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Old 06-09-2018, 04:21   #1
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Backup For Iridium

I used an Iridium Go! For our trip to Greenland this summer, and was generally extremely pleased with it. It gives a very low bandwidth but quite reliable connection which made it possible to get all necessary weather and ice information and even to carry on more or less normal email communications. It was great, actually.


HOWEVER, we did lose it for a few days -- leaving the Faroes on the way home, I wrote to the SatPhoneStore, where I bought the equipment, and asked them to switch off the service as of the end of the billing cycle. The nice young Indian fellow in the SatPhoneStore call center who handled this request did not read it carefully, and switched it off immediately -- after we were already at sea and with no other means to inform them of their mistake. So we were without comms until we got within mobile phone range of the Orkney Islands to get off a message to ask to solve the error.


This drives home the point that a sat phone is subject to be switched off for one reason or another, including by accident. Remember the Rebel Heart disaster? It is in the nature of the subscription model.


Therefore I will not be relying any more on Iridium as my sole long distance communications means. I have HF radio and it simply wasn't working this summer -- the antenna system is all apart and I didn't have time to put it back together.


I will use Iridium again for sure, but I will be very sure to have the HF radio set + Pactor working and operational. HF radio is useful for other things, as well -- Iridium is only point to point communications, so no nets, no all ships calls, and indeed no communications at all if the subscription is deactivated for any reason whatsoever, including a simple mistake, like in this case.
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Old 16-09-2018, 22:58   #2
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Re: Backup For Iridium

Would you recommend us transferring our SSB radio onto our 62 which has the antenna and is already to go, it’s only missing the radio? I can’t see a use for it in the Med.
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Old 17-09-2018, 00:11   #3
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Re: Backup For Iridium

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Would you recommend us transferring our SSB radio onto our 62 which has the antenna and is already to go, it’s only missing the radio? I can’t see a use for it in the Med.

Yes, in the Med you are unlikely to use it much, but why would you not want to have one on board if you already have one? You won't leave the boat in the Med forever, will you? SSB radio has a lot of different uses.
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Old 17-09-2018, 01:59   #4
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Re: Backup For Iridium

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Yes, in the Med you are unlikely to use it much, but why would you not want to have one on board if you already have one? You won't leave the boat in the Med forever, will you? SSB radio has a lot of different uses.
The 53 which has an SSB is located in the Med, the 62 is in Maine until next May when we’ll sail it to the Med.
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Old 17-09-2018, 02:39   #5
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Re: Backup For Iridium

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The 53 which has an SSB is located in the Med, the 62 is in Maine until next May when we’ll sail it to the Med.

OK, so you've got a whole Atlantic crossing to do. I would want the SSB just for that by itself.
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Old 17-09-2018, 03:13   #6
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Re: Backup For Iridium

Our Atlantic crossing derailed last month at the last second.
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Old 25-10-2018, 03:07   #7
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Re: Backup For Iridium

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post

HOWEVER, we did lose it for a few days -- leaving the Faroes on the way home, I wrote to the SatPhoneStore, where I bought the equipment, and asked them to switch off the service as of the end of the billing cycle. The nice young Indian fellow in the SatPhoneStore call center who handled this request did not read it carefully, and switched it off immediately -- after we were already at sea and with no other means to inform them of their mistake. So we were without comms until we got within mobile phone range of the Orkney Islands to get off a message to ask to solve the error.


This drives home the point that a sat phone is subject to be switched off for one reason or another, including by accident. Remember the Rebel Heart disaster? It is in the nature of the subscription model.


Therefore I will not be relying any more on Iridium as my sole long distance communications means. I have HF radio and it simply wasn't working this summer -- the antenna system is all apart and I didn't have time to put it back together.
We too are big fans of redundancy while cruising far from support. We recently found out that the Satphonestore cancelled our Iridium Emergency plan in June. It is for the satphone handheld that lives in our ditch bag and is only for emergencies (we have a Go and a HF/Pactor as our main comms). I tested it in early June before leaving New Zealand and then last week getting ready to go to the Marshall Islands. I received a sim card error and then found out about the cancellation once I tracked down a real person at the store. Apparently they sent out an email in March but we did not get it on either of the two accounts they have one file for us (including our Sailmail account we use with the Go or SSB.) They do manage to send us bills to the two accounts monthly though.

