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Old 18-11-2010, 15:12   #16
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Lake Superior,

The inexperience demonstrated was the apparent total reliance on Herb for weather. HF comms are sometimes difficult or impossible over a given path for a given frequency. Did you try Herb's alternate 8mHz frequency? Did you attempt to make contact on another HF channel?

Bill
Bill, drawing conclusions without data is something a first year engineering student might do. By golly we did try Herb on the alternate frequency and yes we did have the capability to obtain weather via the SSB.

The SSB weather charts were inferior to the GRIBs via the sat phone obtained in 1/4 of the time and not on a schedule. Also, in our case analog quality of the SSB was poor versus digital GRIBS via the Iridium. We could download a 96 hour forcast at 3 hour intervals in 5 minutes on the sat phone. Try that with an SSB.

The learning curve point is a good one. If one doesn't want to commit a fair amount of time getting good with the SSB the sat phone requires minimal investment, just dial the number or have your computer dial it for you.

We bought the SSB 1 1/2 years ahead of departure and intalled it in the garage just to become familiar with using it. Again you may not like it but SSBs are absolete.
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Old 18-11-2010, 15:31   #17
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Obsolete? Not yet in my opinion.

In the Caribbean we have found our SSB invaluable, we can download weatherfax, send emails (via Sailmail), access the MANY cruisers nets and have listened to more than enough sea rescues co-ordinated over the SSB to absolutely convince me of the ongoing value of SSB.

In 10 years of operating such a system I can count on one hand the number of time that I have been unable to gather the info that I needed(mostly weather) by one way or another. Yes sometimes it means searching the frequencies or using relays but eventually it gets done.

Satellite phones are great too but the cost is still prohibitive to many of us cruising. I'd love one but quite honestly simply couldn't afford the service.

My first choice however would still be the good old SSB.
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Old 18-11-2010, 15:35   #18
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G'day, Mates. It simply boils down to what the captain's budget will allow him to spend. And with all due respect, Lake Superior, SSB is not absolete, at least not yet anyway. I purchased my radio (Ham, SSB, & Marine VHF all in one), pactor III modem and even an outbacker antenna for $1,000 5 years ago to compliment by other 2 Ham/SSB radios that came with the boat when we boat it. Since that time, I have NEVER failed to make contact with a land based Pactor station (for email and GRIB weather data) THE or Pacific Seafarers net when I wanted to. Yes, propogation can be a bit of a struggle to deal with, no doubt.

In New Zealand, Maritime radio still monitors the marine emergency maritime frequencies 24 hours a day. A tip, load the aeronautical control center frequencies in your radio, as well, for the areas you are passagemaking through, believe me, somebody is always monitoring them as well. It is perfectly legal to contact them if you want to declare an emergency and need help. An example, 8867 upper side band is the frequency for Brisbane Air Traffic Control. Cheers.
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Old 18-11-2010, 15:45   #19
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Old habits Old habits Old habits Old habits die hard. I wonder if, in a different format, people had the same debate about the horse and buggy being superior to the more expensive and somewhat technically advanced motorized carriage. Both usually got you there but sat phone, by whatever means, is always going to win out in the long run.

Having used both, they are almost mutually exclusive in terms of utility: SSB being convenient for conversing with others for entertainment value or convenience and sat phone being the more purposeful method.
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Old 18-11-2010, 15:48   #20
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The boat I put a contract on has a Iridium satphone and SSB/pactor modem- if some of you don't mind chiming in that use the satphone, what sort of a cruising outlay are you spending cost-wise in order to receive weather and information on it? I'm not trying to pry into people's finances, just trying to get an idea of how much people budget to use a Satphone as their source of weather, communication, email, etc.? I know that the sky is the limit, but for the basics I think a general idea might help people that are looking at the two options to compare. The setup cost for satphone is less, but what is operational cost?
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Old 18-11-2010, 16:34   #21
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Satphones are great but I spent 800 dollars getting weather info down going across the atlantic

I agree with mark we are in transistion a transition to Internet data at sea fleet 150 hardware costs ate down to typical high end Ssb costs. While running costs remain high it's falling and will continue to fall. Access to the Internet surpasses both satphones and ssb


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Old 18-11-2010, 17:09   #22
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I know that I have gored more than a few sailors ox with the above comments. Sorry about that.

I am looking at the problem from my needs and my experience with both the sat phone and SSB. I just want to get the job done. If the goals are 1. simple communication with home and family, 2. reliable fast access to weather data at any time, and 3. simplicity in an emergency, the Iridium wins out. No learning curve, no propagation issues, no looking up radio frequencies in the dark, almost total reliability, and redundacy with the EPIRB in an emergency. The sat phone wins hands down.

