Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 29-05-2014, 14:00   #76
Registered User
 
ka4wja's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Boat: Catalina 470
Posts: 2,033
Re: Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

Dan,
A bit off-topic, so I sort of forgot about this...

I am a BIG proponent of solar!!!
I have had a 520-watt un-shaded array (w/ MPPT controllers) running 24/7, since 2006....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Exile View Post
Nice article & pics on the water generator, John. Although actual output may be less than mfg. specs, it still seems realistic to meet daily needs, even on my power-hungry boat. I am inclined to start off with solar panels, but don't care for the wind gens and so the water gen would likely be my next step.
Solar is king, in my book!!

Install as much un-shaded solar as you can fit and afford...and you will never regret it!!!
Nobody ever says they have too much solar!!

Have a look at my set-up...

Solar Panels







Battery

Frig/Freezer


Lots of solar, excellent refrig/freezer insulation, use of LED lights (Sensi-Bulb and Sylvania), big battery capacity, etc...all contribute to a quiet and easy life on-board, whether at sea o at anchor....
Except for a few afternoons working on the boat last summer (in hot/humid S. Florida), where I ran the Air Cond for a few hours each day, I haven't plugged into shore power in years!!

(the towed-water-gen, is just for cloudy days at sea...when my electrical demand exceeds what the solar panels can replace...)


I hope this helps...


John
s/v Annie Laurie
__________________

__________________
ka4wja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 29-05-2014, 15:37   #77
Registered User
 
Exile's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Land of Disenchantment
Boat: Bristol 47.7
Posts: 2,964
Re: Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Dan,
The Iridium GO, is a cool piece of gear....although I'v not personally seen/used it, it seems like it is even better than "plug-'n-play", as there is no "plugging" needed...
But while you grasp that it is still low-speed data to/from the satellite, and this limits you to e-mail, text, SMS, etc...I hope others understand that...

Also, I hope that whatever Smartphone Apps, messaging, etc. people utilize thru it, will not chew up all their data availability/air-time???
I can just see folks getting BIG bills for their month usage and not realizing what they are spending 'til they get the bill....
(this has happened to a LOT of users of INMARSAT FB, Iridium Pilot, etc....where "always-on" internet just keeps on going, updating, checking mail, playing music, etc. even with nobody at the keyboard....I've heard of a few dozen FB users whose first monthly bill was almost $5k....and I think INMARSAT did what most phone companies do, they gave 'em a ONE-TIME credit and told them how not to get hit with the big bill again...)


Also, since I haven't seen the GO yet, I don't know rugged/weather-proof it is?? So, wondering if it'll survive well in the cockpit / under the dodger at sea....or is it going to be something that most will only use in calm weather or at anchor???


Sorry about all my ????, but I haven't seen it yet...


Fair winds.

John
s/v Annie Laurie
Usually I'm the one with all of the ????. Role reversal? I wish . . . .

Good point about the possibility of unknowingly chewing up air time. Like the Iridium sat phone, it reportedly does have the ability to download Grib & maybe even text weather files, as well as send periodic tracking info, so the possibility exists for large bills if left on for extended periods. For e-mail & maybe even text, I would anticipate the app to have filtering capabilities, for example assigning a separate e-address that you only give out to a few people while you're away from regular cell/internet coverage. Good questions to follow through on.

As for its ruggedness, I had assumed that, like my 9555, it was essentially a below-decks application in wet weather, with the ability to connect to an external antenna (which has always worked well for me). That may not, however, be a safe assumption. In any event, and assuming some of these issues can be surmounted, I like the idea of having one, sat-based device to accomplish several functions.

In my particular case, the application for the sat phone has been exclusively for outgoing, emerg. comms., so it is always left off (but usually on a charge) at the nav station down below. Fortunately, I've never had to avail myself of it for a true emergency, but it has been used on occasion for myself & crew to check in with wives, girlfriends, etc., a circumstance which can arise to the level of an "emerg." with astonishing frequency at times.

As you point out and others emphasized earlier, it has some crossover but is really an entirely different application from HF radio.

Dan
__________________

__________________
Exile is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 30-05-2014, 14:46   #78
Registered User
 
Exile's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Land of Disenchantment
Boat: Bristol 47.7
Posts: 2,964
Re: Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Dan,
A bit off-topic, so I sort of forgot about this...

I am a BIG proponent of solar!!!
I have had a 520-watt un-shaded array (w/ MPPT controllers) running 24/7, since 2006....Solar is king, in my book!!

Install as much un-shaded solar as you can fit and afford...and you will never regret it!!!
Nobody ever says they have too much solar!!

Have a look at my set-up...

Solar Panels







Battery

Frig/Freezer


Lots of solar, excellent refrig/freezer insulation, use of LED lights (Sensi-Bulb and Sylvania), big battery capacity, etc...all contribute to a quiet and easy life on-board, whether at sea o at anchor....
Except for a few afternoons working on the boat last summer (in hot/humid S. Florida), where I ran the Air Cond for a few hours each day, I haven't plugged into shore power in years!!

(the towed-water-gen, is just for cloudy days at sea...when my electrical demand exceeds what the solar panels can replace...)


I hope this helps...


John
s/v Annie Laurie

Yes, I had checked out your solar set-up awhile back on the C47 site, and also read how little diesel you consumed on at least one of your trans-atlantic crossings, if not both. As far as I'm concerned, this is the ideal way to operate a sailing vessel!

