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Old 13-02-2011, 15:37   #31
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???? Why not just do a little homework and put the nearest countries SAR number in your sat phone directory ahead of time. You can dial at your leisure once you get things squared away in the life raft rather than rushing things on the SSB before you have to step up!
Because the SAR people in other countries, as seen in the sinking one year ago of S/V Concordia, aren't of the same quality or alacrity as one might wish should one be watching the stern of one's home disappearing. In many places in the Pacific, they are either non-existent or contracted out to other countries, like New Zealand, who might be unable to reach you without diverting a ship. If then.

When (or more positively, if) I have to call MAYDAY, I will hit the red DSC button, call MAYDAY on the distress frequencies, shout MAYDAY on 16 and use the satphone. Obviously, an EPIRB comes into play there. Maybe even the SPOT.

Whatever works. I want anyone even remotely close to take note, because the fewer hours we spend in the raft, the better our chances.
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Old 13-02-2011, 16:00   #32
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HF/SSB Radio is Still Extremely Valuable for Cruisers

Thirty-six years ago while stationed in Rabat, Morocco I launched the Trans-Atlantic Maritime Mobile Net, together with a colleague in Barbados. Our purpose was to provide a service for yachts making the crossing between the Canaries and the West Indies...mostly Barbados...and, also, for other yachts in the Mediterranean and in Europe.

That Net ran daily for some 32 years on 21400 kHz at 1300Z, most of that time hosted by Trudy, 8P6HM in Barbados. It only stopped because propagation on 15 meters was abhorrent at the bottom of the present sunspot cycle.

On average, then, we counted some 200 plus boats in Barbados alone having crossed the Big Pond. We provided all sorts of assistance, including navigational assistance (I once even did sight reduction calculations for an intrepid sailor who couldn't master celestial navigation but set out anyway!).

Fast forward to present time. Just over an hour ago I finished the install of a marine SSB on a 36' sloop. Three minutes after powering up, we contacted a station over 1,000 miles away with excellent signal reports. The boat was in a marina...the absolute worst place for SSB contacts, due to local interference from wiring, onboard electronics and devices on neighboring boats, etc.

Every day I participate in the WaterWay Net (7268kHz LSB beginning at 0745 Eastern Time). We provide weather, navigational warnings, boat watches, safety information, and take position reports from boats underway and at rest. I'm Net Control on Mondays...listen in if you will....you'll hear me: WA6CCA. I do relays and other chores on other days of the week. We contact boats from Maine and Canada to the Caribbean. Every single day.

Also, every day, the Cruizheimer's Net takes place beginning at 0830 Eastern Time on 6516 kHz USB...a simplex marine band frequency. On average, some 50-80 boats check in each day, giving their positions and exchanging information and greetings. TechNet's take place twice a week; these are designed to solve cruisers problems with any equipment aboard.

The Maritime Mobile Service Net has been operating continuously for decades on 14300 kHz from about 1100 Eastern time to after dark. It has a longer reach than the other two nets, easily reaching boats far out into the Atlantic and the Gulf. The U.S. Coast Guard often comes up on this ham frequency to work a distress situation.

Many other nets...both ham and marine...take place daily. You only need to listen in to them for awhile to get an inkling of their popularity and their value to cruisers.

When I hear statements like, "we were unable to make a contact" or "we didn't hear a single SSB conversation" it only means one thing, folks: a total lack of experience. I don't care what license you hold, if you can't make a good SSB contact within a few minutes of switching on, YOU JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU'RE DOING. Don't try to convince me otherwise and please, please, don't tell me that satphones can do the same things as SSB. They're wonderful in their place (I've carried one aboard for years), but they are NOT a direct substitute for SSB.

Sorry for the rant, but I get damned tired of people making claims/representations which just belie the facts.

And the bottom-line fact-of-the-matter is that SSB has been and continues to be an extremely useful resource for cruising sailors. And, contrary to popular belief, the number of sailors with SSBs aboard and, in particular, with ham licenses continues to grow.

(END RANT)

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Old 13-02-2011, 16:23   #33
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That Net ran daily for some 32 years on 21400 kHz at 1300Z, most of that time hosted by Trudy, 8P6HM in Barbados. It only stopped because propagation on 15 meters was abhorrent at the bottom of the present sunspot cycle.

