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Old 14-08-2013, 10:14   #31
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Re: SatPhone vs SSB/SW

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Originally Posted by galacticair View Post
Fully agree with the point on SSB vs. Satphone in an emergency - being able to directly call someone you know ashore is invaluable.
.
In an emergency, any means of communications is great to have, and the more different means the better.

However, I would caution against thinking that "being able to directly call someone you know ashore" -- while it's great and certainly comforting -- is any kind of substitute for the main means of distress signalling as defined by the GMDSS system:

1. EPIRB
2. DSC calling over VHF
3. DSC calling over MF/HF

When you're far out at sea, the most indispensable of these is no doubt EPIRB (don't leave home without it, for sure!), but DSC calling over SSB is also extremely valuable since, unlike EPIRB, it (a) alerts other vessels, who if they are GMDSS mandatory are required to maintain a watch on DSC; and (b) it gives the rescue services a means of communicating back with you. A six-band DSC distress signal over MF/HF automatically activates a rescue by giving a formalized message with all essential information with just the press of a single button. If your SSB is set up reasonably well with a decent antenna, your message will be received all over the Atlantic Ocean (or Pacific, or wherever), exactly where it's needed, and with all essential information. Since the message is sent over six different bands, propagation conditions won't matter that much -- one or another of the messages will get through. A call from a sat phone, on the other hand, requires (a) knowing the right place to call; (b) having coverage at the moment you need it (and handheld satphones won't work below decks, and won't be usable above decks in hairy conditions); (c) a whole conversation between you and the rescuers to get across the essential information (your position, identity of the vessel, nature of your emergency, etc.). It's also valuable, but it's just much less efficient than MF/HF DSC, which requires nothing more than pressing the red button.

Furthermore, once you're being rescued, it's not guaranteed that your rescuers will have their own sat phones to call you on to coordinate the rescue. They will, however, be able to talk to you for sure if you have MF/HF radio.

So anyway, MF/HF radio is not essential, it's not required by law, and a sat phone is also useful in an emergency of course, but MF/HF DSC is especially valuable for emergency situations, for sure more valuable than a sat phone for that specific purpose.
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Old 14-08-2013, 10:24   #32
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Re: SatPhone vs SSB/SW

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Originally Posted by Akka View Post
My second comment is about SSB vs. satellite phone for emergency use. As an owner of both systems (ICOM 802 and Inmarsat), I have to say I have much more faith in the satellite phone than in SSB, because the latter depends on the premise that somebody is listening on the emergency channel, and that he's within the right propagation annulus for that frequency. By contrast, with my satellite phone I can not only send an emergency digital signal with position, etc., but more importantly I can call my daughter and tell her we're sinking, or whatever, and where we are. Commercial vessels may or may not hear my SOS, and the Coast Guard may or may not believe and/or respond to my signal; but my daughter will move heaven and earth to be sure somebody comes to my rescue.
You don't need to worry about propagation or frequency if you use DSC to make your emergency call, as you are supposed to anyway.

DSC will send a digital message across six different frequencies, all of which are monitored by Coast Guard and rescue service stations. Most radio equipment, including your M802, will maintain a DSC watch on all six frequencies simultaneously. As you will know from VHF DSC, the digital messages are much more robust than voice comms, and will get through over distances and propagation conditions where voice comms are impossible. I received a VHF DSC distress call last month from a small sailboat from 120 miles away.

So, no, you don't have to faff around trying to make a voice contact on SSB, and you don't have to search for the right frequency or worry about whether someone is listening or not. You just press the red button, and your message will be received by the Coast Guard, rescue services, and other vessels, automatically.

That is in case you have DSC (so Icom M802 or M801E), and you have it set up properly (separate antenna for receiving DSC messages, correctly programmed, GPS data fed into the radio). If you don't have functional DSC, then all your comments are correct and I agree with you, that SSB without DSC is not extremely useful compared to other means of communications, including possibly sat phone if you have a proper fixed installation which allows you to use it below decks.
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Old 14-08-2013, 10:26   #33
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Re: SatPhone vs SSB/SW

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
In an emergency, any means of communications is great to have, and the more different means the better.

However, I would caution against thinking that "being able to directly call someone you know ashore" -- while it's great and certainly comforting -- is any kind of substitute for the main means of distress signalling as defined by the GMDSS system:

1. EPIRB
2. DSC calling over VHF
3. DSC calling over MF/HF

When you're far out at sea, the%
Agree on the first part but disagree on second. VHF is LOS and MF/HF depends on batteries not shorted, the atmosphere, and potential for not knowing if you have been heard. In addition, you would not be able to supply present location because the SSB is not taken into the life raft.

We felt more secure having CG and British SAR numbers in the Iridium phonebook. My hierarchy would be

1. EPIRB
2. Direct dial Iridium
3. DSC calling over VHF
4. DSC calling over MF/HF
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Old 14-08-2013, 10:27   #34
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Re: SatPhone vs SSB/SW

for emergency, no comparison, Sat phone over SSB/SW. I cant imagine trying to hear (and find...) someone on SW in the middle of a storm and crisis.....
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Old 14-08-2013, 10:53   #35
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Re: SatPhone vs SSB/SW

This (reposted) flowchart is from AMVER. It is their recommended decision making process in an emergency. They are the ones who will coordinate a rescue when outside of CG capabilities.

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Old 14-08-2013, 11:10   #36
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Re: SatPhone vs SSB/SW

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for emergency, no comparison, Sat phone over SSB/SW. I cant imagine trying to hear (and find...) someone on SW in the middle of a storm and crisis.....
Once again -- if you're talking about SSB without DSC, then I fully agree.