I've always preferred solar over the alternatives since there are no moving parts and it entails little or no maintenance. My boat already has a lot of systems, and I am loathe to add any more unless there are significant benefits that outweigh the financial & maint. costs. My end-goal would be to remove my diesel genset altogether, but I am far off from that point right now.

There are a couple of obstacles, and they both involve my own, purely personal preferences. For one, I have no arches or davits and likely never will. I also don't like the idea of large, heavy panels affixed to stanchions. While I have a bimini, I prefer not to sail with it deployed unless in the sub-tropics, so I would prefer that it not be permanently affixed. The dodger is almost always up, but there again I prefer knowing I can remove it in the event of a storm/hurricane threat to reduce windage.

So this leaves me with room for probably one 100w fixed panel immediately forward of the dodger (partial shading from boom/mainsail), and perhaps one or two locations for modest-sized, flexible panels affixed to the deck. What probably makes the most sense are the ones with nonskid that you can walk on, but as far as I know they are only available from Aurinco & Solbian and they are $$$!! The other option may be a less expensive flexible or folding panel that I can tie down on top of the boom, but only at the dock or at anchor, obviously.

So in the meantime, I haven't installed any solar yet, and have relied exclusively on my 8kw genset and a Honda 2k for backup. Let me know if you have any ideas! I'm hoping that, in time, the cost & efficiency of these flexible, nonskid panels will improve.

Your battery & fridge/freezer set-ups look most interesting as well. Since you have a similarly-sized boat, I'd also love to discover your thoughts about auto-pilots & self-steering. We're probably getting far afield from the thread topic, however, so perhaps I could PM you if/when convenient.

John -- Thanks for sharing your many improvements, know-how, and experiences. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has benefitted.

Dan
__________________
Exile is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-06-2014, 08:01   #79
Registered User
 
Exile's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Land of Disenchantment
Boat: Bristol 47.7
Posts: 2,964
Re: Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

Single Sideband Radio - Inside Practical Sailor Blog Article
__________________
Exile is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-06-2014, 10:28   #80
֍֎֍֎֍֎֍֎֍֎

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 13,056
Re: Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

Dan-
Before you start paving the deck, check out www.solarstik.com for their marine product. It is damned expensive, but if you've had any custom metal fabrication done, that's just the way it goes.
Their basic concept is to mount the panels on a pole that can be installed in the rear corner of your cockpit, or outboard on the transom. That gets them clear of the entire boat.
Pros and cons of the solarstik, or a DIY similar, sure. But it is an option to "pavement" and arches. (I've always thought dodgers and straightjackets had a lot in common.)
__________________
hellosailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-06-2014, 13:53   #81
Registered User
 
ka4wja's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Boat: Catalina 470
Posts: 2,033
Re: Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

Dan,
Thanks for the heads-up about this...
There is a lot of disingenuous info/words there, as well as some out-right falsehoods...


FYI, here is the e-mail that I just sent to the editor of Practical Sailor...
Not sure how he'll respond, but I am hopeful...

Quote:
Dear Practical sailor editors:

As a longtime Practical Sailor subscriber (and someone whose parents were subscribers way way back), I'd like to first say "Thank You".
Thank you for a place where unbiased information is presented in a helpful way.

My primary reason for writing today is to provide some much needed information for you, for your up-coming September article on SSB radios, and to comment on the recent Practical Sailor blog posting, titled " Is the Single-sideband Radio Still Relevant?". (I'll start with the latter)

( It seems that the Practical Sailor blog posting is like many, when it takes a few small kernels of fact and then expands / extrapolates widely, implying things that are not true....and even states things as truths, but leaves out the "whole truth" and underlying factual information....as well as has some blatant inaccuracies.....and I do NOT wish your published article to be filled with this misinformation!!)


1) In that Practical Sailor blog posting, you wrote "As with any apples-to-oranges comparison of two totally different systems providing the same features or services (voice communications, e-mail, etc.) both will invariably have their pros and cons."
But, this is actually not accurate.
While I agree this is an apples-to-oranges comparison, these different systems do NOT provide the same features and services.

Marine SSB Radio (or more accurately Maritime MF/HF-DSC-SSB communications), is a "broadcast" type of communications, in that it goes from one-to-everyone all at once.

Satellite communications, and in particular satellite phones, are a "point-to-point" type of communications, in that it goes from one-to-one only. (although "technically" if you were equipped and set-up to send e-mails thru a satellite phone, you could send an e-mail to multiple people/entities)

The myth that satellite phones provide the same "features and services" that Maritime HF-DSC-SSB communications do, is just that.....a myth.
Yes, you CAN use both to make a phone call (and when within 4000 - 5000 miles of Mobile, AL and/or Seattle, WA, or within a few thousand miles of Brunei, Australia, and the other few active Voice / Radio-telephone interconnect coast stations, using the Marine SSB for a telephone call is much less expensive)...
And, yes, you can send/receive e-mails thru both (Sailmail, Winlink, Winmor, PACTOR, PSKMail, Ocens, UUPlus, X-Gate, etc.)...
BUT..
But other than these two "services", satellite phones and Marine SSB couldn't be farther apart in their "features and services".
And, I believe if Practical Sailor wishes to maintain their well-earned reputation for direct, honest information, that the editorial department may wish to educate themselves on these topics further, BEFORE starting to write / publish an article on this subject matter.

