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Old 13-02-2018, 04:30   #1
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Email access while offshore

I'm planning to cruise around the top of Australia in July/August this year, travelling from Cairns to Darwin. I expect to be away for some weeks most of which will be out of cellular mobile phone range. I propose to rent or buy an Iridium phone for emergency purposes. My problem is that I must have regular and reliable email access as part of my work commitments. I simply must be in contact with the office.

Can anyone advise how I can achieve reliable email access - presumably via an Iridium satellite phone? Even though the email access is required for work purposes, we don't have money to burn and I want to secure the email access at reasonable cost. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Cheers,
Gary on the yacht Meshugah.
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Old 13-02-2018, 10:18   #2
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Re: Email access while offshore

Quote:
Originally Posted by meshugah View Post
I'm planning to cruise around the top of Australia in July/August this year, travelling from Cairns to Darwin. I expect to be away for some weeks most of which will be out of cellular mobile phone range. I propose to rent or buy an Iridium phone for emergency purposes. My problem is that I must have regular and reliable email access as part of my work commitments. I simply must be in contact with the office.

Can anyone advise how I can achieve reliable email access - presumably via an Iridium satellite phone? Even though the email access is required for work purposes, we don't have money to burn and I want to secure the email access at reasonable cost. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Cheers,
Gary on the yacht Meshugah.
we would all like reliable internet at sea.

subscribe to Sailmail, get an account there (about $300 us per year). This will allow you to send e-mails and receive e-mails from you office .

be advised that this is only text e-mails - forget pics or graphs or whatever.
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Old 13-02-2018, 11:23   #3
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Re: Email access while offshore

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Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
we would all like reliable internet at sea.

subscribe to Sailmail, get an account there (about $300 us per year). This will allow you to send e-mails and receive e-mails from you office .

be advised that this is only text e-mails - forget pics or graphs or whatever.
If you are using Sailmail with Iridium, you can indeed send and receive small photos and graphs. Using Sailmail with SSB, the connect-time limits are more restrictive, but you can send tiny photos.

I've been happy with Iridium and XGate (Global Marine Networks), but there may be newer options available.
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Old 13-02-2018, 15:44   #4
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Re: Email access while offshore

Thank you carstenb and Paul Elliott for your responses. I will check your suggestions.

regards
Gary on Meshugah
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Old 14-02-2018, 20:58   #5
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Re: Email access while offshore

You should be able to just plug the sat phone in via USB for full internet access. If you get the USB kit. Email and web. It'll just be slow and pricy. The above programs will help shrink your usage data a bit. But spending money on a program to save money. How much are you really saving total if any. vsr hassle. Don't know. But no special service or program should be required.
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Old 14-02-2018, 22:11   #6
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Re: Email access while offshore

You cannot use sailmail, it it specifically prohibited in their terms and conditions to use it for commercial mail. If business is so important, get a sat terminal and pay the bill, or use the sat phone.
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Old 14-02-2018, 22:21   #7
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Re: Email access while offshore

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Originally Posted by Neptune's Gear View Post
You cannot use sailmail, it it specifically prohibited in their terms and conditions to use it for commercial mail. If business is so important, get a sat terminal and pay the bill, or use the sat phone.
While amateur radio is definitely limited to non-commercial usage, I'm pretty sure that there's no such restriction with Sailmail. This is from their terms and conditions:
Quote:
The Association provides radioprinter (e.g. Internet email) communications for its members on a cooperative basis, in order to meet the private business and operational needs of the members’ yachts.
(bolding mine) Here's their T&C webpage: https://sailmail.com/cost-and-applic...nd-conditions/

With ham radio, you *can* order a pizza, or buy parts for your boat, but you cannot conduct yours or your company's business. With Sailmail it should be OK. (At least in the U.S.A. Perhaps some countries impose other restrictions.)
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Old 14-02-2018, 22:33   #8
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Re: Email access while offshore

I was using Ocensmail with a Iridiumgo! which was working fine, as long as you not need to send or receive large mails.....
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Old 15-02-2018, 01:33   #9
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Re: Email access while offshore

Quote:
Originally Posted by meshugah View Post
I'm planning to cruise around the top of Australia in July/August this year, travelling from Cairns to Darwin. ..
Hi Gary.

I'm planing to do the same route, but probably a couple of months before you. Might see you in Darwin.

Take a close look at the Telstra coverage maps:
www.telstra.com.au/coverage-networks/our-coverage

The few stretches that are out of reach of GSM (external antenna & G3) pretty much correspond to where the Alan Lucas guide says the anchorages are few and crappy, so you might find that you spend very little time out of cellular range. And if you time those stretches for weekends and do a few all-nighters you might just be able to get by without satellite comms.

