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Old 22-02-2012, 15:57   #1
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Weather ... SSB or Sat Phone ?

Hey all, im looking into some new upgrades for my boat. Im wondering what you guys use for weather offshore. I know the steadfast is the ssb, but im wondering if its becoming obsolete with the availability and price drop of satellite phones?

Ease of use, connection to computer, weather data available, and the cost of installation are all important factors.

Any thoughts?
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Old 22-02-2012, 16:04   #2
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Re: weather... SSB or sat phone?

We use SSB......it's free to operate, and relatively easy to connect to the computer. Installation was not an issue as the unit is freestanding, rx only.
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Old 22-02-2012, 16:14   #3
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Re: weather... SSB or sat phone?

These days I normally use SSB for weather and comm, doubt it is going to disappear any time soon. Also have portable Grundig receiver as backup.

Have used satt phone for email and comm in the past, but not so much for weather.
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Old 22-02-2012, 16:22   #4
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Re: weather... SSB or sat phone?

SSB unless you have some seriously deep pockets.
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Old 22-02-2012, 16:39   #5
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Re: weather... SSB or sat phone?

no deep pockets here. sailmonkey: what do you mean freestanding rx only? recieving only?
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Old 22-02-2012, 18:58   #6
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Re: weather... SSB or sat phone?

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Originally Posted by Maineiac_sailor View Post
no deep pockets here. sailmonkey: what do you mean freestanding rx only? recieving only?
Yes, receive only. When we go further afield other than gulf of mexico/western caribe I'll upgrade to a transmitter.
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Old 22-02-2012, 20:18   #7
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Re: weather... SSB or sat phone?

Ive depended on SSB for more years then I like to admit !! LOL and have Ham also for Comm with family ashore. I even have a 25 watter for a spare, but use it the most for shorter comm here in the gulf and Carrib. never used a sat phone to expensive for this retired old guy ! Heck I still use a Cell phone that folds and has NO Camera LOL and i can bearly use that !! SSB is one of the easier installs, Reciever will work for ya for weather, and sailing Groups sites, but a tranciever is a good safety tool as well. Justa thought Bob and Connie
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Old 23-02-2012, 10:39   #8
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Re: weather... SSB or sat phone?

SSB...
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Old 23-02-2012, 10:57   #9
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Re: weather... SSB or sat phone?

Your intuition is correct, the SSB is rapidly becoming obsolete. Many CF threads details the reasons that support this conclusion. In summary...

1. SSB and Sat Phone install costs are approximately equal.

2. Sat Phone costs more to use but is way more reliable and is used on your schedule.

3. You can contact family and friends at any time.

4. The Sat Phone can follow you into the liferaft with all the emergency numbers in memory.
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Old 23-02-2012, 13:36   #10
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Re: weather... SSB or sat phone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
Your intuition is correct, the SSB is rapidly becoming obsolete. Many CF threads details the reasons that support this conclusion. In summary...

1. SSB and Sat Phone install costs are approximately equal.

2. Sat Phone costs more to use but is way more reliable and is used on your schedule.

3. You can contact family and friends at any time.

4. The Sat Phone can follow you into the liferaft with all the emergency numbers in memory.
Just be sure to buy a real Satt Phone (read: not GlobalStar) or some of the comments above about reliability and coverage do not apply. I would not want to trust my life to GlobalStar. Gave mine the heave-ho years ago. (See discussions here on CF).

Here in the Carib, SSB is still widely used by cruisers. I expect that substantially more have SSB than sat phone. Might make an interesting poll...
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Old 23-02-2012, 14:29   #11
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Re: weather... SSB or sat phone?

Might get a satphone, maybe maybe, but will never ditch my SSB.
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Old 23-02-2012, 14:46   #12
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Re: weather... SSB or sat phone?

We use a 3G USB modem for connectivity while near population and in some really remote parts. Offshore we use SSB/Pactor/Sailmail. The Satphone is just a backup and used for my my wife's work trips.
There are a lot of cruisers' nets that many cruisers fine a key part of the community. These are only available via SSB/HAM. They aren't for everyone, but if you want that kind of connectivity with other cruisers, then you'll need an SSB.
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Old 23-02-2012, 15:15   #13
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Re: weather... SSB or sat phone?

Maineiac,
I have many thoughts for you....(not the least of which is: SSB is not becoming obsolete at all....and, actually HF communications is still considered to be the primary mode of access to offshore weather for most cruising/voyaging sailors....as well as part of both the pleasure boat "cruising community" and the international GMDSS....)

This topic has been discussed quite a bit over the past year, and I'll try to pass on some brief thoughts, and some links to recent discussions....
(although not knowing exactly what equipment you have now, nor exactly where you'll be cruising, nor what your budget is, etc. makes recommendations difficult...)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maineiac_sailor View Post
Hey all, im looking into some new upgrades for my boat. Im wondering what you guys use for weather offshore. I know the steadfast is the ssb, but im wondering if its becoming obsolete with the availability and price drop of satellite phones?

Ease of use, connection to computer, weather data available, and the cost of installation are all important factors.

Any thoughts?
1) Let me preface this with the facts that I've made my living in electronics/communications (primarily commercial sat comm) for almost 30 years now, AND I've been designing, installing, operating, and repairing HF comm systems (both ham and maritime, on shore and on-board) for almost 40 years now.....
So, while I AM a "radio nut" and have my own personal preferances, I really don't have any big prejudices either way!!! (at least I don't think so...


