overhang (or is it under-hang?) and overlap the mast by the required inch. I was not there to see what they meant so I agreed and left it to them.
When the mast was back up and I could see the problem, I realised that this solution may give nice reception from all sides but it completely obscured the mast-head light for nearly the whole port-side. I had been mildly depressed about this for nearly a year. I had brought it up in a conversation with Telesonic about a later mistake they had made, supplying 52 m of new anchor chain when I ordered 60 m. Their part-solution was to offer to have a bracket made for me which would raise the mast-head light a foot above its present height, back into clear air again. I believe they also sell a sensible antenna bracket with the Status aerial now.
|The wooden wedge tilts the screen downwards so we can see it from our bunks. Webbing straps hold the TV to the through-bolted woodwork. Black shoe-dye helps hide the plywood edge.
Fitting the mast-head light extender involved a new, longer cable for the light in the mast and some extra welding work on the stainless steel extender. But we still had the TV itself taking up valuable locker-space and not easy to watch.
West Marine of Watsonville, California, have an excellent range of lockable swing-out mounts in their catalogue. The medium-sized one sells for $120 and seemed about right. I ordered one and when it came, it was a very well-made item in black anodised aluminium with nice nylon bushes and bearings. The only problem was that the designers of the television must have envisioned it as a table-top product and had kindly tilted the screen upwards at about 20° to make viewing easier. Now that the TV was up near the ceiling this meant that from our seats you could hardly see it at all!
|Swivelled full out like this we can even watch tv while under way! Notice our designer curtain across the heads doorway.
I have a box full of teak, plastic and marine ply offcuts from the many re-construction jobs I have done on the boat in the last few years. I made a wooden wedge to lift the back of the TV up and screwed it to the flat mounting plate on the West bracket. I fabricated four little plastic cups to fit the telly's little feet and screwed them to the wooden wedge. Two webbing straps were sewn, with plastic buckles in them, to hold the TV down on top of the wedge with its feet held firmly by the cups.
The arrangement works very well and the telly is now a very welcome friend to the crew. We can watch TV while we work, from our bunks and even when at sea - several miles from land too!
It's a nice way to 'switch off' after a long day, it's homely and therefore comforting especially when well away from home. It's nice to see weather maps on the local forecasts when planning our sailing and, as it's a multi-standard set we should be able to do this in most foreign ports too. This will help when we are not so good at the local language and the weather map means a lot more than the detailed forecast!