That said, if use of the SSB is not strictly utilitarian but is an end in it self, a hobby in its own right then enjoy. For me, I just want the data and voice. I simply am not interested in learning the art of using HF radios.

Now learning how to catch ocean fish...
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Old 18-11-2010, 17:12   #23
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....I simply am not interested in learning the art of using HF radios.....
Well, there you go! That says it all.

B.
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Old 18-11-2010, 17:17   #24
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The boat I put a contract on has a Iridium satphone and SSB/pactor modem- if some of you don't mind chiming in that use the satphone, what sort of a cruising outlay are you spending cost-wise in order to receive weather and information on it? I'm not trying to pry into people's finances, just trying to get an idea of how much people budget to use a Satphone as their source of weather, communication, email, etc.? I know that the sky is the limit, but for the basics I think a general idea might help people that are looking at the two options to compare. The setup cost for satphone is less, but what is operational cost?
The SSB is free. I paid $1.30 per minute for Iridium connect time. You can get minutes for under $1.00 per minute in quantities of 3000 minutes.

BTW, XGATE will save you tons of minutes however there is a nominal monthly charge of a little over $10.00 per month for email (cheaper than my email at home.)
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Old 18-11-2010, 18:04   #25
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I certainly wouldn't cross an ocean myself without having a sat phone at the ready. And I wouldn't want to cross one without also having a ham capable SSB available.

No doubt the sat phone is more plug and play, and there are situations and locations where it might be the only effective means of communication, but I kind of like a belt and suspenders approach. And in an emergency, it is almost inconceivable that one couldn't contact a Ham somewhere who could render some assistance - given proper radio installation and use. There have been a couple of emergency situations recently in the Pacific where sat phone service was found wanting, with the SSB/Ham radio filling the void in one of them.
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Old 18-11-2010, 18:12   #26
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I certainly wouldn't cross an ocean myself without having a sat phone at the ready. And I wouldn't want to cross one without also having a ham capable SSB available.
Why? TIA
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Old 18-11-2010, 18:32   #27
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An ICON M710, tuner, packet modem (so you can use snail-mail) and antenna can be done for for considerably less than $5000 (actually using a refurbished SSB, tuner, packet modem through e-bay everything can be had for <$1500)
I am looking into a sat phone, but most likely so I can have a phone on land when traveling.

I would say, ideally both. Get the SSB and learn how to use it and discover all of it's possibilities before you are in a position to rely on the easier (though limited) use of the sat. Also in time the cost of sat phone usage plans will come down, you can already get a pretty decent sat phone in a pelican case with all the bells and whistle on e-bay for about $250
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Old 18-11-2010, 19:09   #28
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Wow.... For a second I thought I asked what anchor or should I have a weapon aboard! The camps seem to be very polarized....

From what I've been able to find, the hardware costs are similar, the HF being free per minute, but having reliability and speed issues, whereas the sat has per-minute charges but is fast and reliable.

The learning curve is not terrible for me, as I have used one for years... granted not hooked to the computer, but I digress..... IF I were incapacitated and my GF or whomever need assistance, the Sat wins for sure... the SPOT and EPIRB have their place in that scenario as well.

BUT on the otherhand (insert doomsday scenario) if the sats go down the HF will still work.... decisions, decisions!
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Old 18-11-2010, 19:11   #29
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Did a TransPac this summer. Got my Ham General License just before leaving. Took a couple of days answering questions from a website on the internet as study for the test. Had a few problems getting my Icom 718 radio and tuner to talk to each other but worked that out. Had communications via the Ham HF radio on 20 and 40 meters all the way every time I tried. HF email was a little spottier. Always managed to get my emails out and in but sometimes had to wait for the bands to open up. Usually no more than a couple of hours. Got my daily wx fix first thing every morning. Price was right as the email and voice were free. Cost of installation was under $1500 with radio, tuner, HF modem and backstay. It's there anytime I want to use it and doesn't cost anything on a monthly basis when I'm not using it.

I checked into a Sat Phone but equipment cost was similar to the Ham Radio installation and the continuing costs were astonomical whether I used the radio or not. Could only find multi month plans with a somewhat reasonable per minute cost but costs skyrocketed if I was going to download wx data and/or internet. Only needed the tranmit capabilities for the passage to Hawaii, didn't want to have to pay for months of disuse once I got within cell phone range.

After a short amount of research, Ham radio was the only logical choice.
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Old 18-11-2010, 20:39   #30
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I will cut a few corners on my SSB by not getting some of the real high tech bells and whistles I don't need anyway, but still get one of the best Marine SSB's made (the ICOM M710 has a long history of being a good radio) and pick up a fairly basic sat-phone with a limited calling plan. I am not pro one or the other, both have there uses, The main thing that the sat phone has the SSB doesn't is one of the parts of "civilization" I am fleeing anyway....never been a heavy phone talker.
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