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SailGal 20-03-2007 11:43

Internet / Email Onboard
How does everyone keep in contact via e-mail/internet onboard while traveling? Is it very costly?

Captain Mark 20-03-2007 12:54


Originally Posted by SailGal
How does everyone keep in contact via e-mail/internet onboard while traveling? Is it very costly?

SailGal, see this thread from earlier, it should present you with the answers you are looking for.

I always used SSB and a Proctor Modem and SailMail. However, with the price of sat phones coming down and the ability to take them off boat when needed it has become a very interesting option.


DeepFrz 20-03-2007 13:00

The SSCA forum, Communications subject, also has a lot of information on email and communications.

SSCA Discussion Board :: Index


Pblais 20-03-2007 18:37

Out at sea the cheapest solution is Sailmail using SSB Radio. It's text only plus you can download GRB weather info and it does have some limits but at $250 / year it's the cheapest you'll find. Sat phones would be the easiest to use but at a considerable cost increase. If you expect to use sat phone it's a good idea to pre buy blocks of minutes. I really see nothing to indicate sat phone prices will drop much.

What I have seen other friends do is just use marina broadband and use Skype phones. I talked to my buddy Max in the Azores just yesterday. Broadband is getting more common in a lot more places than you might think. If you can just touch base in poerts you'll find a lot of Internet options ashore.

camaraderie 21-03-2007 22:46

Paul...with the cost of a pactor & hookup at over $1k and the $250 annual fee for 10 minutes of TEXT only attachment e-mail a day...I don't consider Sailmail a cheap alternative to sat phones because it is so limited. I had it and would NOT get it again even though it works quite well. (Its a whole lot MORE expensive if you don't even have the SSB...but anywhere south of the Bahamas I don't think that is a good decision! )
GlobalStar WAS an excellent solution since you can get a phone for less than a pactor, the rates were only 25 cents a minute or so in bulk and you got 9600 bps throughput but they are on the ropes and having reception problems so can't recommend them in good conscience until those problems are solved.
So...that leaves Iridium..reliable almost everywhere on earth. An added emergency backup that will let you talk to someone from your liferaft...and a reliable if expensive way to get e-mail and attachments and (even web pages...though quite slowly ).
If I were outfitting today I would go the Iridium route along with a good wifi antenna for the boat to pick up the occasional "free" signal or subscribe to the local wifi service if I was going to be anywhere for a while. Or just carry the laptop into the local internet in the "old" days! <g>

Sunspot Baby 22-03-2007 05:56

I don't know your cruising plans, but more and more remote places are getting internet/Wi-Fi. If you don't need to check in everyday and will be stopping at settlements every week or two, you may be able to keep up without anything special on the boat.

A lower hassle method of emailing (not internet browsing) is Skymate. Check them at We have used it for 3 cruises and are happy with it. Much easier than a Pactor modem and SSB or Ham.


rebel heart 22-03-2007 08:48

Those SkyMates use the Orbcomm constellation, which is a company I used to work for. Those birds are essentially big repeaters sitting in the sky. You send a message to one, and then it relays that message around to other birds, eventually contacting a ground earth station (Virginia, I think).

That's why you can't do anything "live" with Orbcomm; it doesn't hold open connections. Totally asyncronous. Most people in the satelite community don't even consider it a "real" network because it doesn't distribute tasks at all; it's just a series of repeaters and routers.

As far as me personally, I'm cool with no email for long periods. I work in the software industry, so I eat sleep and breathe technology. That being said, having email on the boat is a pain in the butt and requires a lot of money that could be used by other stuff.

If I need to work remotely, I'll find a marina that has DSL and camp out there for a few months while working on a project.

There's very little business value I could get out of even the best satelite systems. They're extremely expensive, and to really do business you need a good connection, and a good phone number too.

I suppose you can use it for personal use, but I don't need to drop two grand so I can update my blog a week earlier than when I pull into port.

rebel heart 22-03-2007 09:12

Although I have to admit, 20,000 characters for $34.99/month (plus the $1,200 unit) seems like a pretty good deal, especially considering that you have near global coverage.

captainjwlee 02-09-2011 20:03

Re: Internet/e-mail onboard
SailGal, Trying to find a way to ask you some questions about Boston to Saint John, planning a delivery in Oct or November, thinking of going via bermuda. Thought you might have some helpful info.

Cats Eye 03-09-2011 17:00

Re: Internet / Email Onboard
We used a Sprint connection called MiFi - it worked in USVI/BVI/Bahamas/US. We can hook up 5 computers to the network. The lil credit card looking thig that puts out the signal was free and we pay $60 a month for unlimited use and free roaming. The downside is the connection is like our Sprint cell phones. If we do not get a signal we can not get internet. It works all over the US and the USVI (we lived there) but in the Bahamas it was in and out.
We also got the SPOT device so we could just "check-in" with people so they knew we where OK when we where sailing around the DR.

P.S a lot of places out internet was not working there where plenty of bar/marinas that offered it for free!!

AnchorageGuy 03-09-2011 19:34

Re: Internet / Email Onboard
Considering that the OP was 4 years ago and hasn't posted since, it might be hard to make contact. Maybe a new thread with specific questions might get you some answers. Chuck

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