Your set-up to this piece is also telling, as it further ignores the facts that sat phones are a "point-to-point" type of communications, versus the Marine SSB which is a "broadcast" type of communications.
When you write: "While single-sideband radios have long been a priority aboard any serious cruising vessel, technology has put the squeeze on SSBs reign as the defacto choice for long-range communications in recent years. The challengers are satellite-based communication devices that have stormed the market in recent years (see reviews in PS January 2013 and March 2013 issues). Of these, satellite phones are the primary high-seas communication alternative to SSB transceivers (a fancy word meaning it can both transmit and receive). Satphones have become particularly attractive since the introduction of affordable (or at least more affordable) units and service plans."
Although the first sentence of this paragraph is factual, this gives the reader the inference that the rest of the paragraph is factual as well, but it is NOT...
Your words here do more than imply that a satellite phone is an "alternative" to a Marine SSB, you actually state this as a fact.
This is a very bold statement to make, and one that I and many, many other seasoned sailors (as well as the GMDSS, the IMO, etc.) would deny is anywhere near being a "fact", regardless of what the glossy magazines may wish to portray, nor what the consumer marketplace may be trying to force upon sailors, a "sat phone" is NOT an alternative to a MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone (transceiver).

Please understand that I am NOT trying to be argumentative at all, nor am I attempting to "voice my opinion" here.
I am merely trying to point out that while some sailors/cruisers are being "sold" on buying a sat phone, and are being disingenuously told by the glossy media and the consumer electronics industry, that a sat phone is an alternative to a Marine SSB, the facts are that they are two very different systems, that do VERY DIFFERENT things.

And, for Practical Sailor to write differently is a very serious error / oversight.
I understand that nobody wants to be told they're wrong...and certainly no journalist willingly accepts the words of one of their readers as "fact", so I implore you to contact me directly, and speak to others that actually understand BOTH of these technologies fully and completely (not just the same 'ole guys that tout the same 'ole BS, year after year, but actually speak to people that know what they are talking about), and further, to others like myself that understand the GMDSS and HF-DSC and HF-SSB communications vital role in the GMDSS.
And please, do this BEFORE you write and publish more on these subjects!!!!



2) Please understand that while I've been using (and installing) Marine HF systems now for about 40 years (as well as many ham HF systems for the past 35 years, on-board and on-shore), I fully realize that these systems still have some sort of undeserved "mystery" about them. And, I accept that many (most?) sailors and laypersons have mainly been "educated" about them by sales brochures and/or well-meaning but flawed input from "experts" touting one thing or another, and/or folks with some hidden agenda, and/or product/service to promote.

I have NO such agenda, nor product/service to promote, nor any axe-to-grind with anyone/any service. (although, I've made my living in commercial electronics/sat comm for the past 30 years, and I know a great deal about "marine electronics", it is only my hobby, so I have no hidden agenda here!) And, be assured that I'm not "anti-satellite" in anyway!
My ONLY goal here is to inform/assist all of you BEFORE you write/publish anything further on Marine SSB and sat phones...

{Just a few years back "Cruising World" had an article about a rescue of an injured sailor from a racing sailboat returning to the US after the Newport-Bermuda Race....the author mentioned they had no luck raising anyone on "2182khz" in the middle of the day (from about halfway between Bermuda and Rhode Island), so he ended up using his satellite phone to call the USCG....The editorial staff saw fit to publish a "side-bar" listing the phone numbers of the various USCG Offices and Rescue Coordination Centers, along with the advice to program these into your sat phones before heading offshore.BUT...But, they made NO mention that at that time, with the exception of the USCG, NOBODY was monitoring 2182 anymore, and hadn't for over a decade (since the implementation of the GMDSS in Jan 1999).....and even prior to 1999 most SOLAS vessels at sea and coast stations were using "2182-alarm receivers" (which do not alert from a Voice "mayday", but with a 2-tone alarm signal sent by a so-equipped radio) to maintain a radio watch.Further, they made NO mention that this frequency was the wrong frequency to use to try to raise a coast station on from 100's of miles away during the middle of the day. (when 8291khz or 12290khz would have been best)And, even further, they made NO mention of the USCG standing-by with a Voice radio watch on these GMDSS HF Voice frequencies, 4125, 6215, 8291, and 12290 (6215 and 8291 being 24 hrs/day, and 4125 at night, and 12290 during daylight, from NMN in Chesapeake, VA)And, worst of all they made NO mention of the GMDSS, nor of HF-DSC signaling for Distress, Urgency, and/or Safety. Nor, how a boat properly equipped should have a MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone installed, as it had been more than 10 years since the GMDSS had been implemented worldwide.
I brought these errors / oversights to their attention in a letter to the editor after the article was published, and I received no response from them, nor was my letter ever published...So, here I am attempting to provide you all with a wealth of information, as well as the insight from someone with more than 40 years of cruising / offshore sailing experience (in addition to my 40 years of experience in HF communications), so that Practical Sailor can provide accurate, provable, real-world information and advice to it readers, and perhaps save some lives in the process..}



3) Next, you wrote: "Operationally, the most obvious advantages of satellite phones is their ease of use, a result of our familiarity with cell phones.", and this, while for casual users, might be true only when considering making a voice phone call, this statement is very telling to those of us who understand the GMDSS and are seasoned radio users.
Yes, you can switch to the appropriate frequency/channel, grab the mic, and call WLO or KLB, and place a phone call that way, just fine. (I just did so, last week!)
But, can also call them via HF-DSC, and they will call you on the best/most appropriate frequency/channel, and place your phone call that way.

Even before talking about Distress signaling, you've missed the great advantage of DSC on HF frequencies, taking much of the layperson's "guess work" and anxiety out of making an HF radio call.
Although the importance of DSC signaling for Distress is what is commonly thought of (and is of course a vital part of the GMDSS), DSC signaling for other purposes also works well, and with a simple press of a few buttons you can call WLO/KLB, Brunei Bay Radio, etc. via DSC and have them calling you simultaneously on a couple channels or them calling you on the best/most appropriate channel.