When I hear statements like, "we were unable to make a contact" or "we didn't hear a single SSB conversation" it only means one thing, folks: a total lack of experience. I don't care what license you hold, if you can't make a good SSB contact within a few minutes of switching on, YOU JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU'RE DOING. Don't try to convince me otherwise and please, please, don't tell me that satphones can do the same things as SSB. They're wonderful in their place (I've carried one aboard for years), but they are NOT a direct substitute for SSB.
(END RANT)

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Bill, This summer there were a fair number of people on the North Atlantic that by your definition didn't know what they were doing with their SSBs. BTW, an extreme minimum on the sunspot cycle this summer. You raise a number of good points in defense of the SSB but however you cast it, it was a tough summer for propagation.

For myself I valued the reliability and efficiency of the sat phone over the potential benefits of the SSB with the corresponding propagation uncertainties and time commitment that comes with it.

I believe that because of the SSB learning curve, use inefficiencies (time needed to get data), and unreliability, that the sat phone will dominate in the future. It's nothing personal just normal evolution when new technology becomes available. Using SSBs will become a hobby. It's why I have a car and not a horse. That said, some people still have horses.
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Old 13-02-2011, 17:23   #34
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I am a little surprised that no one has mentioned....what if the boat you would like to communicate with does not have a SAT PHONE??

I would venture to say that most cruising boats, if they have some long distance communication technology, have an SSB. They may also have a sat phone, ham radio or something else...but they have an SSB (or ham radio). SO....why would you not want to install an SSB?

Bill has mentioned the Cruiseheimers net and the MMSN. Both are invaluable resources, that are not going away anytime soon. Thank you, to the folks that started those nets.

As far as getting an installation right....there is so much expertise ...for free...right here and many other places, you would be hard pressed to get it wrong. And...the technology...since it IS old....is ROBUST. It is really hard to blow it with a good marine SSB (of course...using a ham radio...you can get all sorts of controls wrong and really do a bad job...but that is why they make MARINE SSB's).

I started out with an OLD used ICOM M-700 (not the pro) I got off ebay for $450 and a very cheap LDG tuner. I rigged a long wire from a halyard for my first comm and not having a counterpoise installed...simply clipped the wire from the counterpoise lead to my mast (which is grounded to the sea..by a strap). Worked fine, made contacts in GA, while I was in FL.

My best to all

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Old 13-02-2011, 22:25   #35
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(About getting WFAX charts via SSB or satphone email) -
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Sure - but I can get those free over HF/SSB (with an inexpensive Katio 1103 and a laptop on deliveries). Why pay for e-mail for that stuff? Just my real-world experience.
The only reason I can give you is convenience. I've used my SSB, pactor modem decoder, and laptop to receive WFAX charts directly, but I prefer getting them via email. Email is quicker, you get a cleaner chart if there is any noise on the channel, and you don't have to wait for the WFAX you want to come around on the schedule. For off-the-air WFAX I use GetFax and its very useful scheduling ability, but it still means everything's got to be up and running at the right time.

The Kato receiver and laptop soundcard demodulator WFAX receiving setup is definitely the least-expensive, lowest-power-consumption way to go, and works fine if you choose your time/frequency well. With email I'm paying for convenience. I also use email for other things so I have the gear anyway.

(You did say "I haven't found a grib model yet that shows fronts, which are what I care about the most." so I was trying to be helpful.)
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Old 14-02-2011, 09:32   #36
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Thanks Paul. I'm glad there is an opportunity for people to pay for convenience. I haven't had a clarity problem with over-the-air WEFAX.

All the grib models I'm aware of don't show fronts, so that is still a huge downside to me. If there is a model that does include fronts I'd be thrilled to see it. Some of the boats I deliver only have systems for gribs. That's WHY I carry the Kaito and my laptop.
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Old 14-02-2011, 11:04   #37
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(END RANT)

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Bill,

Thats only one ocean. Not even that... half of one ocean.
I know you and I have our own set opinions, but I do kinda think that in that one halfa-ocean, the North Atlantic, there are HF radios being used. But the rest of the world its just not up to the marks you're talking about.

