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Old 01-12-2015, 07:18   #31
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ka4wja's Avatar

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Boat: Catalina 470
Posts: 2,265
Re: Delorme inReach SE Satellite Communicator

As you've seen the InReach is good product and has excellent service....and if you desire SMS/Texts, etc. when offshore and in far remote locales, it is a great choice...

I do have some information / clarification for your consideration regarding "SSB"....
Originally Posted by crazyoldboatguy View Post
Still on the fence about SSB. I know, high initial cost and free afterward - local contacts from various "nets". I know the advantages. I also know the cost. The redundancy factor plays a part, too. Good to have back-ups.
In full disclosure, everyone here knows I'm a big proponent of "SSB" (MF/HF-DSC-SSB-Radiotelephones), but rest assured I'm not posting this to campaign for "SSB"...
Rather, just wish to point out an unfortunate oversight (slight misunderstanding?) of how "SSB" compares to "sat comm" systems..

"SSB" systems are "broadcast systems", in that they go everywhere / your signal or message is sent everywhere...and everyone else's signal gets to you...

"Sat Comm" systems (and PACTOR modems) are "point-to-point systems", in that your signal/message goes to just one person or entity...and, of course, only to those who you know what their "address" is....and only those who know your "address" can send anything to you....

You see, they are complimentary to each other....they do NOT compete with each other at all...
They do two completely different things, in two completely different ways, and provide two completely different types of services...
And, most (even in 2016) would still consider a MF/HF-DSC-SSB-Radiotelephone ("SSB") to be an essential part of any offshore sailors kit...

The real comparison or "choice" is between PACTOR modems and Sat Comm devices....

{And, to reemphasize the fact that since the 1990's "SSB" isn't just "SSB" is DSC....lest we forget that since the implementation of the GMDSS in 1992, and it being required by all signatory nations and all SOLAS vessels since Jan 1, 1999, that the only way to signal other vessels at sea (or the many hundreds of coast stations) is with DSC....
And, once beyond the range of our VHF-DSC radios, this becomes the prevue of MF/HF-DSC radios....where initial contact is made (with > 80 HF-DSC coast stations, > 450 MF-DSC coast stations, and 1000's of commercial vessels at sea, worldwide) via MF/HF-DSC....and then direct two-way Voice communications (with either an RCC or another vessel) is done via SSB Voice....

This is the reason that you find many older (but still functioning) non-DSC Marine SSB radios for very reasonable prices these days....the reason that the Icom M-802 MF/HF-DSC-SSB Radiotelephone is such high demand....and the reason that modern MF/HF-DSC-SSB-Radiotelephones are not just ubiquitous, but are still coming into 2016 considered to be an essential part of both the GMDSS and most offshore cruisers/sailors on-board communications kit....they work, they work VERY well, and allow easy/quick two-way comms worldwide for both distress and routine communications!!

Just wanted to make sure that every knows that when discussing "SSB" for the past decade and a half, we are talking about MF/HF-DSC-SSB-Radiotelephones...and their associated costs of $1800 - $2600, installed...which is a big item to budget for....}

So, back to my point, as I have written many times, once most sailors understand these systems, their features and capabilities, they realize that the "choice" they find themselves on the fence about is:

a) Since I can obtain some of the best weather info/forecasts from seasoned, marine meteorologists, for free via WeFax (and other "broadcast" methods, Voice, Teletext), without use of e-mail or SMS/texts, do I need / desire e-mail connectivity when offshore on passage and/or in far remote locales away from cellular/3G/4G/LTE and Wi-Fi service??

b) If I do desire that e-mail connectivity when offshore / in remote locales away from cellular/Wi-Fi, then do I wish to use a PACTOR modem vs. a Sat Comm device for this data/SMS/text/e-mail connectivity??

In even the recent past, the answer to "a" was no not really desired....but for many these days the answer to "a" is a yes, as long as it doesn't cost me a lot...
So, then the choice to be on-the-fence about is: "b"....PACTOR modem or Sat Comm device...

Again, I won't ramble on and on about "SSB"....there are plenty of my posts here abouts if you're interested in that...
Just wanted to clarify that the real choice for most sailors is sat comm device vs. a PACTOR modem, not sat comm device vs. "SSB"...

Oh, I just saw belizesailor's comments about Rebel Heart...and without rehashing this whole thing, just wanted to add something...
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Redundancy I think is a big consideration. Case in point, Rebel Heart, SSB failed, Satt phone service failed, EPIRB became plan C & worked. Imagine their outcome without redundancy...not likely pretty.
1) EPIRB's are they way they are for a reason....they work!!
(but, do not forget that they are only ONE part of the GMDSS....and that second "S" stands for "system", where VHF-DSC-FM, MF/HF-DSC-SSB, and INMARSAT-C or Fleet77, are the other parts of the signaling/communications "system"...)
2) There is no question that if Rebel Heart had actually heeded the advice given to them here months/year before their departure (regarding "SSB", "DSC", sat comm, etc.), that they would not have suffered such a harrowing ordeal....yes, the boat would still have problems and yes, they still would probably made a distress call, but things would have been worked out much sooner and with seriously more information/organization...

For lots of great info on EPIRB's and rescue odds, etc., please have a look here:
EPIRB Activation? What happens/How to improve rescue odds

I do hope this helps some....but, also want to make sure that nobody thinks I'm just campaigning for "SSB"...

Fair winds..


John, KA4WJA
s/v Annie Laurie, WDB6927
MMSI# 366933110
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