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Old 29-03-2008, 10:35   #1
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Best Options for Internet / Email & Phone Communication While Sailing ?

What are the best options for keeping in touch with the world, friends, and family while sailing, especially the internet, email, and phone (cell or sat) both in cruising areas (west coast and caribbean) and offshore? Can you actually get high speed satellite internet access to surf the web or are you limited to slow email options? What about the cost?
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Old 31-03-2008, 12:25   #2
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check into skymate as an option. good email and weather , but not web access, reliable just about everywhere
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Old 31-03-2008, 13:18   #3
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Full internet access at sea or outside of wifi areas requires a KVH type dome solution which is like $5k for the hardware and then access is billed on a per megabyte of data basis...VERY expensive!!!
Text Email only at sea can be achieved with a pactor modem (1K) hooked into your SSB and sailmail access ($250/yr).
...or via sat phone data...also pretty expensive.
Most cruisers wait till they hit port to access the net and wifi is now widely available in the Caribe and the US coasts. Cyber cafes are everywhere as well.
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Old 31-03-2008, 15:30   #4
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A Ham license (not sure which level) will permit you to send non-commercial email.

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Old 31-03-2008, 15:50   #5
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I think the 'best options" depend on how much you want to spend. Do you have a budget?

A friend of mine uses his sat phone to download and send emails on a daily basis. It only takes a few minutes. There is enough bandwidth to do text only emails.
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Old 31-03-2008, 17:39   #6
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I just recieved an AT&T "wireless card" for my laptop that includes "International coverage" which is anyplace there is cell-phone coverage..........

so cruising around the Carribbean I'm sure there are "dead" spots, just like in the U.S., but I was told by AT&T there is cell coverage on a majority of the islands.

I pay $45.00/mo unlimited for this card, it's the only way I use my laptop......
International RATES may apply, of course.

But otherwise, I'm very happy with the service AND download speeds thru this card.
Just another option to consider..... International cell-coverage is increasing everyday around the world to be more compatible with all services.
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Old 31-03-2008, 21:55   #7
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google "GMN X-Gate" for good satphone email service about the same annual cost as Sailmail, has good compression and filtering capabilities, being used alot by commercial guys
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Old 03-04-2008, 17:05   #8
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Skymate uses the ORBCOMM galaxy of satellite and it's limited. You can send 2,000 character e-mails if the satellite you're communicating with at the time has a direct view of both you and a land station. If it doesn't, then it has to "store and forward" 'and the length of the message it will send drops to 200 characters, or about 2 1/2 lines of text. You also can't send attachments with Skymate e-mail.

ORBCOMM has a huge hole in coverage in the South Pacific, though. But aside from that, and a hole in the Indian Ocean around Madagascar, the coverage is there. I hear from friends that it works well in the Caribbean and in the North Atlantic. Tim Kent used it in the 2002 Around Alone and apparently it worked well for him. If you buy their biggest monthly subscription (you pay by the character) you can get NOAA weather charts once a week. Each chart is about 6000 characters, so that will blow out their lowest priced monthly service, with is 8000 characters a month.
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Old 16-06-2010, 01:08   #9
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I know this thread is a few years old - but hopefully I can wake it up again - we're getting ready to go. We've never used internet whilst cruising before. We have a Thuraya phone (no line) which we simply use with a SIM card with an international line for emergency calls and daily contact via SMS. When we leave the Arabian Gulf we could keep that line - but are there any cheaper options, and is it any easier nowadays to get internet?? My searches are all coming back with hardware options or airtime packages which seem to be just for calls and SMS; but not internet....
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Old 16-06-2010, 06:09   #10
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There are actually a zillion other threads about it
Sometimes I find the google custom search doesnt work very well, so its understandable not to find the threads.

We use a USB modem and have broadband intoernet in every country and Skype as a phone system.

With an unlocked (or Vodaphone) USB modem you just buy a new sim card in each new country. Its cheap, easy and fast



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Old 16-06-2010, 06:44   #11
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USB Modem

'Goodday Mark,
My son uses this in the UK. Will it work in the Bahamas and the Caribbean ? Do you then purchase hour time? If so how fast does this get used up ? What is it costing you per month in the Med at the moment ?
Regards,
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Old 16-06-2010, 07:27   #12
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'Goodday Mark,
What is it costing you per month in the Med at the moment ?
Regards,
Clyde
Hi Clyde,

I don't know if it works in the Bahamas, or the Caribbean. I nwould expect it would. Its 3G so it works whereever they have mobile (cell) phones.

The cost is every country is different but we can aproximate it to US$25 to $35 per month for enough broadband to be useful. Sometimes download capped, or sometimes speed capped.

Count my posts over the last 18 months -scary- they have all been made via this method.




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Old 16-06-2010, 07:36   #13
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Thanks

Definitely cheaper than SSB/Pactor. Can live with no contact between islands. You will have no contact across the Atlantic I presume. If all goes according to plan see you in the Caribbean next year.
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Old 16-06-2010, 07:45   #14
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You will have no contact across the Atlantic I presume.
Yes, the forum has decided it needs abreak form me for at least a transt atlantic.

Anyway, we don't need long range coms for a passage like that
If VHF and EPIRB can't handle it then we are stuffed anyway *touch wood*


Quote:
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If all goes according to plan see you in the Caribbean next year.
Clyde
Yes, see you there at Christmas.
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Old 16-06-2010, 08:48   #15
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International rates on those data cards - Verizon, ATT, etc could be 2/min. We use Globalstar for text email while in transit to the Caribbean and back. They are supposed to put up new satellites this Summer. Amazons Kindle has gone international and many foreign countries now allow you to access their cell phone connection for free. Kindle does have a internet browser (experimental). Havn't tried it, but, you maybe able to get email this way for free in foreign countries.
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