Irish, I wish I could pitch
in face-to-face but perhaps you'd like to pose a few Q's to me via email
. WHOOSH is homeported in St. Pete but we won't be back there until Fall. Right now, we're awaiting weather
to cross Biscay enroute Spain
. We used Winlink since 1998, non-stop, and can highly recommend it. There's a learning
curve and it will give you additional reasons to make sure your installation
is solid...but once you get it set up, it is reliable and the 40+ stations around the world are staffed by super people. The weather
catalogs are especially valuable and we consider them a safety
asset and, for that reason, more important than Winlink's email
Re: a 'modem' (TNC) your only real options are an SCS IIe or IIPro. Either way, you'll want to set up the TNC for fully automatic functioning (you don't touch the radio
after turning it on; just use the laptop) as this is very easy offshore
when you're half seasick and sleepy, not to mention tired. I have found a lot of sources for buying
these TNCs but, for better and worse, SCS remains the only game
in town (mostly because they are very, very good at what they do) and so you won't find any bargain prices unless you buy used. If you buy used, make sure you understand what it will take to upgrade the TNC to Pactor
III for your call sign. This can make 'cheap' used TNCs look like a bargain when in fact they aren't.
I'd prefer to not offer my winlink address on public fora - Spam is a neverending problem for the Winlink folks - but you are welcome to contact me at my Yahoo address and I'll try to tackle any Q's you may have. Meantime, download Airmail (don't forget to get Getfax and Viewfax, as well) and begin to explore it. Look at the weather files (Window - Catalogs - open the Global folder) for some long-term motivation!
Sorry I'm not around the corner to help you get 'hands on' experience; that's always best with either SSB
or computer stuff. We'll be back in the Fall...