2) Now then...you mentioned "offshore", which is a big generality....and precisely what system(s) you find are best for you to access weather info and forecasts on-board will depend a little bit on where, when, and how you're planning on sailing, cruising, and voyaging....( as well as your budget)
But, in general here are some "thoughts" based on my personal experiences sailing offshore (Atlantic crossings, the Med, US - Carib, misc Bahamas cruising....from the 1960's to present...)

a) For most of the N. Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and the north, eastern, central, southeastern Pacific......it is the US NWS/NOAA Marine Weather and Forecasts (broadcast FREE by the USCG, voice, text and wefax) that are still considered (by both commercial mariners and pleasure boaters) to be the "gold standard" of offshore weather info/forecasts....
(with the Canadian, UK, AUS, NZ, and French met offices also providing excellent offshore weather info/forecasts, much of which is also still broadcast for free....)
And, for other areas of the world not covered by the others, you have many of the remaining ocean voyaging nations (Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, SA, Brazil, Chile, Russia, Germany, Greece, etc.) still providing good offshore weather....

Most of this is broadcast for free, over HF radio (using very powerful transmitters)....whether voice, text, or wefax....and is easily received by an on-board SSB set-up (or even a simple portable receiver) w/o any special modem, etc.....

{-You can use free software (JVComm, etc.) in your laptop, connected to your HF receiver (or SSB transceiver), to receive wefax charts and images, as well as hf text broadcasts and NAVTEXT...
-Or you can use a dedicated hf wefax / NAVTEX receivers (as I do, as well as many commercial ships)....
-There is NO need for any PACTOR modem to access this weather info / forecasts....}

Here are just a couple of pages where you can get some idea of what is available....
National Weather Service Marine Forecasts
Marine Radiofax charts
USCG HF SITOR
USCG HF Voice
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/rfax.pdf


b) Some have been frustrated by HF (SSB) comms, as they do require you to learn a bit, before you can use it as "plug-n-play"....
So, they have decided to use sat phones (Iridium in particular) to access some of the above mentioned weather data / forecasts....via e-mail and compressed files....
And/Or to access computer generated forecast models (so called GRIB files).....

{Some that have decided to forego learning too much about hf comms, but wishing to stay within their budget by NOT using expensive airtime on a sat phone, and/or have NOT equipped their vessel with a fixed sat phone antenna (making sat phone data connection difficult when in a seaway), use their hf e-mail access (using their HF / SSB with a PACTOR modem) via Sailmail or Winlink, to access this weather data / forecasts via saildocs....(this is a more "auotmated" way of doing this, and if you're not too experienced in hf comms, this can also result in better quality weather chart images....and they also have access to the above mentioned computer-generated models (GRIB's)....}



c) If you have a desire for hi-res, full color graphic displays of weather charts and images, etc. you can also access much of the above weather info/forecasts via the internet, etc...but that's well beyond what most offshore cruisers can afford when offshore (~ $5000 up front for a broadband sat terminal)....

{if coastal sailing, in the Bahamas, Mexico, and northern Carib, some have also had good luck using Sirius Marine Weather (via Sirius Sat Radio).....but certainly not a substitute for HF/SSB and/or sat phone comms...}



3) Here are some recent discussions on this topic, which you may find useful....
HAM / SSB / SAT Phone

Ham, $$B, Iridium ?

Advice on Having SSB Aboard

If Data Connection Is Necessary, What's Best ?

Weather Fax on SSB

Buoy Weather

SSCA Forum • View topic - shortwave marine weather forecasts in english?

SSCA Forum • View topic - Is weatherfax what I need?

SSCA Forum • View topic - Trouble Copying Wefax Using JVComm32

SSCA Forum • View topic - Sat Phone / Plan Recommendations

SSCA Forum • View topic - Weather Info from SSB/Proctor Modem






I hope this helps...
(There is quite a bit more out there.....but I didn't want to overwhelm you....)

Oh, and here are some pictures of my Nav Station....
Nav Station


John
s/v Annie Laurie
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Old 23-02-2012, 15:33   #14
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Re: weather... SSB or sat phone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LakeSuperior View Post
Your intuition is correct, the SSB is rapidly becoming obsolete. Many CF threads details the reasons that support this conclusion. In summary...

1. SSB and Sat Phone install costs are approximately equal.

2. Sat Phone costs more to use but is way more reliable and is used on your schedule.

3. You can contact family and friends at any time.

4. The Sat Phone can follow you into the liferaft with all the emergency numbers in memory.
Couldn't disagree more.

Sat phone contracts are insanely expensive.

There is a much greater importance on contacting other vessels (via nets and shared frequency) than talking to mom back home about her arthritis. SSB allows you to contact other vessels within a few hundred (or more) miles for incredibly valuable information that is far more current than what you can scrape off the Internet.

Travelling around with an SSB is a lonely existence.
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Old 23-02-2012, 19:27   #15
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Re: weather... SSB or sat phone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post

Couldn't disagree more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BelizeSailor
+ 1
....talking to mom back home about her arthritis.....
Also, you can still chat with mom using your SSB via marine operator services (or HAM relay/autopatch stations at no cost). Costs are competitive with Satt Phone.
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