Originally Posted by canucksailor
...I was discussing the whole HAM qualification route
with another cruiser last night. We both agreed that we had our radios for the purpose of communicating - not discovering how to build/tear down a radio
, or to become radio
hobbyists with a mind full of arcane jargon we can baffle non hobbyists with. Neither one of us cares about what is behind the knobs and dials...
A bit off the original topic, but it seems like a general trend here is that if you want the privileges of using the Ham bands you need to earn them. This seems reasonable. We started this cruise
with our 2 teens on board in 2001 & I would have had a mutiny if I couldn't provide them with email
to their friends. The main options here are:
- SatPhone: $1,200+ up front & $700/yr but web access anywhere so good safety gear
- SailMail: $700 radio + $700 modem + $300/year for short messages
- Winlink: $700 radio + $700 modem but free with more stations & longer connect times (no business)
- Cyber-cafés: Cheap but difficult to get to & often virus ridden, only land based
- 3G Modem: $40 modem + ~$1/day data plan, fast internet access but only near land
We bought (& still have) a SatPhone but mostly so folks could contact us. But the costs were so high ($700/yr or $500/yr & $1.50/min) that we dropped it. I'm told that if I turn it on & punch 911 (the US emergency
code) that I'll get someone, but I haven't tried it. One major safety
aspect that we lost
was the ability to access web pictures of storms & their tracks while at sea, but GRIBs have provided all we've needed so far.
I happen to be somewhat radio-active
& wanted an SSB
anyway for the weather
nets, WeFax & social aspects. An additional $700 + some study time to be allowed to have free worldwide email
via Winlink was a no-brainer. Winlink is a wonderful service
& we've used it daily for 10 years.
were $250 when we started using them in 2007. Now they're under $40 & faster, so they make a lot of sense for when we're near land, which we almost always are. We can usually get a usable signal 15 miles from a tower. Our son would have killed to get this sort of internet
out to Ocelot when he was on board.
Friends were sailing down the S African coast, 5 miles off shore in thick fog
& wanted to go into Knysna. But the entrance is very narrow & tricky, not to be attempted in anything but ideal conditions. But they had a cell signal so they plugged in their modem & went to TheHeads.co.za
which has 2 webcams of the entrance. No fog
& no swell, so they turned in, sailed out of the fog, & made a successful landfall. Pretty cool!