But DSC is a horse of a different color. Unlike satphone, DSC does not require you to hear or be heard at all. Does not require looking up anyone's number, hoping to be heard over the storm, reading off a GPS position, etc. Just push the red button.
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Old 14-08-2013, 11:18   #37
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Re: SatPhone vs SSB/SW

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Once again -- if you're talking about SSB without DSC, then I fully agree.

But DSC is a horse of a different color. Unlike satphone, DSC does not require you to hear or be heard at all. Does not require looking up anyone's number, hoping to be heard over the storm, reading off a GPS position, etc. Just push the red button.
Direct sailor to SAR facility on a satphone has somewhat more appeal to me than pushing a button and wondering if anything happened. I get the logic but then any specifics of the situation I may want to communicate in an emergency doesn't happen with DSC.

How do I beat no power problem when the batteries are flooded by seawater?
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Old 14-08-2013, 11:29   #38
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Re: SatPhone vs SSB/SW

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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
Agree on the first part but disagree on second. VHF is LOS and MF/HF depends on batteries not shorted, the atmosphere, and potential for not knowing if you have been heard. In addition, you would not be able to supply present location because the SSB is not taken into the life raft.

We felt more secure having CG and British SAR numbers in the Iridium phonebook. My hierarchy would be

1. EPIRB
2. Direct dial Iridium
3. DSC calling over VHF
4. DSC calling over MF/HF
You make a good point about sat phone's being battery powered and portable -- so you can take it into the liferaft, and don't depend on ship's power. Indeed -- those are concrete advantages of satphone which I failed to mention. A good reason to have one in addition to a MF/HF DSC radio.

For the batteries shorted problem, it is required by GMDSS (or SOLAS, I forget) that the radio have its own separate power supply. I guess that few pleasure vessels will have that, but it's probably not a bad idea.
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Old 14-08-2013, 11:32   #39
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Re: SatPhone vs SSB/SW

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Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
Direct sailor to SAR facility on a satphone has somewhat more appeal to me than pushing a button and wondering if anything happened. I get the logic but then any specifics of the situation I may want to communicate in an emergency doesn't happen with DSC.

How do I beat no power problem when the batteries are flooded by seawater?
First of all, you don't wonder whether you've been heard or not -- you get an ACK back over DSC.

As to seawater flooded batts -- indeed this is a worry unless you have a separate -- maybe LiFePo -- battery for your radio.
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Old 18-08-2013, 23:45   #40
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Re: SatPhone vs SSB/SW

Wow,

Lots of valid opinions on both sides. I'm in the same "boat" a new boat to me without good long distance weather or communications ability. I just got my technician ham license just to do it. Don't know if that will change or help with any purchase or install I decide to do. I'm wondering besides the Icom 802 what other Ham / SSB units used or reconditioned might work for me and where I could find the source. I really like the idea of not paying high monthly fees w/ many of the other Sat phone options. If I really need to I could probably budget to get the 802 but what would I be missing with an older unit. Also, I'm not sure I understand buy don't most of the radios have the Ham capability it's just you have to be licensed to use it?
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Old 19-08-2013, 00:01   #41
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Re: SatPhone vs SSB/SW

Yes your right, Ham radios can be clipped to go SSB and SSB radios can be clipped to transmit on Ham.
Much of the discussion is about emergencies at sea and of course thats very important but depending where you are at, in addition to emergencies, the SSB can be a wonderful way to stay in touch with cruising friends. Worlds biggest party line (for those that are old enough to remember what a party line was) in the South Pacific and Mexico as well as passages we always enjoyed touching base. We are in the Med now and its not the same, easier to just use email but in certain areas I wouldn't want to be without the SSB.
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Old 19-08-2013, 00:03   #42
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Wow,

Lots of valid opinions on both sides. I'm in the same "boat" a new boat to me without good long distance weather or communications ability. I just got my technician ham license just to do it. Don't know if that will change or help with any purchase or install I decide to do. I'm wondering besides the Icom 802 what other Ham / SSB units used or reconditioned might work for me and where I could find the source. I really like the idea of not paying high monthly fees w/ many of the other Sat phone options. If I really need to I could probably budget to get the 802 but what would I be missing with an older unit. Also, I'm not sure I understand buy don't most of the radios have the Ham capability it's just you have to be licensed to use it?
You will really want to stretch for the M802 if you can. It has DSC, which is an enormously valuable safety tool. Plus it has a remote control head making it vastly easier to install in most boats.
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Old 19-08-2013, 00:09   #43
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Re: SatPhone vs SSB/SW

The ICOM 718 is a good basic HF ham radio that will do almost anything you want. Used, they run from $400-$650. A new one will set you back a little less than $700. The ICOM AH-4 tuner is around $325. For just over a boat unit, you can be up and on the air on the Ham bands. ICOM has ham radios with more bells and whistles as do the other radio manufacturers.

An ICOM 802 is going to set you back 2 boat units for the radio alone. It's your decision on how much money you want to spend and what features you won't be able to live without.

Personally have found the 718 to meet all my radio needs, simple to operate, no need to sort multiple layers of menus to make it work. Just turn it on, dial in a frequency and I'm on the air. I can talk to the maritime mobil nets, occasional QSO's with hams, get a phone patch and send email via my Pactor Modem. Doesn't have DSC but I've got two Epirbs and a PLB for when I really need to reach out to someone.
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Old 19-08-2013, 01:44   #44
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Re: SatPhone vs SSB/SW

Great thread, have learned alot
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Old 27-09-2013, 19:06   #45
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