The area covered by Asia has only one HF email transmitter (sailmail or winlink I dunno) and they talk about closing that down. Its normally unreadable and subject to being off more than its on.
The radio nets outside the North Atlantic are NOT worth a pinch of poop. The ones that do work - to a degree- are the purpose set up temporary nets like the current Rum Runners (a group of Aussies in the Carib heading home) or the nets from Thailand to Egypt that spontaneously started for the one group traveling 'together'. The usefulness of those nets is fast diminishing too as Sat Coms take over. Its more secure (pirates) and more liable that everyone gets the messages.

Just one example of the security was a funny breach of code in the net to Pirate Alley last year.
I had my pencil and paper out to hear the encoded lat&lon's and Nic was timing me to see how long it would take me to break the code. One cute and cudly yachting journalist who shall remain nameless (especially as he has given Sea Life a nice mention in his latest book!!) said: "My position....XXXX [in code] I left Uligan, Maldives yesterday at 9am did 95 miles on a course of 305 deg". One code blown outta the water! LOLOL
The same done by email would have been secure.

Those staying in the North Atlantic and listening to Herb, et al, may get a cheap HF second hand, but over the next 5 years there will be a dieing off of HF services where the Herb's, Georges and Chris's give 5 minutes of their time to an individual on a scratchy HF when they can make more money by a 60 second email to a automatated list with attached graphics.... or folks will just download their own Gribs, PassageWeather or Wind Guru whilst viewing a bit of sleazy porn.....


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Old 14-02-2011, 11:41   #38
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MarkJ,

Yes, we disagree on most things having to do with SSB, as well as a few other things (like Indonesia as a cruising ground).

However, I agree with you about situations where privacy is desired, like in "Pirate Alley"...either use a more robust voice code or use a non-broadcast medium.

I most certainly do NOT agree with your assessment of either the current status or the future of SSB radio aboard cruising boats. One example: from your post one would think PMBOs and email is just about disappearing. Nothing could be further from the truth, either in the "half-ocean" area you like to talk about or worldwide.

Check these out:

Click image for larger version

Name:	SailMailPactorStations.jpg
Views:	127
Size:	113.6 KB
ID:	23792

Click image for larger version

Name:	WinLinkStationsFeb2011.jpg
Views:	99
Size:	51.9 KB
ID:	23793

Click image for larger version

Name:	WinLink Activity Jan 2011.jpg
Views:	100
Size:	92.2 KB
ID:	23794

This doesn't look to me like there's a dearth of activity on Pactor -- either commercial SailMail or ham WinLink -- and I can tell you from my own participation in the maritime nets, my professional work with marine electronics, and from the exams for new hams that the trend is UP, not down.

Understand that I'm not knocking the new technologies. I like 'em and use them myself. However, satphones and the like are NOT a subsitute for marine or ham HF/SSB radio....these are complementary technologies. Their age is irrelevant. Consider that Rudolph Diesel developed the diesel engine concept and built a working model over 100 years ago. I don't know of many sailors planning to toss their diesel because it's "old technology".

Bill
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Old 14-02-2011, 11:49   #39
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Mark, on a different half of a different ocean, the Pacific Seafarer's Net has been running more or less continuously for many years. I've had no problem checking in from the mid NE Pacific.

Auspicious, you are correct, there is no GRIB available for frontal information. In some areas you can get the "Fleet-Code" data via email, and there is a decoder available that will display this text format graphically. I think the areas covered by Fleet Code is pretty limited (South Pacific only?). Valhalla has a nice writeup: IAC Fleet Code* The solution to finding the elusive tropical convergence zones
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Old 14-02-2011, 11:55   #40
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or folks will just download their own Gribs, PassageWeather or Wind Guru whilst viewing a bit of sleazy porn.....
Mark, unfortunately my Iridium satphone just doesn't have the bandwidth for downloading a useful amount of sleazy porn. Perhaps I need to upgrade?
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Old 14-02-2011, 12:42   #41
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Consider that Rudolph Diesel developed the diesel engine concept and built a working model over 100 years ago. I don't know of many sailors planning to toss their diesel because it's "old technology".