I wrote a blog post about our dramas in case others are assuming their plan is still good (noting that this was not the normal plan but rather a less expensive per year account with very high per minute costs i.e. only for emergencies): https://sv-fluenta.blogspot.com/2018...ency-plan.html

Scary that the airtime providers do not seem to understand how safety critical these systems are. Nothing learned I suspect from the Rebel Heart drama. We were in Mexico with Rebel Heart and started our Pacific crossing a few weeks after the loss of their boat (also with a young child onboard).

Hopefully our replacement sim card arrives before we need to head north to avoid cyclone season. Not too hopeful now that I have found out that rather than shipping the card by courier like they said they would, they have merely mailed it to us in Fiji.
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Old 29-10-2018, 00:16   #8
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Re: Backup For Iridium

I use the Go as my primary and its been good. I keep a several un activated pre paid and postpaid sim cards with me on the boat.

Last year. I purchased a used 9575 phone from a cruiser and keep minimal prepaid minutes on it as a backup.

I like my SSB and i play around don it to kill time but as a means of communicating fro email and weather im am all iridium


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Old 29-10-2018, 01:14   #9
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Re: Backup For Iridium

they switched us off immediately as well when sending request for cancellation for last day of month although we already paid till end of month.

So you can safely assume it will happen again.

i think it is something to do with regulatory fee you pay on top of other iridium fees.
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Old 29-10-2018, 15:22   #10
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Re: Backup For Iridium

It has nothing to do with regulatory fees. It is simply an issue with a reseller who doesn't understand their customers needs and doesn't read requests carefully before making changes. One of the things that we (my wife and I are cruisers and Iridium resellers, among other things) try hard to do, that is to understand our customers, where they are going, what they are doing, and ensuring that they are getting the services they expect.

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they switched us off immediately as well when sending request for cancellation for last day of month although we already paid till end of month.

So you can safely assume it will happen again.

i think it is something to do with regulatory fee you pay on top of other iridium fees.
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Old 29-10-2018, 16:05   #11
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Re: Backup For Iridium

No need to go the SSB route unless you really want it. For our upcoming Atlantic crossing we have one Iridium Go and two Iridium Inreach messengers. Do all provisioning online, double check, have it under different users to reduce chance of typos. This is as good as it gets. You can even carry the Inreach on your body and use it as a beacon if you fall overboard.
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Old 29-10-2018, 18:58   #12
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Re: Backup For Iridium

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No need to go the SSB route unless you really want it. For our upcoming Atlantic crossing we have one Iridium Go and two Iridium Inreach messengers. Do all provisioning online, double check, have it under different users to reduce chance of typos. This is as good as it gets. You can even carry the Inreach on your body and use it as a beacon if you fall overboard.
I hope it all works well. I though I had lots of redundancy with two Iridium devices but now we are down to the SSB as the battery has burst on the Go and our airtime “provider” cancelled our SIM card without telling us. We might get replacements shipped out in time but can not afford the risk of staying too long in Fiji as cyclone season kicks in.

I am moving my Iridium Go service to PredictWind as I will be ill if ever have to talk to the Satphonestore again. The Satphones store still owes me some credit so I am stuck having my handheld air time with them for a little while longer.
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Old 29-10-2018, 19:10   #13
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Re: Backup For Iridium

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Originally Posted by svmobert View Post
It has nothing to do with regulatory fees. It is simply an issue with a reseller who doesn't understand their customers needs and doesn't read requests carefully before making changes. One of the things that we (my wife and I are cruisers and Iridium resellers, among other things) try hard to do, that is to understand our customers, where they are going, what they are doing, and ensuring that they are getting the services they expect.
It would be awesome to have a provider that understands how important these links are and our logistical challenges. I am still too pissed off from the new issues with our so called provider today to write about it yet. Maybe when I can write without expletives I will document the poor customer service.
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