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Old 16-02-2011, 13:45   #1
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SSB, or . . . what ?

If i stay within the coast of say 50 miles on the way down to panama from California ... will i still need SSB... seems to me VHF can reach 30 miles or so. and other boats in area will respond if trouble... also i guess it would help to speak Spanish off of Central American Coast...
also how can i get my computer to work Globally and at what cost...
if i can get computer to work i would not need some instruments... yes or nay..
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Old 16-02-2011, 13:54   #2
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1: i still say get a ssb.better to be safe than sorry.reason being if you are in trouble the ssb range is better and there are fellow cruisers who monitor certain nets to provide help and even translate for your behalf.vhf range are affected by weather conditions and terrain.
2: when you say get your computer to work global what do you mean by that? never substitute any instruments for a computer.a computer will most likely fail wayyyyyyy faster than your instruments!
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Old 16-02-2011, 14:09   #3
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No matter where I am in the world I can count on my computer to work in the same aggrivating manner. But to replace instruments?????? I don't follow you, but if you want to use it instead of a GPS......well that's just nuts.
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Old 16-02-2011, 14:13   #4
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Before a $$$ SSB, get an EPIRB and have it properly registered. It is much cheaper.

COSPAS-SARSAT (International Cospas-Sarsat Programme) is connected to GMDSS. If you activate an EPIRB, the alert is transmitted to a Marine Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC) in your flag state, which is then in charge of organizing your rescue.

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Old 16-02-2011, 18:25   #5
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I'm also unclear about your computer question. Are you asking about wifi connectivity or something else.

As for SSB vs VHF, they really cover different needs. VHF is, as you say, for relatively short distance communications, while SSB is for long range, e.g., keeping in touch with US stations through out the voyage. You can also use SSB for email, but there are additional costs, e.g., Pactor modem, etc.

Even though I have a SSB and use if for email, you might be better off renting a sat phone if it's just for this trip. I don't have one, so I can't speak to what you can and can't do with it, but I'm sure others will happily fill you in. You can also read the numerous SSB satphone threads on this site.

And always carry and EPIRB, etc...
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Old 16-02-2011, 18:44   #6
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SSB vs VHF. VHF is line of sight, so if the antenna is high (top of mast) then you could reach the horizen, about 16 miles vs SSB very long range. A eprib can save your life after you get yourself into trouble but a SSB can keep you from getting into trouble. I would carry all of the above. Still not sure about your computer question.
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Old 16-02-2011, 18:45   #7
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Get an EPIRB, rent a phone.

We don't have an SSB, nothing against them, but our sat phone takes care of distance communications -- direct and fast.

Not sure what you mean about making your computer work globally, but we have a data connection from our Iridium phone to our laptop for email and GRIBs.
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Old 16-02-2011, 18:47   #8
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You can use the Internet on the boat via the Inmarsat Fleet. (E.g.)

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Old 16-02-2011, 20:10   #9
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Btw, the range for VHF depends on how much power you use to transmit as well as the height of both antennas (VHF range is slightly greater than line of site). For tall antennas at 25 watts, 50 miles seems reasonable, say, talking to a shore station with a tall antenna. However, I could only contact another boat like my own at around 16 miles or less.

For an example of some extreme cases, take a look at Marine Traffic which keeps track of AIS targets. AIS uses VHF at about 12.5 watts (class A, 2 for class B), and it looks like their range is about 100 miles or so. Though that may be stretching it for voice communication.
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Old 16-02-2011, 20:26   #10
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Originally Posted by nv5l View Post
AIS uses VHF at about 25 watts (class A, 5 for class B),
Class A AIS uses 12.5 watts, class B is 2 watts.

Eric
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Old 16-02-2011, 20:31   #11
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Ah, thanks Eric. So that makes marine traffic even more impressive.
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Old 16-02-2011, 21:22   #12
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You want extreme; I've received Class-A AIS from my hilltop antenna at 1800 nautical miles. 1000 miles isn't extraordinary, and 100 miles is pretty typical. I'm at 1000 ft elevation so the horizon is about 50 miles off.

The extreme range is due to tropospheric ducting, and is very weather-dependant.

As for SSB vs VHF vs satphone vs EPIRB, they all have their place and none of them are a requirement. I would start with VHF for all-around usefulness though, then satphone, then SSB (and we can argue endlessly about SSB vs satphone). EPIRB is for a true emergency, and if you need it you will be glad to have it.
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