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Old 08-03-2017, 16:59   #1
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email offshore

I haven't kept up on the new technologies. What is the best way to have email offshore anywhere?
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Old 08-03-2017, 17:06   #2
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Re: email offshore

How far off?
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Old 08-03-2017, 17:16   #3
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Re: email offshore

There is no "best" way. It depends on how much data and what price you are willing to pay. Shortwave email costs about $3k for new equipment and data rate is free for hams. For boats without a ham then you can purchase a one year subscription for $250 from Sailmail.

There are satellite systems that range in cost from a few hundred $ up to many thousands of $ with monthly fees of $100 to $thousands depending on data rates and usage bytes.
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Old 08-03-2017, 17:21   #4
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Re: email offshore

Thanks!

A Valiant 42 just passed through our area (Herradura) here in Costa Rica a couple weeks ago. They were on there way to the canal and going to do the upwind slog to the Antilles.
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Old 08-03-2017, 17:24   #5
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Re: email offshore

Quote:
Originally Posted by transmitterdan View Post
There is no "best" way. It depends on how much data and what price you are willing to pay.
Ummmm, well, there is a 'best' way. That's satellite.
The difficulty of using the 'best' way is the expense.
And then the rest of your post is accurate

I have been using a sat phone for 8 years and am no where near $1,000 yet. That's equipment and air-time.

However I am a special case where I have been given 2 phones. Airtime in Asia via Thuraya is very cheap and I wasn't using data till my second phone just a few years ago.

That data costs me about $350 per year. But I am quite frugal with it.

SMS can be sent to all sat phones for free and if used well reduces the airtime cost to almost zero
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Old 09-03-2017, 02:45   #6
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Re: email offshore

I have an iridium that I hook up to sailmail ( email and gribs) for some passages, , texting is a pain as the phone is quite agricultural compared to modern phones.
Im purchasing a inreach, I can still get weather although not gribs, 500 texts a month and emails plus it has sos capabilities. It uses the iridium network. I like the fact I can suspend the service if I'm not using it, which is something I don't like regarding iridium phone.

Sent from my vivo Y35 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
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Old 09-03-2017, 03:07   #7
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Re: email offshore

I think Iridium pilot is probably the best way to go these days, even though I hate the antenna. If you're just looking for the occasional brief email, this is overkill, but I think it's probably the best fully functional choice for a cruiser currently.

I have an Inmarsat fleet broadband 150 on Rocket Science, and at the time we purchased, it was the best way to go, because they had a small vessel prepaid plan. They have since done away with that (jerks), so FBB is now way too expensive for your average cruiser.

There was talk that they might bring the prepaid back. We were grandfathered, so we're still ok, but it's too much now for the casual user. It is beyond me why they'd do this and exclude a portion of the market.

We spend about $50 a month while cruising on airtime, sometimes more, sometimes less. This is doing occasional phone calls, emails, weather, and the occasional web session with a web optimizing program.

If you just want basic email, a normal Iridium phone will do the job. Or SSB/Ham as noted before.

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Old 09-03-2017, 05:15   #8
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Re: email offshore

Shortwave e-mail does not have to cost $3k. Spend a couple of days reading and get your HAM license. Spend $400 on a used HF/SSB radio, $100 on a manual antenna tuner, $50 or so on an interface to your computer, and you can send and receive e-mail from anywhere in the world. I can absolutely guarantee you that this works, as I have done it. (Actually, I only spent $350 on my radio, $60 on the antenna tuner.)

Now, of course, that approach is not nearly as "plug-n-play" as most of the others. But it does work.

You can then use Winmor, which is essentially the same as a Pactor, except that it doesn't cost anything and it uses your PC as a modem. Or you can use PSK-Mail, which doesn't have as much bandwidth, but is a more robust system when transmission conditions are poor. The drawback with PSK-Mail is that it hasn't caught on too much, and so there are limited gateways to the internet around the world.

All that said, for those who don't have an interest in getting a HAM license, the simple satellite systems are probably the best.
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Old 09-03-2017, 05:30   #9
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Re: email offshore

That is a lot to digest and it is very helpful information. I appreciate the advice!

It has come a long way from the 70's when the only communication was placing a call at the land based telecom station and waiting (perhaps hours) for the call to actually be linked. I did meet a lot of other friendly cruisers also waiting for calls to be placed.
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Old 09-03-2017, 06:09   #10
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Re: email offshore

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Originally Posted by jungleboy View Post
I haven't kept up on the new technologies. What is the best way to have email offshore anywhere?
There are quite a few devices out there so here is a comparison of the Iridium options:

Option 1 - Iridium 9555 In Dock

The Iridium 9555 is a very reliable little handheld satellite phone with pole-to-pole satellite coverage. When used with a dock and an external antenna, the system performs very well for email, voice, and weather. In an emergency, very small webpages (like mobile-sites) can be accessed, but they will take a very long time to load and cost a lot of money.

$1,195 - Iridium 9555
$860 - Satstation 9555 Deluxe Docking Station (this is optional, but a very nice accessory to have)
$250 - External Fixed Mast Antenna
$149 - 10m Coax LMR Antenna Cable
---------------------


Option 2 - Iridium Pilot Satellite Broadband Terminal

The Iridium Pilot is a fixed installation antenna that provides broadband capability. Although it runs slow by land speeds (up to 128kbps - about twice the speed of dial-up) it is significantly faster than a handheld satellite phone (which runs at 2.4 kbps - 25 times slower than dial-up). Because of this and other operational features of the unit, doing basic activities like email, weather, and voice calling becomes incredibly inexpensive. Downloading a GRIB file over a handheld satellite phone will cost somewhere around $2.15 in airtime. Downloading the same GRIB file over the Pilot would cost about 2 cents in airtime. While the upfront costs of the unit are more than a handheld, the ongoing costs are significantly less. Adding in the ability to web-browse (which, while expensive and slow, is possible and a very nice feature to have in an emergency!) means that you get a much higher quality of service than with a handheld satellite phone.

Total: $4,495- Iridium Pilot

A nice thing about the Iridium Pilot, as well, is that Iridium just introduced month to month contracts for airtime.
--------------------

Option 3 - The Aurora Iridium Marine Terminal

The Aurora is a fixed dome that is by far the least invasive setup (just a thin ethernet cable to run instead of a large LMR antenna cable). The Aurora allows you to use your mobile devices like an iPhone to make phone calls over the WiFi connection. You can also do email, weather, and vessel tracking on a laptop or mobile device. The Aurora runs on an Iridium handheld modem, so you are charged standard Iridium rates (generally about $1.44 a minute for talk).

The wonderful thing about the Aurora is that it provides all the features of the full 9555 setup (and more) for less money, with a tidier setup, and the same flexibility of prepaid Iridium airtime.

$2,099 - Aurora
--------------------------

Option 4 - Iridium GO!

The Iridium GO! is a small WiFi hotspot satellite phone very similar to the Aurora. You can make satellite phone calls with your smartphone, do compression email and download weather files. We highly recommend you hook up an external antenna to the unit so that you can use it below decks. If you need to view weather files on your laptop or would like to send and receive emails on your computer or laptop, you will need a subscription to XGate email service.

$799 - Iridium GO!
$47 - Iridium GO! External Antenna Adapter
$250 - External Fixed Mast Antenna
$149 - 10m Coax LMR Antenna Cable
-----------------------

All this information can be found on our website. Let us know if you have any further questions!
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