4) While you do go on to accurately state: "Satphones cant provide ship-to-ship safety communications or communications with rescue vessels or aircraft."
You go on to disingenuously imply that that there are many others listening to the Marine SSB frequencies by stating: "An SSB radio allows for an unlimited number of people to listen in on a transmission. Other nearby commercial and recreational vessels that may be monitoring the airwaves could lend a hand or communicate directly with you to offer advice, act as relay, etc."
When in point-of-fact, it is only by MF/HF-DSC that you are going to be able to alert these other vessels that you do need assistance, rescue, etc. and then use SSB to speak directly with them.
But, unless you first signal them via MF/HF-DSC, they will NOT hear your SSB Voice calls.
(the exception here would be if you happen to call on the frequency of a "Cruiser's Net", while the net was in operation, or just by shear luck someone else happened to be monitoring that frequency waiting for the net, etc.)
Here again, the "idea" that an SSB radio "allows for an unlimited number of people to listen in on a transmission" is true, but the "whole truth" is:
a) SOLAS vessels are maintaining there radio watch on the MF/HF-DSC frequencies NOT on SSB Voice frequencies...(and it isn't just that they "could lend a hand", it is that they are REQUIRED to lend any assistance necessary under international agreement, the GMDSS....and while under the GMDSS operating guidelines, they would typically wait 3 minutes before responding to a DSC-Distress call, in order to see if a coast station and RCC were already responding, they would either then respond directly to the vessel in distress or they would be standing-by to render assistance/rescue as directed by the RCC, Rescue Coordination Center.)

b) Further, you can also send out DSC calls for "Urgency" or "Safety" (or even routine), should you require assistance of a non-emergency nature, such as need of weather or navigational information, re-supply of fresh water or food, medical information/advice, etc. etc.....and here again it is only with MF/HF-DSC signaling would these calls ever be heard...

c) Raising other recreational boats via "SSB radio" in the real world, is almost entirely done during on-air cruiser's nets, or by prearranged schedules...



5) Writing this: "An additional safety benefit is that some SSB models are equipped with Digital Selective Calling (DSC), which is part of the internationally adopted Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS)." When, for the last 10 years, all Marine HF transceivers sold in the US and EU have been required to be equipped with MF/HF-DSC, it is very misleading (and disingenuous) to write that "some" models are equipped with DSC...it is a bit like saying "some cars are equipped with airbags".

It appears to even the causal reader, that the author of this blog post is woeful uninformed about these subjects and if this is the person writing the Practical Sailor article (and would be advising the editors on these subjects), I think Practical Sailor's editors should make an extreme effort here to take seriously the information provided here, and to read the associated links provided, etc., if not PS will lose all credibility on these subjects, forever!




6) Further info and comment:
a) There was no mention that there are currently 100's of coast stations worldwide, in operation 24 hrs/day, maintaining a Maritime MF/HF-DSC radio watch (but NO voice radio watch).
There are 84 operational HF-DSC coast stations covering every part of the globe (Sea Areas A3 and A4) via the GMDSS HF-DSC frequencies....and there are about 450 operational MF-DSC coast stations covering the near-offshore waters (Sea Area A2) typically out to 150 miles or so, via the GMDSS MF-DSC freq.

b) There was no mention of what the USCG is currently monitoring, nor what they've been recommended for years....
DSC DISTRESS

c) There was little mention of MF/HF -DSC. (not surprising, as the importance of this is little understood)




7) Please read these pages and postings, and follow the links provided in them, for MUCH detail and information about:
- HF communications at sea.
- MF/HF-DSC.
- The GMDSS, how it is used, and how it relates to recreational boaters and offshore sailors.
- The importance of MF/HF-DSC signaling for offshore sailors.
- Detailed explanation of how the Icom M-802 actually works (despite the inaccuracies in its manual)
- Sat Phone comms at sea.
- The myth of the KISS-Ground.
- The advisability of equipping with Marine SSB.
- EPIRB's and how a MF/HF-DSC-SSB radio helps with EPIRB activations and improves rescue odds.


GMDSS Master Plan
http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pdf/marco...ss1_circ15.pdf

Call on DSC...
Call on HF DSC....maybe.

The 2012 survey by the WMO/jcomm Joint WMO-IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology....


KISS-SSB Counterpoise
SSCA Forum • View topic - KISS-SSB Counterpoise


Icom M-802 instruction videos and detailed explanations, mostly in LAYPERSON'S terms.
Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call

Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call
SSCA Forum • View topic - Icom M-802 Instr Videos(basic-adv) & LIVE DSC-Distress Call


EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds
SSCA Forum • View topic - EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds


USCG to Discontinue ONLY 2mhz Distress Watchkeeping 8-1-2013
SSCA Forum • View topic - USCG to Discontinue ONLY 2mhz Distress Watchkeeping 8-1-2013


Icom M-802 DSC-Distress Signaling, what really happens!
SSCA Forum • View topic - Icom M-802 DSC-Distress Signaling, what really happens!

Icom M-802 use on the Ham Radio Bands
SSCA Forum • View topic - Icom M-802 use on the Ham Radio Bands

HF Radio Freqs, summertime Atlantic crossing, offshore Net..
SSCA Forum • View topic - HF Radio Freqs, summertime Atlantic crossing, offshore Net..


