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Old 04-06-2018, 06:23   #1
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SSB or not

Dear Readers
I have recently bought my first Ďproper yachtí a Warwick 46í but have been in the industry of sailing yachts all my life. I am impressed by how much technical information you all seem to have regarding comms and all the associated technicalities, and so would ask you this simple question: SSB or Sat phone?
My SSB does not appear to function; myself and others have tried known broadcasting frequencies to no avail. I am carry out some refit work currently and am thinking rather than try and trouble shoot my ICOM SSB I should just ditch it and get a Sattelite phone.
My cruising areas are SE Asia and hopefully down to NZ in a year or so where it seems nobody uses the SSB any way. Also I am very much a hands on boat building and sailing guy, and have little patience when it comes to understanding and playing with electronics.
Look forward to some simple practical advice.
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Old 04-06-2018, 06:45   #2
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Re: SSB or not

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seafun View Post
Dear Readers
I have recently bought my first Ďproper yachtí a Warwick 46í but have been in the industry of sailing yachts all my life. I am impressed by how much technical information you all seem to have regarding comms and all the associated technicalities, and so would ask you this simple question: SSB or Sat phone?
My SSB does not appear to function; myself and others have tried known broadcasting frequencies to no avail. I am carry out some refit work currently and am thinking rather than try and trouble shoot my ICOM SSB I should just ditch it and get a Sattelite phone.
My cruising areas are SE Asia and hopefully down to NZ in a year or so where it seems nobody uses the SSB any way. Also I am very much a hands on boat building and sailing guy, and have little patience when it comes to understanding and playing with electronics.
Look forward to some simple practical advice.
You said it yourself. You have no patience for troubleshooting electronics. An SSB, even when operating properly, requires knowledge and skill. If that is not your cup of tea, satellite systems make sense. Satellite systems do not have DSC, but you can work around that if you preload key phone numbers. Satellite systems are cheaper to install and more expensive to operate. Pay me now or pay me later. The bottom line is, if you don't know how to operate an SSB, it is useless.

BTW, I use SSB and don't have any satellite capability, and SSB works fine for me. Also, my SSB doesn't work at all in virtually any marina. There is too much RF interference and masts in marinas don t help. At sea, or at anchor, it works just fine. If you are attempting to transmit or receive in a marina, you won't get satisfactory results.
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Old 04-06-2018, 07:06   #3
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Re: SSB or not

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You said it yourself. You have no patience for troubleshooting electronics. An SSB, even when operating properly, requires knowledge and skill. If that is not your cup of tea, satellite systems make sense. Satellite systems do not have DSC, but you can work around that if you preload key phone numbers. Satellite systems are cheaper to install and more expensive to operate. Pay me now or pay me later. The bottom line is, if you don't know how to operate an SSB, it is useless.

BTW, I use SSB and don't have any satellite capability, and SSB works fine for me. Also, my SSB doesn't work at all in virtually any marina. There is too much RF interference and masts in marinas don t help. At sea, or at anchor, it works just fine. If you are attempting to transmit or receive in a marina, you won't get satisfactory results.

That is great advice thank you. I am reluctant to ditch the SSB as it looks like good equipment, but if it is need of new antenna (likely) is it worth replacing, it is also overly tall which I am sure is costly. What is your choice of sat phone and sat system? Thanks again
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Old 04-06-2018, 07:21   #4
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Re: SSB or not

What kind d of antenna is on the boat? Most boats use an insulated backstay. There is not much to replace on a backstay setup, just check the connections. If it is a vertical whip, it might be different. Antennas don't usually fail. Possibly the antenna tuner needs work. But all this gets into electronic troubleshooting that you don't want to do. There is a myriad of things to check on an SSB system.

On my boat the prior owner installed a terrific SSB system that he could not get to work, and went satellite, leaving the SSB languishing. I spent time, and about $80 in parts, and got the SSB to work superbly. The parts were to reduce internal RF noise, nothing was broken, just a poor installation.

The current favorite for satellite systems is the Iridium GO. The GO is attractive mostly because the voice/data plans are attractively priced, compared to other systems, and it works worldwide.
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Old 04-06-2018, 07:46   #5
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Re: SSB or not

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seafun View Post
Dear Readers
I have recently bought my first Ďproper yachtí a Warwick 46í but have been in the industry of sailing yachts all my life. I am impressed by how much technical information you all seem to have regarding comms and all the associated technicalities, and so would ask you this simple question: SSB or Sat phone?
My SSB does not appear to function; myself and others have tried known broadcasting frequencies to no avail. I am carry out some refit work currently and am thinking rather than try and trouble shoot my ICOM SSB I should just ditch it and get a Sattelite phone.
My cruising areas are SE Asia and hopefully down to NZ in a year or so where it seems nobody uses the SSB any way. Also I am very much a hands on boat building and sailing guy, and have little patience when it comes to understanding and playing with electronics.
Look forward to some simple practical advice.
On the passages to and from NZ and the islands SSB is used extensively by cruising boats. You can hear the recording of the daily checkins and cruisers weather info here: GHR Home
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Old 04-06-2018, 13:43   #6
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Re: SSB or not

Satphones reach only the party you are calling.
SSB reaches all vessels in range of the transmission.

