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Old 17-04-2014, 07:22   #106
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

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Originally Posted by AllanR View Post
2. A satphone as a (limited) backup for the HF/SSB radio, and to take into a liferaft; where certainly it is more portable than the HF/SSB, but probably less useful than the waterproof marine VHF handheld radio (with DSC) that should also go into the liferaft.

3. The satphone is NOT listed by Yachting Australia or RHKYC as a legitimate substitute for a HF/SSB radio. Having a satellite comms system in the yacht is not considered - by people with lots of experience dealing with these topics and who might be asked to explain their decisions in a court - as a reasonable substitute for the marine HF/SSB radio with DSC.

Allan
Allan

Number 2 above is a strong statement and needs some explaining as it defies common sense, a sat phone is less useful that a handheld VHF radio? I guess it assumes that before you end up in the life raft you have already communicated your position to neighboring ships.

However, as I see it a sat phone would do double duty. One could make first contact with authorities from the life raft in a case of rapid egress from the yacht. One could vector nearby aid via a relay from an on shore coordinating facility using the sat phone replacing the role of the VHF in the life raft?

Please inform the lessons from the people with lots of experience dealing with these topics.
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Old 17-04-2014, 07:38   #107
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

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Originally Posted by AllanR View Post
I live on the other side of the world, in SE Asia. I operate Brunei Bay Radio (Brunei Bay Radio - HF/SSB radio email for isolated locations in SE Asia, the North West Pacific and Indian Oceans. The low-cost and reliable alternative to satellite email for isloated or remote locations, islands, communities, tourism, conservation,) which provides the SailMail service for this region. My background includes cruising and racing on the east coast of Australia and around SE Asia, and a 14 day passage in the Indian Ocean. And as a Yachtmaster Instructor with a commercial Master ticket, racing and cruising skipper and crew, and Churchill Fellow studying the operations and safety at adventure training organisations - on land and water - in the UK, Europe and North America.


Allan

Hello Allan,

I will be sailing to SE Asia (Philippines) next year. So far I have a Furuno FS1503 SSB and 2 VHF radios onboard. I was thinking of getting a Sat phone but after reading your post I am not sure if I would need one. Is my Furuno adequate for communication?

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Old 17-04-2014, 07:48   #108
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

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Hello Allan,

I will be sailing to SE Asia (Philippines) next year. So far I have a Furuno FS1503 SSB and 2 VHF radios onboard. I was thinking of getting a Sat phone but after reading your post I am not sure if I would need one. Is my Furuno adequate for communication?

Rob L
I would submit that by asking the question the Furuno would not be adequate. The Furuno in the hands of an experienced/serious hobbyist would do the job. However, if a casual user, I would go with the sat phone. Simple, no learning curve, stored emergency numbers, highest probability of making contact in an emergency, and portable.
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Old 17-04-2014, 08:15   #109
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

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Originally Posted by leightonyachts View Post
Hello Allan,

I will be sailing to SE Asia (Philippines) next year. So far I have a Furuno FS1503 SSB and 2 VHF radios onboard. I was thinking of getting a Sat phone but after reading your post I am not sure if I would need one. Is my Furuno adequate for communication?

Rob L
It doesn't look like it is a DSC radio. Do some Googling and you'll find that without DSC it probably isn't much good for attracting attention in an emergency.
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Old 17-04-2014, 08:24   #110
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

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It doesn't look like it is a DSC radio. Do some Googling and you'll find that without DSC it probably isn't much good for attracting attention in an emergency.

Thanks! I will do more research. The other issue with Sat phones is I heard that they have spotty reception in the Philippines.
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Old 17-04-2014, 08:37   #111
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

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Thanks! I will do more research. The other issue with Sat phones is I heard that they have spotty reception in the Philippines.
Iridiums are global coverage!

Satellite Phone - Iridium World Wide Coverage Map at GlobalCom
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Old 17-04-2014, 09:22   #112
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

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Yes, I use both. They are complementary technologies, not identical either in how they work or their potential uses.

SSB is a two-way long-distance communications technology using radio waves, broadcasted from your antenna. Anyone can listen and participate. It is extremely useful for such things as: keeping in touch with other boats, getting weather forecasts and broadcasts, participating in the various maritime nets, making phone calls thru a marine radio operator, just listening to other boats and boating news, sending/receiving email, etc., etc. It is also a valuable safety technology and is still much used by the cruising community.

BTW, the installation doesn't have to cost $6K. I do this for a living; you can get by for much less, depending on your circumstances and desires.