And, finally 3 different, distinct postings that have a LOT of great factual information in them, detailing the vast differences between a "sat phone" and a "marine MF/HF-DSC-SSB transceiver"...
Please read all 3 of these posts..

Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works



Of course there is much more, but this should get you most of what you need.
Please contact me directly (by e-mail of phone) for further info and/or to discuss these subjects and how-to advise others about them.


Again, I do thank you all for all the many years of hard work, sorting through the maze of advertizing hype, etc. and providing sailors with some unbiased information and recommendations.
And, I hope my above words are not taken as unnecessary criticism, but rather as they are intended, as helpful information, counsel, and advice.


Sincerely,

They thought that another sailing publication will be ignoring, or glossing-over, MF/HF-DSC simply because the don't understand it, made me gringe!!
So, I may have gone a bit overboard in my first e-mail to them....but, at least now I've got one heck of a letter-to-the-editor that again probably won't get published....

In any case....I do hope that they will read all of my e-mail and most importantly the links provided....and maybe they'll actually publish a balanced, unbiased, factual article....and leave any editorializing/opinion for an editorial side-bar....
We can hope!!


Thanks again for the heads-up!


Fair winds..

John
s/v Annie Laurie
__________________
ka4wja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-06-2014, 18:21   #82
Nearly an old salt
 
goboatingnow's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 13,649
Images: 3
Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

john

Your views on DSC HF etc are well known and repeatedly outlined on CF.

However for leisure vessels not subject to the strictures of the GMDSS carriage requirements, never mind the redundancy of equipment rules, I would suggest a different approach

In my view any long distance offshore cruising boat should have

DSC VHF
Epirb

And one ( or more ) methods of long range comms , In that I would include
Sat phones
DSC marine HF
Inmarsat or mini C
Inreach or other forms of Leo sat text messaging
Fleetbroadband

I hesitate to include spot due to coverage issues and the lack of variable messaging

The requirement , you repeatedly state, to be able to broadcast DSC HF alerts is overstated. The fact is ANY method that gets a distress message to an MRCC will trigger a SAR response. MRCCs will then contact by any number of means, including HF all vessels that may assist in the rescue and will relay the progress to you by whatever means you have used to reach them.

It's entirely inappropriate to repeatedly stress the need to be able to contact other ships. Today , under GMDSS unlike the old SOLAS convention rules, ships will always co-ordinate with an MRCC before initiating a rescue attempt.

Hence whether you email, text, voice , mail a letter or whatever to an MRCC , they will respond appropriately.

If you want the social aspects of HF. That's different, then take the ham tests.

Obviously if one can afford multiple long range comms, then it makes sense to have a diverse range on board. But it is entirely appropriate for the budget conscious cruiser to consider the sat phone versus DSC HF trade off. Whether one decides on one or the other is of little relevance , as long as sone form of variable messaging long comms is carried.

Dave


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
__________________
Check out my new blog on smart boat technology, networking and gadgets for the connected sailor! - http://smartboats.tumblr.com
goboatingnow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-06-2014, 19:46   #83
Registered User
 
ka4wja's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Boat: Catalina 470
Posts: 2,033
Re: Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

Dave,
Yeah, I know I can get a bit "strident" sometimes..
And, I thought we agreed to accept each other's strident voices???


I agree with you and I made every effort I could think of to include as much information as possible regarding the importance of getting a distress alert to the RCC's on-shore...including mentioning all of the currently operational shore stations (both MF and HF), and mentioning the importance of an EPIRB being the important first choice.

If you read the linked PS piece, you'll see it was the author of the blog piece (NOT me), that mentioned getting your message to other vessels and "Good Samaritans"...and I was actually somewhat negating this concept.

But since I also included information about DSC-signaling other vessels being one criteria to use to determine WHICH "Marine SSB Radio" to actually equip your vessel with, you seem to be bringing up the same old arguments???

Perhaps my words were misunderstood???

This is/was my only point here regarding MF/HF-DSC....not "using it exclusively to signal other vessels", but rather using the capability of MF/HF-DSC to signal BOTH shore-side stations/MRCC's and other vessels, to be an important criteria in deciding WHICH Marine HF radio to buy/install on a cruising boat....and, of course mentioning that these are the only marine HF radios for sale here in the US for a decade...
(I'm not saying "sat phones are bad"....just trying to highlight that many who comment/write of SSB vs. sat phone, do not seem to mention DSC..)

I think it's obvious we have a difference of opinion here, on what might be useful information / criteria for sailors/cruisers to have at their disposal and use to make their decisions....
And, since everyone is entitled to their opinion and advise accordingly, I think we both are just as "correct"...
Yes???




Sorry don't have the time, nor inclination, to delve further tonight...
But, thanks for taking the time...

As I said earlier, perhaps my words were misunderstood??? and maybe we should just agree to not react to each other's strident opinions???


fair winds...

John
__________________
ka4wja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-06-2014, 20:35   #84
Registered User
 
Exile's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Land of Disenchantment
Boat: Bristol 47.7
Posts: 2,964
Re: Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Dan-
Before you start paving the deck, check out www.solarstik.com for their marine product. It is damned expensive, but if you've had any custom metal fabrication done, that's just the way it goes.
Their basic concept is to mount the panels on a pole that can be installed in the rear corner of your cockpit, or outboard on the transom. That gets them clear of the entire boat.
Pros and cons of the solarstik, or a DIY similar, sure. But it is an option to "pavement" and arches. (I've always thought dodgers and straightjackets had a lot in common.)
"Paving the deck." Have not heard that one yet but it fits, especially since I'm also not wild about affixing flexible panels to the decks for a number of reasons. Yes, the Solarstik option does surmount some placement issues, and I've been referred to it before (probably by you, thanks ). The website indicates it may be limited to two 50w panels, and that would be a lot of money for the wattage, unless the wind gen was also installed (more money). Like arches & davits, I'm not wild about a big pole on the back of the boat, but much of that is admittedly personal preference. I'm sure they can be installed securely.