Robert.
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Old 15-02-2018, 11:55   #10
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Re: Email access while offshore

Thanks guys for your feedback. Its very much appreciated.

Robert, I checked out the Telstra coverage map and it looks promising. I will probably go to Tipperary Waters marina in Darwin, although haven't made a final decision just yet.

Gary on Meshugah
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Old 15-02-2018, 13:13   #11
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Re: Email access while offshore

"I simply must be in contact with the office. "
Taking you at your word, then you must simply bend over [sic] and pay the nice folks at Inmarsat for a professional communications setup.

When you say "MUST" then price is no object and you will either pay it, or break the "MUST" by quitting or otherwise redefining priorities.

And probably get the Iridium setup anyway, as a backup. Because "MUST" doesn't tolerate equipment failures or outages.
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Old 19-02-2018, 18:38   #12
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Re: Email access while offshore

Thanks, it looks as though I will need to have at least 2 options so that I have back up in the event of equipment problems. I appreciate all the input.
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Old 07-03-2018, 11:43   #13
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Re: Email access while offshore

Gary,
I think HF-Radio and Sailmail would be a fine choice for you....it's fixed-mount, reliable, and easy to use....even in bad weather / remote locales, worldwide....
But, it appears you don't have HF radio system on-board??
So, you wish a different solution??

So...
I'm using hellosailor's quote here, as it highlights an important point....if you "must" have this capability, then you do not want a handheld sat phone, nor IridiumGO...

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"I simply must be in contact with the office. "
Taking you at your word, then you must simply bend over [sic] and pay the nice folks at Inmarsat for a professional communications setup.

When you say "MUST" then price is no object and you will either pay it, or break the "MUST" by quitting or otherwise redefining priorities.

And probably get the Iridium setup anyway, as a backup. Because "MUST" doesn't tolerate equipment failures or outages.
Bottom line:
Unless you have an externally-mounted sat comm antenna you will not receive calls/texts/e-mails until and unless YOU bring the equipment above decks, and connect to the system servers, via sat comm....
Of course, you can rig an external sat comm antenna to a handheld unit or "GO", below decks (or rig a IridiumGO outside), this becomes costly and can still suffer reliability issues...

This is why fixed-mount sat comm terminals exist!
They work, work quite well, and are damned reliable!! (but, pricey)

If you want the most robust, most reliable, system available....that would be INMARSAT-C...absolutely reliable...part of the GMDSS system!!
But, only does 600 baud, plain-text e-mails....but 100% reliable!
(about $3000 USD, plus billed "by the character" e-mail charges)

Doubt that it would meet your needs....so next would be INMARSAT FleetBroadband 250 (or 150), or Iridium Pilot...
(note both of these systems have been around a couple years and work great, and both are presently being tested for GMDSS certification, so are super reliable)
(about $4000 to $8000 USD, plus average $500 to $1500/month air-time)


All the above are L-band Mobile sat comm systems...
If you want higher-speeds, you'll need to look at Ku-band / Ka-band VSAT systems...
If you require hi-speed (> 250kb, up to 3Mb speeds) for video, etc., then I suggest you decide how much of a "must" this is, 'cuz they are wicked expensive!!!
(figure $25,000 to $50,000 USD, but usual air-time is less than half of INMARSAT air-time...)


If, the "must be in touch" is a bit flexible...then as others have suggested, try a terrestrial-based mobile/cell system....
Much cheaper, and probably adequate for your cruise??



Hope this helps.

Fair winds..

John
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Old 07-03-2018, 12:41   #14
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Re: Email access while offshore

We just returned from a month in the Bahamas, mostly in the out-islands and were very happy with the performance of our Iridium Go.

- We were able to use it below decks with just the built-in antenna. Presumably it would be much better with the marine install kit with a bigger antenna mounted outside.
- You can use your cell phone to make voice calls through the Iridium Go. I used it to check my voicemail every other day.
- There is an unlimited data plan for $125/mo that includes 90 minutes of voice calling and unlimited data and text messages.
- Even with unlimited data receiving a lot of email will be SLOW. You can set up your Iridium mailbox and client so that only small messages are automatically downloaded. You will also get a list of large messages and can choose to download them or not individually. Email with a lot of http or image attachments will take time to download. Expect a 1Mb message to take maybe 20 minutes.

I'm not sure why you would want a sat-phone over the Go unless having one less item in your ditch bag (sat phone versus Go and smart phone) is important to you.
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Old 07-03-2018, 13:25   #15
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Re: Email access while offshore

here's what you'll need - MCD-4800 BGAN - A Global Internet Hotspot Case
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