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Old 11-05-2010, 17:13   #1
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Communication on Ocean Crossing

Hi!

Does anyone have an idea about what is the best and/ or cheapest way to communicate with land based people while I'm on an ocean passage?
I have a sat phone and a laptop onboard together with the rest of nav equipments. I wondered in what way e-mail through the sat phone could do, but then someone told me that it's very slow and thereby very expensive.
And if using e-mail, what program then.
Any tip could be useful.

Rolf D on Theresa Marie from Florida to Sweden
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Old 11-05-2010, 18:00   #2
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If you have SSB radio the answer is use that. Many cruisers use nothing else. See YachtCom - SSB Email | SailMail | Winlink | AirMail | Shortwave radio email

There are other providers out there.

P.
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Old 11-05-2010, 18:45   #3
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Telegrams used to be expensive also. So you learn that if you are sending emails over a satellite phone, you use PLAIN TEXT not HTML and you make sure that any replies being sent to you will also be sent by plain text, which is typical 1/5th the size of a "rich" formatted email.

If you don't want to do the learning curve with SSB or ham radio (both of which will be equally slow with email) then a satphone and sending short messages is probably the best bet.
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Old 11-05-2010, 22:30   #4
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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Telegrams used to be expensive also. So you learn that if you are sending emails over a satellite phone, you use PLAIN TEXT not HTML and you make sure that any replies being sent to you will also be sent by plain text, which is typical 1/5th the size of a "rich" formatted email.

If you don't want to do the learning curve with SSB or ham radio (both of which will be equally slow with email) then a satphone and sending short messages is probably the best bet.
You then mean just like SMS on a cell phone?
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Old 12-05-2010, 04:39   #5
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Yes, you can certainly send an SMS (text) message from a Satphone to any mobile phone in the world, but the mobile phone won't be able to reply by text.
In order to reply for free, they can go to the Iridium website where you can send so many characters without charge.
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Old 12-05-2010, 10:18   #6
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SMS on my Sat phone is 50 cents. As oldvarnish says, most companies seem to have a free SMS service for computer based folks to SMS the sat phones.

But I have found it quite unreliable. We missed heaps when at sea, so if its importnat I make my sister SMS via a phone and pay for it

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Old 12-05-2010, 10:25   #7
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Mark, is the 50 cents Aussie or American money?

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Old 12-05-2010, 10:59   #8
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Mark, is the 50 cents Aussie or American money?

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50c USD (55c Aussie)

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Old 12-05-2010, 11:05   #9
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"You then mean just like SMS on a cell phone? " You're dating yourself, the cellcos prefer to say "text messaging" these days. (G)

Yes, SMS just means a "short message service" which was limited to the empty space available in one data packet on the cellular control channel. 256 bits, less overhead, leaving about 160 bits available for a message. SMS messages wre originally always routed through an email server, so SMS was just 'email from a cell phone' but these days, it apparently *always* gets routed as data and charged to a data plan.
No matter what they call it or how they bill it...yes it is email, and if you keep it short the price isn't all bad, bearing in mind that cellular calls used to be well over a dollar a minute and long distance and high seas radio could easily go $4-5/minute.

As MarkJ says--it can be unreliable. Always ask for a confirmation reply if you are expecting someone to act on the message. Remember, even cellular text messaging can be delayed 2-4 DAYS or lost entirely within one cellular provider.
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Old 13-05-2010, 11:15   #10
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email via a saphone works fine, I used my Iridum unit crossing the Atlantic. Keep the emails small and format them as plain text.

it works
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Old 13-05-2010, 12:40   #11
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email via a saphone works fine, I used my Iridum unit crossing the Atlantic. Keep the emails small and format them as plain text.

it works
Did you just use your phone as a modem? Is there a CD or something that comes with the phone to load some software on?
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Old 13-05-2010, 12:54   #12
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yes , I have a 9500, flashed with the new software, its works like a slow modem connected via a serial to USB, we used Outlook express as a client. You can subscribe to a specialised mail service like mailasail etc which helps

Note theres no specific software once the phone supports the Iridium Data service. standard windows software is all thats used.

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Old 13-05-2010, 13:38   #13
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That's great Dave, thanks for the info. I think we're going to make do with:

- mast head VHF
- handheld VHF (also goes into the ditch bag)
- sat phone (also goes into the ditch bag)
- netbooks. when in wireless range we'll use that, and for important stuff we'll use the sat phone's data plan.
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Old 13-05-2010, 15:43   #14
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SkyMate.
Iridium.
Globalstar.
The new phone from Inmarsat will probably top the list once available later this year.

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Old 13-05-2010, 16:06   #15
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Yeah, thats if you can get a price plan thats works, everything seems expensive in the end from Inmarsat
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