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Old 16-01-2012, 15:30   #1
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Arctic Sailing

I am preparing for a return voyage to East Greenland and as always am undecided about the best, affordable, communications especially as a means of receiving weather data. Has anyone got a simple and cheap solution to this ?

Also on the question of sailing to Iceland, I route through Isafjordur on the way to Greenland. It's a friendly port with helpful people as well as putting you in a good position to go for it when ice conditions are right. Getting there from the UK is a matter of choice. As I leave from Ireland, I generally head for Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides and then depending on the weather pattern, either go for the Vestmann Islands and on round to Reyjavic and up to Isafjordur or by way of the Faroes to Sejdisfjordur and round eastabout with the possibility of departing from Grimsey.
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:03   #2
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Re: Arctic Sailing

Maybe not perfect but:

Help from 2 friends back home that sends FREE iridium text a few times a day. Backed up with an explaining text över email (sat-phone) or (Pactor) when it gets tricky. Otherwise try to listen/be a part of one of the radio-nets in the area. A good way of getting the local knowledge that the Gribs not always shows.

Cruising the southern (sub)polar region at the moment.
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:12   #3
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Re: Arctic Sailing

The SSB/HAM nets in the area should be able to help you. Do you have equipment like that onboard?
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Old 03-02-2012, 11:04   #4
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Re: Arctic Sailing

SSB should serve you well.
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Old 03-02-2012, 11:53   #5
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Re: Arctic Sailing

Got both SSB and handheld sat. I would go for the sat anytime. A cheap handheld, ok for talkning and emailing. The sum of our SSB, certificate, Pactor and so on was not worth the hassle. But when it's there, NICE to have of course.
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Old 03-02-2012, 12:55   #6
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Re: Arctic Sailing

Come and visit us in Newfoundland & Labrador!

George
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Old 03-02-2012, 14:09   #7
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Re: Arctic Sailing

We have sailed to Svalbard up to 80° north and had no problems getting weather and ice information via SSB and Pactor.

Up to 78° we had mainly connections via a station in Belgium, at 80° connections via Alaska were more reliable. Send me a pm if you have further questions.
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Old 03-02-2012, 17:39   #8
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Re: Arctic Sailing

A sat phone onboard and a wx support guy onshore are a nice combination in situations when you cannot get radiofax / gribs to the boat.

If you can get wx onboard then all you need is understanding of what the data represents and how to interpret it.

b.
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Old 03-02-2012, 19:28   #9
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Re: Arctic Sailing

Just in case all that fails, a good barometer is nice. I like the ones with a pressure history. The circular aneroids look "shippy", but provide less information. There are some good weather stations available. I have a watch that with a built in barometer and history. Study the weather patterns.

I also note the BP on every deck log entry to force me to look at the barometer.

A sat phone with email and grib files via a saildocs email report should work OK. A SSB modem laptop arrangement is nice for weatherfax.
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Old 03-02-2012, 19:30   #10
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Re: Arctic Sailing

If you want to go "wholehog", Expedition will even tell you what course to steer, if you have your polars.
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Old 11-03-2012, 09:09   #11
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Re: Arctic Sailing

We have been sailing in Arctic waters since 1995 and in our early days we used the SSB radio, but with our new boat we changed to satphone. We use globalstar, a Canadian provider. Their rates are approx 1/10 what of Iridium charges and a new phone can be purchased for +/- $300.

The downside is that globalstar does not cover the whole world, for a circumnavigation of the globe it is not the best choice. Our experience in the Arctic however are great, even at 82 degrees north (Spitsbergen in 2007) was a great coverage. With our SSB radio we had to wait for the right time of the day to download our emails and sometimes we even had to set an alarm because the right time was at night. With our satphone we can download the mails and grib files whenever we want.
We have a phone plan of $35 a month (runs for a year) and that gives unlimited calls and data traffic within Canada. Roaming outside the area limits is at $0.70 per minute. Similar plans, at slightly higher cost, are available for European waters.
This is my no1 choice for communications in Arctic waters.
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Old 11-03-2012, 16:20   #12
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Re: Arctic Sailing

Just experienced some first hand info about this issue. With very heavy solar storms in are of Antarctic where my boat now is anchored we have had some interesting "problems" with communications in the resent past. Without the use of the Iridium handheld, the Pactor, the Sailmail, the VHF and without other means of communication it's been an interesting couple of days to do a full scale close to real test of old-school methodes to see and listen. Document. And then most important: F-E-E-L.

Then we found out that that was no need for wind of sailing the south, turned of the cooling systems and took some cold lager with the big fishes, the guys in black and with tux and whispered to some some polar bears, aka icebears.



/Nemo - not the fish...
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Old 13-03-2012, 07:57   #13
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Re: Arctic Sailing

Have you tried Globalstar on the east part of Greenland? Planing go up to the ice/Jan Mayen and thought SSB was my only option. Iridium is a hassle and drops connection. Good to have options when one system fails.
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Old 13-03-2012, 08:00   #14
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Re: Arctic Sailing

Only as far as Scoresbysund, but I assume you won't go any further north than that?
Coverage was pretty good, calling was not always possible, but data traffic was good, somtimes a bit slow, but generally we had rates as high as 250 kbs
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Old 13-03-2012, 09:34   #15
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Re: Arctic Sailing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik de Jong View Post
With our SSB radio we had to wait for the right time of the day to download our emails and sometimes we even had to set an alarm because the right time was at night. With our satphone we can download the mails and grib files whenever we want.
We had the similar experience using our SSB when crossing from Halifax to Ireland in 2010. The SSB was painful but was still a backup for the Iridium Phone.

We then mainly relied on our Iridium satphone with XGATE to download GRIBs. We had two dropped calls out of 20 however XGATE nicely starts the download where it was dropped so you don't have to start over.
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