Bill
i love that my friend! as a ham I am involved also on land in emergency communications and don't matter with all the new technology in ham radio you simply cannot get rid of a good old H.F rig for emergency communications. yes sat fones have become more popular but with the expected increase in solar activity sat comms could and will seriously affected.now think how disastrous this could be. you are sailing out in the middle of the ocean an sat comms are down only to realize you are out of vhf range and you tossed your ssb thank God you have a EPIRB or u don't! dam sats are down to.don't get me wrong i am in no way knocking a sat fone.if it was me i would keep a sat fone as a back up but ssb in my book is here a long time and won't go away in a hurry!
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Old 14-02-2011, 14:24   #42
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I agree with all the comments made in support of both SSB and sat phone technologies. If my cruising kitty allows it, I will eventually have an SSB installed to compliment my existing emergency communication strategy, but given the alternatives available today, SSB is not at the top of my list. The fact that my current cruising plan doesnít take me across oceans or away from land for weeks on end (yet) also plays a factor in this decision.

When I think of the worst case scenarios, there are a couple limitations to an SSB installation which tips the scale for me.
  • Demasting
  • Sinking ship

IMO either one of these situations greatly reduces the reliability/use of an SSB. Am I wrong in assuming that losing the antenna will significantly reduce transmission range? If a boat is sinking, the crew may also be severely limited in the amount of time they have to dispatch a mayday on the SSB.

My emergency procedures include Iridium satphone, SPOT and EPIRB technologies. This redundancy ensures that the most important piece of information (my coordinates) are relayed to multiple sources, including coast guard and 3rd Party SAR. It goes without saying that the EPIRB would be deployed immediately. The SPOT allows you the flexibility to send customized messages to a distribution list of users via email, as well as, a separate function to send S.O.S messages to the GEOS International Emergency Response Centre. The sat phone then becomes a 2nd or 3rd form of communication. All three technologies offer mobility and peace of mind that donít come with an SSB system sitting at the bottom of the ocean Ė again Iím preparing for worst case situation. To listen in on marine SSB nets, Iím gonna try using the Grundig G3 receiver.
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Old 15-02-2011, 05:45   #43
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MarkJ,

One example: from your post one would think PMBOs and email is just about disappearing. Nothing could be further from the truth, either in the "half-ocean" area you like to talk about or worldwide.

Check these out:

Attachment 23792

Bill
Your world map can show my argument too: Look at all the splatters of red around the coast of the USA, but each other Continent has only ONE red blob.

In the USA the red blobbits touch each other as they are in abundance. But the rest of the world they stand out like a clover field in a desert. (I was trying to think of a dirty analogy but its too early in the morning - or I'm too pure )

I would think in the future you will find forums like this set up chat rooms for Sat internet use. The morning radio sched will come through here and the messages will stay till deleted. Maybe text only, low bandwidth etc. No more dragging the butt outta bed.
The future probably is something like the form of an iPad where as well as 3G connection it has sat data so you play with it at the helm. I could even integrate mine so you could control my boat while I zip below for a few hours Zzzzz's. Call me if there's an AIS contact



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Old 15-02-2011, 06:19   #44
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Mark,

Sorry I didn't label the map well: it represents SAILMAIL only...the commercial setup on the marine frequencies. It doesn't include all the WinLink stations (ham). A rough count of these includes:

U.S. 23 stations
Canary Is 2
China 1
Azores 1
Germany 4
Philippines 1
Switzerland 2
Panama 1
Italy 1
Austria 2
Belgium 1
Holland 1
Russia 1
Canada 3
Australia 4
India 3
Indonesia 1
South Africa 2
New Zealand 3

These stations can and do cover traffic from just about any part of the world.

You're probably right about the future of Ipads and such. And, in the foreseeable future, kids will be born with over-developed thumbs!

Be careful down below: The fishing vessel you're about to run into doesn't have AIS :-)

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Old 15-02-2011, 06:31   #45
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. And, in the foreseeable future, kids will be born with over-developed thumbs!
Kids will be born with slimer thumbs - fat ones won't fit the micro-keyboards!
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