Satphone technology is a point-to-point technology based on satellites. Just like a telephone, you talk to -- and only to -- the person you're calling or who has called you. Other boats and shore-based stations cannot hear you. It is very useful for personal and business phone calls within the coverage area (Globalstar is limited; Inmarsat is global), and for downloading GRIB files and sending email (Globalstar is 4X as fast as Inmarsat in this regard). The cost of satphone service varies a lot, depending on your plan and on the amount of use.

I carry both, and a ham radio as well.

Which is the more useful? That depends very much on your preferences, your personal style, and what you intend to do with it.

To use a SSB effectively you must learn some things, and this takes time and patience. It also takes experience on-the-air and listening, e.g., to maritime nets. You can't just walk up to a SSB installation -- even a perfect one -- and expect to use it effectively.

Satphones require very little learning; they're more like "appliances".

Personally, I find SSB to be far more useful than satphones for the cruising sailor, but that's a personal preference. Maybe my years as a ham and marine SSB user bias me, but literally hundreds of cruising sailors out there right now would agree. And, their ranks are growing.

Bill
WA6CCA
excellent description. extremely helpful!
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Old 17-04-2014, 09:30   #113
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

btrayfors, Others

On a sideline, which email service providers are out there that provide reliable and fast emails for weather/grib files for Iridiums?

Steve
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Old 17-04-2014, 09:33   #114
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

I had great service with XGATE, rock solid stuff. I think there are less expensive options.
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Old 17-04-2014, 10:04   #115
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

We currently have SSB on board, and consider it adequate for our cruising in Mexico. That said, if we do the puddle jump (sail to South Pacific - maybe 30 day crossing) we will have a satphone on board. Might rent it just for the trip, but would not do it without - not that expensive and much more sure to talk to the right people should things go wrong.

Some of this is due to my wife and Rebel Heart experience. She looks at the SSB and wonders how the hell she would get help if I became incapacitated. Have to agree - a satphone would be very valuable in such emergencies.

A few years ago my opinion was not the same, but technology has improved and costs are more reasonable now.
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Old 17-04-2014, 10:11   #116
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

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Some of this is due to my wife and Rebel Heart experience. She looks at the SSB and wonders how the hell she would get help if I became incapacitated. Have to agree - a satphone would be very valuable in such emergencies.
Great point, I had not thought of it.
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Old 17-04-2014, 22:34   #117
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SSB or SatPhone ?

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Originally Posted by catamannie View Post
Hello all,



We currently have no long-range communication system on our sail boat. Since we're looking at close to $6000 for the purchase and installation of an ssb, a hand-held sat-phone and accompanying charges aren't looking that expensive. So, I thought I'd put it out there and see what people's preferences are and why. Is there anyone out there who uses both?



Thanks.

I do not know if you followed the story of Rebel Heart but what enabled their rescue was a sat phone. I would not cruise long range without one. I place a higher value on my family, friends, and my life than I do on money. I will sacrifice "wanted" items to have good communication capabilities. You can not count on anything like you can on a sat phone.
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Old 17-04-2014, 23:18   #118
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
Allan

Number 2 above is a strong statement and needs some explaining as it defies common sense, a sat phone is less useful that a handheld VHF radio? I guess it assumes that before you end up in the life raft you have already communicated your position to neighboring ships.

However, as I see it a sat phone would do double duty. One could make first contact with authorities from the life raft in a case of rapid egress from the yacht. One could vector nearby aid via a relay from an on shore coordinating facility using the sat phone replacing the role of the VHF in the life raft?

Please inform the lessons from the people with lots of experience dealing with these topics.
Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
Allan

Number 2 above is a strong statement and needs some explaining as it defies common sense, a sat phone is less useful that a handheld VHF radio? I guess it assumes that before you end up in the life raft you have already communicated your position to neighboring ships.

However, as I see it a sat phone would do double duty. One could make first contact with authorities from the life raft in a case of rapid egress from the yacht. One could vector nearby aid via a relay from an on shore coordinating facility using the sat phone replacing the role of the VHF in the life raft?

Please inform the lessons from the people with lots of experience dealing with these topics.
Hi Again,

I believe it depends on the operating circumstances. I think what you describe is likely to be very effective where RNLI lifeboats and Coast Guard helicopters are available 24/7 to quickly respond. MRCC UK recommends using a satphone to call them if beyond VHF marine (with DSC) radio range. If boating is done under the umbrella of such excellent resources making a call - via radio, cellphone or satphone - to the central S&R management centre, is sure to be a very effective strategy. It can work when in range of some of Australia's (limited) S&R resouces, and also in Hong Kong if within range of government helicopters etc.

But throughout most of this side of the world - in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, around Australia and in most of SE Asia - those excellent S&R resources simply do not exist; apart from some limited areas (above).