It's been said a million times, but everything on a boat is a compromise, and I just happen to have strong personal preferences when it comes to uncluttered decks and clear views of the sails. Like John, however, we used to keep our boat down in S. Fla., and it would have been hard to be without the bimini down there! The good news for me is that costs seem to be going down, and the technology continues to improve. I just noticed, for e.g., that Watt&Sea is now offering a hydro gen for cruisers that is about half the price of what it was a year or so ago. By the time I'm ready to cruise full-time, the answer might be a Watt&Sea while underway and a portable solar panel that I can hang over the boom at anchor.

Back on topic, I thought the last exchange comparing HF radio and satellite based technologies for long-distance cruisers was quite useful, at least from a relative newcomer's perspective. Certainly much more in-depth & informative than the blog from PS!

Dan
__________________
Exile is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 04-06-2014, 20:44   #85
Nearly an old salt
 
goboatingnow's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 13,649
Images: 3
Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

I agree John, especially your focus on DSC HF , in the marine space I would argue there little point in buying non DSC equipment

My main point is that sat phones and DSC HF as far as cruisers are concerned ARE complementary but also alternative. Both provide "sufficient " distress alerting capability,

Optimum , no , of course not, optimum is having several disparate solutions

Both systems need backing up with an EPIRB.

Hence the argument , anytime the opinion seems to favour sat phones , boils out proclaiming DSC HF is better suited or whatever, when in reality a cruiser equipped with either a sat phone or DSC HF is infinitely better then one with no long range comms.

Mine is not a strident position, all I point out is that sat phone AND/OR DSC HF backed up in both cases with an Epirb provides a good practical solution for long range alerting and comms.

Dave


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
__________________
Check out my new blog on smart boat technology, networking and gadgets for the connected sailor! - http://smartboats.tumblr.com
goboatingnow is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2014, 10:15   #86
Registered User
 
ka4wja's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Boat: Catalina 470
Posts: 2,033
Re: Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

Dan,
1) Although it has nothing to do with sat phones and SSB...
I also hate the looks of arches (and even davits look a bit odd to me, on a sailboat), so we have some of the same tastes....
And, yes....everything is a compromise!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Exile View Post
Like arches & davits, I'm not wild about a big pole on the back of the boat, but much of that is admittedly personal preference.

It's been said a million times, but everything on a boat is a compromise, and I just happen to have strong personal preferences when it comes to uncluttered decks and clear views of the sails. Like John, however, we used to keep our boat down in S. Fla., and it would have been hard to be without the bimini down there!
And, I agree with the uncluttered decks, etc.
But, just to add a bit of context to my desire for shade (in addition to the reduced heat), my skin is only slightly darker shade than the background of the message box I'm typing in....and my eyes are about the same color as the light blue border around the message box....and my strawberry-blonde hair....and growing up cruising the Bahamas and Caribbean in the 1960's, always on the water somewhere....(yeah, we used what passed for sun protection back then....hats, shirts, "Coppertone", etc. but nothing like I use now)
So, I've had all the sun exposure I care to....
And, whether I've got solar panels above the bimini or not, I can stick my head out from under it, for a couple seconds and see my mainsail if needed...

I think we can all agree this is mostly about personal preference...

BTW, you may like these photos, showing one way I keep my cockpit clear of "clutter", by having a "fold-down" chartplotter/MFD housing...
When offshore, I don't use the plotter of course (except on the rare occasion I need radar)....and certainly while daysailing / island-hoping in the Bahamas, I don't use it either....and when at anchor, etc. it's nice to NOT have this big "thing" in the way...
But, when I need it and/or radar, it is nice to have this big bright, sunlight viewable 12" display right there where I want it...
E120/Cockpit





2) As for solar costs....
Yeah, prices have come down a LOT...
But, I'm not betting on them going much lower....not just because of price points being reached, and profits being narrowed, but also because of the US (and EU) complaining about China's unfair trade practices and gov't subsidies to these industries....
So, my advice would be to plan your solar array's budget on today's pricing, and if prices do go lower, you're an even happier camper!!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Exile View Post
I just noticed, for e.g., that Watt&Sea is now offering a hydro gen for cruisers that is about half the price of what it was a year or so ago. By the time I'm ready to cruise full-time, the answer might be a Watt&Sea while underway and a portable solar panel that I can hang over the boom at anchor.
As for a water-generator....yes, the do work and do produce ample power....but they are only practical on longer passages, and in deep water....(you'd NOT be able to use a towed water gen sailing over the Bahamas Banks)
Of course they only work when underway, and then are usually only deployed when on a passage in deep water...
So, when add up how many days per year that you'd be using it....many find them to not be an economical way to generate power ($$$ per watts generated each year)...

To be clear I have a Hamilton Ferris WP-200, and it has worked well for me....but I only use it on long passages (a couple days to a couple weeks long), and then only deploy it if it's cloudy/overcast (or expected to be for a few days)....
But, my solar array works EVERY day, even when it's cloudy, it still outputs something!!

So, just a heads-up on the water gen....great for long passages, but solar is a better option 95% of the time....



Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
__________________
ka4wja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2014, 10:31   #87
Registered User
 
ka4wja's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Boat: Catalina 470
Posts: 2,033
Re: Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

Dan et al,
Just some news on this front...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Exile View Post
Back on topic, I thought the last exchange comparing HF radio and satellite based technologies for long-distance cruisers was quite useful, at least from a relative newcomer's perspective. Certainly much more in-depth & informative than the blog from PS!
I'm happy to report that I got a nice reply from the editor of Practical Sailor, to my rather long-winded e-mail....

And although polite, it does have that typical journalist "ring", implying that they already know everything that I wrote...and then dropping in the further reference to having a retired USCG officer being the primary contributor (implying that "we have a qualified person writing this, so how can you possibly contribute anything of value"), I'm not holding my breath that PS will actually delve deeply into the subject at all...

But, as long as they mention the GMDSS, and MF/HF-DSC signaling being a criteria to deciding which Marine SSB radio to buy/install...I'll be reasonably happy!!



Here's the reponse I received...

Quote:
Thanks for your input John,

I'm glad the post inspired you to respond.
These look like excellent comments for the blog. It looks like you really misinterpreted the blog post, since the opinions you express are no different from my own and the primary contributor to this piece, former Coast Guard officer Frank Lanier. However, I would strongly encourage you to chime in in the comments section.

Our test will be covering most of the items you address. I'm forwarding it to our tester Frank Lanier.

Thanks,


Darrell



So, now I'm weighing whether to post my message in their "comments" section??



fair winds..

John
s/v Annie Laurie
__________________
ka4wja is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2014, 16:02   #88
Registered User
 
Exile's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Land of Disenchantment
Boat: Bristol 47.7
Posts: 2,964
Re: Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Dan,
1) Although it has nothing to do with sat phones and SSB...
I also hate the looks of arches (and even davits look a bit odd to me, on a sailboat), so we have some of the same tastes....
And, yes....everything is a compromise! And, I agree with the uncluttered decks, etc.
But, just to add a bit of context to my desire for shade (in addition to the reduced heat), my skin is only slightly darker shade than the background of the message box I'm typing in....and my eyes are about the same color as the light blue border around the message box....and my strawberry-blonde hair....and growing up cruising the Bahamas and Caribbean in the 1960's, always on the water somewhere....(yeah, we used what passed for sun protection back then....hats, shirts, "Coppertone", etc. but nothing like I use now)
So, I've had all the sun exposure I care to....
And, whether I've got solar panels above the bimini or not, I can stick my head out from under it, for a couple seconds and see my mainsail if needed...

I think we can all agree this is mostly about personal preference...

BTW, you may like these photos, showing one way I keep my cockpit clear of "clutter", by having a "fold-down" chartplotter/MFD housing...
When offshore, I don't use the plotter of course (except on the rare occasion I need radar)....and certainly while daysailing / island-hoping in the Bahamas, I don't use it either....and when at anchor, etc. it's nice to NOT have this big "thing" in the way...
But, when I need it and/or radar, it is nice to have this big bright, sunlight viewable 12" display right there where I want it...
E120/Cockpit





2) As for solar costs....
Yeah, prices have come down a LOT...
But, I'm not betting on them going much lower....not just because of price points being reached, and profits being narrowed, but also because of the US (and EU) complaining about China's unfair trade practices and gov't subsidies to these industries....
So, my advice would be to plan your solar array's budget on today's pricing, and if prices do go lower, you're an even happier camper!! As for a water-generator....yes, the do work and do produce ample power....but they are only practical on longer passages, and in deep water....(you'd NOT be able to use a towed water gen sailing over the Bahamas Banks)
Of course they only work when underway, and then are usually only deployed when on a passage in deep water...
So, when add up how many days per year that you'd be using it....many find them to not be an economical way to generate power ($$$ per watts generated each year)...

To be clear I have a Hamilton Ferris WP-200, and it has worked well for me....but I only use it on long passages (a couple days to a couple weeks long), and then only deploy it if it's cloudy/overcast (or expected to be for a few days)....
But, my solar array works EVERY day, even when it's cloudy, it still outputs something!!

So, just a heads-up on the water gen....great for long passages, but solar is a better option 95% of the time....



Fair winds...

John
s/v Annie Laurie
Definitely simpatico with you on the bimini, John. I'm actually a native of S. Fla. myself, and some sort of shading down there quickly becomes a necessity, even for those not as fair-skinned as you! My boat is up on the Chesapeake now, and that's hardly any better in the summer months. In fact, I think the heat & humidity is actually worse. And yes, skin cancer vs. having to peak out behind a bimini is one of those boat compromises we can all "live" with, right?!

I checked out the description & pics of how you reinforced your bimini for your panel array, and it certainly seems you wouldn't have to worry about a failure in a big blow. I do like the idea of being able to fold mine down relatively quickly to reduce windage, but I have yet to have to do this while away from the dock so perhaps my concerns are overblown. I'm just one of those guys on the boat with his head always looking up at the sails, and always fiddling with their trim, of course. And for some reason I always get more enjoyment from sailing out in the open (I always wear a big hat), especially if I am singlehanding or short-handed. Purely personal, and potentially subject to changing priorities as my offshore experience increases.

I'm also with you generally on solar vs. the alternatives, although the Watt&Sea hydro gens have caught my attention. What I like is that, unlike traditional hydros, the unit is self-contained & attached to a bracket on the transom, the prop/impeller can be easily levered out of the water when not in use, and the entire unit can be pulled completely out of its bracket & stowed when in port, etc. The prop/impeller sits behind a housing and thus has some protection from getting smacked. I also don't know why it couldn't be used when coastal sailing or crossing the Bahama banks, for example, since there's nothing trailing behind the boat and the prop only sits a foot or less in the water & thus well above the rudder & keel. It also comes with a high-quality MPPT converter with an extra set of ports for a solar array.

