Question: Below is a photo of the GPS antenna on my boat. As you can see, the antenna is really close to one of my primary winches. I’m afraid the line is going to get caught around the antenna at some point in the heat of battle (we race Wednesday nights at our yacht club) and get torn out of its deck mount.

GPS antenna placement

Mounting a GPS antenna this close to sail-handling lines is asking for trouble.

Any suggestions on a better location for this antenna? I rely on my GPS as a critical piece of electronics for both racing and cruising on my sailing boat.

Answer: You are quite right that the present location is not very good. Understand that many of the folks who do these installations are basically electronics geeks and may never have actually been on a sailing yacht underway, so they really have no concept of why this location is bad. I’ve seen similar arrangements with low-profile GPS antennas located on a coaming where someone is quite likely to sit while the boat is underway. Trust me; the antenna won’t see much when it's buried under someone's butt cheek.

To answer your question, the best location is going to be as far aft as it can be mounted - under a stern rail, preferably, so that no one will be inclined to sit on it or step on it, and out of the way of sail-handling sheets and lines. The antenna will give its best performance with a clear view of the sky, so under a bimini top or dodger is somewhat limiting, but generally not too much of a problem.

The general rule of thumb is to put it as out of the way as you can get it, but still ensure a clear view of the sky.

Written by: Ed Sherman
Ed Sherman is a regular contributor to, as well as to Professional Boatbuilder and Cruising World, where he previously was electronics editor. He also is the curriculum director for the American Boat and Yacht Council. Previously, Ed was chairman of the Marine Technology Department at the New England Institute of Technology. Ed’s blog posts appear courtesy of his website, EdsBoatTips.