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Old 18-09-2012, 04:23   #31
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Re: Simple SSB only for ship-to-ship?

While John ( Ka4Wja) is very informed and a proponent of GMDSS ( as I am as a VHF instructor and ham fan). I would suggest that given the OPs considerable setup, it doesnt seem necessary to add SSB. Ive sailed several ocean crossinhs and considerable other mileage in many boats thats were never equipped with SSB, in fact outside the "dedicated" blue water cruiser, and leaving aside comms nuts like myself, there isnt a lot of SSB usage. In fact on Marine SSB as opposed to ham Nets, theres hardly any traffic at all. And some nets are more like housewives talking....!!!

As for emergency, I would still ascertain , that a satphone and a EPIRB is a good belt and braces approach. Simply ring Halifax or Falmouth directly from anywhere and leave them handle it. AGree what you said re rescue times, but that applies to all forms of communications. In my experience SSB comms to vessels is of limited use.


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Old 18-09-2012, 06:16   #32
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Re: Simple SSB only for ship-to-ship?

We had a new SSB and a new Iridium (with external antenna) for our two year trip (2010 - 2012) around the North Atlantic. The SSB got relegated to the bin because of the hassle and constraints of using it. In fact it was still new when the trip was over.

The Iridium was efficient and fool proof with no learning curve, think using a cell phone. With the external antenna we always had a strong signal and no dropped connections on the whole trip.

With the Iridium we downloaded weather everyday on the passages on our schedule and talked with our families daily.

Communicating on the SSB was a major hassle because of varying and poor propogation. Yes, we verified our installation was sound. The SSB is not worth the aggrevation unless you have no other options or are into messing around with radios.

As far as boat to boat many leave the SSB on 24/7 when passaging? We ran the VHF at all times but not the SSB.

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Old 18-09-2012, 06:38   #33
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Re: Simple SSB only for ship-to-ship?

I put an SSB in the "nice to have" category so was not prepared to drop $3000 on a unit.

Instead I bought a used Icom 700pro ($500), a used AT-130 tuner ($250) and new KISS counterpoise ($125). I fabricated an antenna, which I haul up on a spare halyard. I self installed (free - plus frustration). The entire rig set me back less than $1000 and worked great on my last cruise.

The benefits were Chris Parker's weather reports and checking in on the net daily (just to see how well it worked). Although I carry an epirb, it was the added safety feature that compelled the purchase.

Now not to deride the Ham operators at my marina who "helped", asking those guys advice was like asking for the time - and getting a protracted lecture on how the watch worked.
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Old 18-09-2012, 08:20   #34
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Re: Simple SSB only for ship-to-ship?

Going back to the OP's question about talking to near by boats. This summer I sailed to Bermuda and used my ssb for email, weather reports and faxes, as well as talking to shore and boat based nets. Listening to boats in the nets I was able to talk to another boat sailing back to the east coast as we were sailing out. We exchanged real time weather reports and general chat off the nets. I think this is sort of what the OP was talking about. I never saw the other boat and we were never close enough for VHF so SSB was the only way we could have "met" each other and continue to talk. whether the OP feels the expense of the install or not is up to him but this illustrates a classic example of what he was looking for. Sat phone or VHF would not have worked and unfortunately there really is no simple hand held unit to do this. SSB requires a long antenna and a bit more power so that rules out a hand held. SSB is a bit more of a party line type communication so you can track and connect socially with other boats even mid ocean. Sat phone cannot do that, so it is up to each person to decide what they want and what it is worth. As for safety well my thinking is each has pluses and minuses but when push comes to shove i want every type of communication I can get when the seaweed hits the fan. Can never have too much help when you are in real need and hundreds of miles from shore.

Capt. Wayne Canning, AMS
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