Watt & Sea Hydrogenerators - Bruce Schwab Energy Systems

Having said that, your solar set-up (and lack of moving parts) would still be my first choice if I had the real estate, or should I say was more willing to compromise. Speaking of which, do you also have a generator, or do you rely on your engine alternators for backup? (rarely needed I'm sure). More off-topic wandering here, but given your similarly-sized boat, I was curious if you had any backup for your auto-pilot. I remember reading where you had an AP malfunction on one of your Atlantic crossings and you & your crew had to hand-steer for awhile. I have an excellent, below-decks AP which has never disappointed, but have been researching ad nauseum what options I may have for backup self-steering for my 20-ton, center cockpit boat. I have a couple of good prospects, but would be curious if you've also written about this.

Thanks,
Dan
__________________
Exile is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2014, 17:54   #89
Registered User
 
Exile's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Land of Disenchantment
Boat: Bristol 47.7
Posts: 2,964
Re: Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Dan et al,
Just some news on this front...
I'm happy to report that I got a nice reply from the editor of Practical Sailor, to my rather long-winded e-mail....

And although polite, it does have that typical journalist "ring", implying that they already know everything that I wrote...and then dropping in the further reference to having a retired USCG officer being the primary contributor (implying that "we have a qualified person writing this, so how can you possibly contribute anything of value"), I'm not holding my breath that PS will actually delve deeply into the subject at all...

But, as long as they mention the GMDSS, and MF/HF-DSC signaling being a criteria to deciding which Marine SSB radio to buy/install...I'll be reasonably happy!!



Here's the reponse I received...






So, now I'm weighing whether to post my message in their "comments" section??



fair winds..

John
s/v Annie Laurie
Given their prompt reply, I'd say you got their attention John. If nothing else, I wouldn't be surprised if their upcoming article was more thoroughly researched, and consequently (and hopefully) more fairly balanced.

The title of at least the blog article -- "Is Single-sideband Radio Still Relevant? -- struck me as rather biased, even though they answer that question as "Yes, absolutely" early on. Maybe something more like "Single-sideband Radio vs. Satellite Phones: Complementary or Unnecessarily Redundant?" would be more appropriate.

Should you choose to comment, I might try and tailor your comments to people more like me, i.e. relative noobs who are instinctively attracted to the simplicity of having a phone onboard, but also aren't schooled on the safety benefits of DSC and are initially turned off by the expense and ramp-up time needed to learn all the additional benefits of a HF radio. These are the potential consumers that PS seems to be trying to reach in any event.

On the safety front, you might emphasize what I found rather compelling, namely that it's not only CG shore stations who are monitoring the DSC distress frequencies (except for 2mhz), but also big shipping who can often be much closer to your boat than sailors may realize. As we've unfortunately read about all too often lately, it takes quite a bit of time for the CG to verify even multiple EPIRB or PLB signals, and then deploy their own resources or implement the AMVER system to get a ship re-routed to the distress location.

For newcomers, you may also want to highlight the radio's many other capabilities beyond pure emergencies which a satphone lacks, for ex. the ability to make less expensive ship to shore phone calls, access to (free) weather resources, participation in nets with multiple boats, and the ability to get news, etc. thousands of miles offshore.

PS indicates in its blog article that it is trying to reach those newcomers who are deciding which type of long-distance communications device(s) to outfit their boats with. As Dave recently pointed out, this age of instant communication means that just about any sort of successful contact will likely produce a response to an emergency at sea, and a satphone can certainly accomplish this, perhaps even with greater ease. I just don't think many people realize (I didn't) that HF radio also offers this feature, but also a lot more.

Based on my limited knowledge thus far, I'd say the article should conclude that radios & satphones complement each other, and are also redundant to an extent. But this is the sort of positive vs. wasteful redundancy that is important & beneficial in long-distance cruising boats, assuming one can afford it of course.

Just $.02 from a newcomer to these technologies . . . .

Dan
__________________
Exile is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-06-2014, 18:02   #90
֍֎֍֎֍֎֍֎֍֎

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 13,056
Re: Advisability of Depending on Satellite Comms & Knowing the Transmitter Works

Dan-
The solarstik may support more wattage, you'd need to call them to find out. They're small enough to accommodate individual requests. Expensive, absolutely, but not out of line for that kind of metalwork. (Unfortunately!(G)

On prices of solar panels...PANIC. NOW. Congress has just made some noises about a probable 30% tariff on Chinese solar cells and panels because of Chinese government subsidized dumping on their prices, so we can all expect to see the cheap Chinese panels go up fully 1/3 in price in the immediate future, once the tariff is applied or in anticipation of it.
__________________

__________________
hellosailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
satellite

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
All Knowing Board ... Boat Ramps in Pensacola capn_billl General Sailing Forum 4 04-03-2012 09:31
Does cutless bearing life vary depending on initial rubber thickness? jaffadog Construction, Maintenance & Refit 13 26-01-2012 07:12
Cost-Effective Sat Comms ? atoll Marine Electronics 20 16-03-2011 18:53
Great Site for Links to GPS Interface / Comms / Plotter Problems million440 OpenCPN 0 08-09-2010 00:02
Knowing Your Boat's Limitations . . . otherthan Monohull Sailboats 13 07-07-2010 05:45



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:24.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.