My earlier post quoted from MRCC Australia's website about how they need to get assistance from other resources - ships, yachts, fishing trawlers etc - when someone calls them for help. Look at MRCC Hong Kong's website and you will see a similar statement: "Hong Kong MRCC neither possesses nor has direct command over SAR resources... For help in the distant parts of our Search and Rescue Region where Government resources cannot reach, the Hong Kong MRCC must rely upon the assistance of merchants ships and fishing vessel in the vicinity of the distress."

Therefore, RHKYC and Yachting Australia say it's more important to have a DSC capable HF/SSB and VHF and portable VHF radios. Prompt assistance in remote or lightly populated areas unsupported by professional 24/7 rescue services, is more likely to come from contacting - by radio - another nearby mariner; as advised by MRCC Australia on their website.

The satphone can be a useful backup in these operating areas. Depth-in- defence is as smart when sailing as it is on the football field. But carry the saphone with a full realisation that - for numerous practical reasons - it is not the recommended option, and it has limitations. For example, Iridium phones work well in higher latitudes, but not so well in lower latitudes, because the polar orbiting satellites are spaced widest apart at the equator. And because high density clouds can stop the signal; just like they stop the regional satellite TV service.

When Iridium had one satellite damaged by a collision, their service reliability really dropped. But HF/SSB and VHF marine radios kept working.

The other great benefit I see flowing to cruisers in this region with the HF/SSB radio with DSC is that it can also be used lots of free general communications between yachts in a rally, or yachts in a group of reciprocal assistance cruising buddies, to share information, get advice, arrange arrival formalities, learn if there are weekend charges for checking in etc. Individual yachts could be spread out over some hundreds of nm - for example in Indonesia - enjoying different venues, attractions, anchorages etc. But they can quickly call each other individually using their MMSI ID, or send one group DSC call to alert all the yachts in the same group.

The modern marine HF/SSB radio with DSC will help cut the overall cost of cruising, contribute to the convenience and fun of a cruise, and in the unlikely event of an emergency, it can help solve a problem, too; for any mariner.

I hope this is useful.

Regards

Allan
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Old 18-04-2014, 00:13   #119
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

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Originally Posted by boating2go View Post
I do not know if you followed the story of Rebel Heart but what enabled their rescue was a sat phone. I would not cruise long range without one. I place a higher value on my family, friends, and my life than I do on money. I will sacrifice "wanted" items to have good communication capabilities. You can not count on anything like you can on a sat phone.
To clarify the circumstances, this Rebel Heart incident occurred under the umbrella of the outstanding S&R resources available in the area. From the Sailing World article "In a large coordinated effort, the California Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing worked with the Navy to send four pararescuemen, who jumped from a plane into the ocean and climbed aboard the Rebel Heart boat to treat Lyra."

As per my previous posts, therefore a satphone call to a central S&R service - with 24/7 quick response rescue resources available - could produce the result.

A DSC distress call from a HF/SSB radio would have produced a similar result, because the DSC distress alarm would have been received by the Coast Guard, and also by the nearby naval vessel, and any other vessel that might have been closer. And if communications to organise the rescue took some time, the HF/SSB radio would not run out of satphone credit.

But it is beyond the umbrella of the air wing and navy vessels (presumably a high concentration in that area because of drug traffic interdiction) where the unique capabilities of the modern, DSC marine HF/SSB radio really takes over; because with one button press, it can alert any nearby vessel - commercial, government, cruise ship, dive or surf charter boat, yacht, fishing trawler etc - with a similar radio, without knowing if they are there or not, and without knowing their satphone number. And the DSC alarm will alert MRCCs too, in case they have a better solution.

The radios were specifically designed to maximise the opportunity to get prompt assistance, regardless of location and regardless of whether under a professional S&R umbrella, or not.

These DSC capable HF/SSB radios have a GPS input, so when a distress DSC alarm is sent, the precise position is also sent and displayed on the receiving radios. A radio installer in Darwin (Australia) has commented that these radios have taken the search out of search-and-rescue, significantly reducing the demands on other mariners to look for a vessel in distress, quickly allowing nearby vessels to identify which is closest to the vessel in distress; thereby reducing the time before assistance arrives.
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Old 18-04-2014, 00:37   #120
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Re: SSB or SatPhone ?

The account included here...
Westerly Owners Association € View topic - Sealord Owners
.... of the loss of Brilliance in the south atlantic may be of interest, involving as it did EPIRB and Sailmail ( you know what they say.... you gotta dance with the one that you brought to the dance).
Also that although Mike tried the DSC working frequencies (after he had been in touch with MRCC UK) he was unable to make contact on any of them.
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