Thought I would contribute to the access to wx at sea discussion. Here is my setup, it is cheap
and works well
The best data for the price
at 9600 baud and solid when it is up much better than iridium
for data. At the moment 19.95 per month for unlimited data or call time due to their satellite
problems. For you snowbirds no charge to start up or shutdown service
once you have an account if you are ashore for a few months. It is not always up as you all know but I find more than enough up time for my purposes. On average about one reasonable length link per hour.
The phones are pretty reasonable as the dealers have been panning the service
for some time. I bought a older 1600 model for less than 300 bucks with extra batteries and hard flotation case on Ebay. You will need a data cord. List price
is stupid high retail but I found one for twenty bucks on the Internet
. I usually have my kids
send me an email
with the call times in my area 4 days out so that I don't have to fart with the web software at low baud rate but it is fairly easy to watch the phone
for a signal.
Set up saildocs to send you grib files or whatever you are interested in. To lower file sizes I typically have more than one request - a large area low definition one so that I can see what is coming and then a small area high definition one for where I am anchored. Really helps when dropping the hook for the night. As you know grib files don't have local effects but are generally very good one to two days out. After 3 days I am doubtful but at least I have the 5 days in my back pocket.
I use Opera browser
for all my sat data stuff. It works great as it has a low bandwidth mode with compression
that works well and email
filters and will send you the headers for every email. They come up quick on a call in and then it is a simple matter to select which emails you want to download. I may have several days of grib files in my inbox but I just download the latest ones or the most recent maps.
Another nice trick. Get a google voice
account and have your voice mail forwarded to it. Google
will transcribe your voice mail and forward it to your opera email account. Download your voice mail as an email and call them back. Now you don't have to worry about whether people can call you due to the satellite
down time. The transcription works pretty well so you can usually understand the message. Doesn't seem to like Brit accents - they must talk funny
or something. Damn free yankee software.
I am very careful who I give my offshore
email address to in order to avoid the dreaded Internet
forwarders although Opera sorts them in the headers.
So there you go for 19.95 a month all the weather
you want. Family
available all the time. No fees
for compresson or wx delivery
, no modem
cost and if the devil seam opens up you can just step into the raft and call the coast guard.
Also if I meet people I like that have been on the hook for a while I let them use my phone
as calling is unlimited. Make sure your downlink is locked to your home location or you will pay extra charges.
By the way. Great thread.