Both are surprisingly frail (read up on "Rebel Heart").
Both are expensive.
Both require operator training, and if you think a satphone is "just a phone"...surprise, it can still find a way to stab you in the back.

If your boat has an SSB, call out a dealer to check it out and give you a start on the basics, then learn how to use it.

If not, then research both, they're both all over the web already. See which unreliable bundle of electronics appeals to you most. If your budget allows, you might just choice to have both.
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Old 04-06-2018, 14:01   #7
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Re: SSB or not

find a ham dood. find a good installer of radios. find a ham radio repair guy. where hams exist so do repair folks. perhaps just a mic issue.
there are locales in ocean where nothing works except radio. i think i would keep that radio. vhf is too short ranged, but ssb does work.
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Old 04-06-2018, 15:04   #8
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Re: SSB or not

They are different animals. SSB allows you to participate in nets, to listen to broadcasts from weather routers. Sat phone is just one to one, so itís a matter of what you want to do and which is the better tool.

I would keep the SSB as the problem might be something trivial, like a bad high voltage wire back to the tuner. Get a sat phone, or even something like InReach and then work on the SSB.
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Old 04-06-2018, 15:11   #9
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Re: SSB or not

SSB is 20th century, SAT phone is 21st century. Good luck finding anyone to speak with on an SSB.

Note: We have a high quality SSB onboard which hasnít been used in over six years.
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Old 04-06-2018, 15:25   #10
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Re: SSB or not

We use the SSB only when we are out of cell phone range, which is on passages. At least where we go, cell towers are everywhere on land. There are numerous international cell plans, all of which are less expensive than either satellite or SSB. Our cruising is 95% at anchor 5% passages. So, what I'm doing offshore is mostly checking weather, and keeping in contact with other boats on passage. So, we don't use our SSB much, because we don't spend our cruising time on passages. Most cruisers thst I know have a similar profile. Think about your cruising area and your cruising style.
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Old 04-06-2018, 15:36   #11
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Re: SSB or not

Personally, I would go with an InReach instead of a Satt Phone.

Either are good complements to an SSB. I have both (SSB & InReach) aboard plus an EPIRB, all are different tools for different uses and provide redundancy. If your sole comm device fails you in time of need then you are SOL....google Rebel Heart for an example of cascading failures.
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Old 04-06-2018, 15:38   #12
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SSB or not

Fix the SSB and think about a sat phone.
I have an SSB but no Pactor modem. In my neck of the woods, the SSB is useful for listening to Chris Parker, if you do nothing else with it, itís worth it. Then of course there are nets, Cruizeheimers is a popular one on every morning.
Iím now wondering if I should go for a Pactor modem, or a Sat phone.
If you go the phone route, only consider an Iridium phone, Globalstar etc donít work when needed most, their coverage sux, itís exactly like Verizon or a cut rate carrier.

Double what is said about being in a marina, and turn the fridge off, itís the thing that makes silly noises on SSB, turn it off and youíll see what I mean
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Old 04-06-2018, 15:39   #13
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Re: SSB or not

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SSB is 20th century, SAT phone is 21st century. Good luck finding anyone to speak with on an SSB.

Note: We have a high quality SSB onboard which hasnít been used in over six years.
Different folks, in different venues, use the tools at their disposal differently. My SSB gets used almost daily. There are plenty of active cruiser nets out there still and can be a great resource.
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Old 04-06-2018, 16:13   #14
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Re: SSB or not

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Different folks, in different venues, use the tools at their disposal differently. My SSB gets used almost daily. There are plenty of active cruiser nets out there still and can be a great resource.


I think itís due to where he is, when he moves to the Caribbean he will rediscover the SSB I think
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Old 04-06-2018, 17:27   #15
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Re: SSB or not

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SSB is 20th century, SAT phone is 21st century. Good luck finding anyone to speak with on an SSB.

Note: We have a high quality SSB onboard which hasnít been used in over six years.
If you haven't "used it in over 6 years", how do you know?

We have found lots of utility and activity of SSB both in the Caribbean and while crossing the Pacific using it for nets, weather, routing, customs info, chatting with others, obtaining local advice and a myriad of other uses. Satphones are great -we use it for phoning home.
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