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Old 09-07-2023, 15:42   #1
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Satellite phone for Weather Data.

I am sailing my boat from the UK to the Canaries next month and considering what to do for weather data across Biscay and down from Portugal to the Canaries.

Iím guessing my three choices are to buy an Iridium Go Exec package (very expensive), rent an Iridium Go Exec or get a Starlink system. My question is does the Starlink system work well across Biscay etc, will I need an external ariel, will I need the marine version or will the RV system work well at sea. How easy is it to buy Starlink in the UK.

If I go Iridium Go will I need an external ariel?

Thanks for your help guys.

Paul Barnett
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Old 09-07-2023, 16:38   #2
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Re: Satellite phone for Weather Data.

Iridium GO does not need an external antenna, but it may benefit from an external antenna if you canít locate it with a clear view of the sky (through a hatch is fine, but even fibreglass will reduce the signal).

You donít say whether you are moving the boat further across the Atlantic or are just getting it to the Canaries. Renting a GO or an Iridium phone are probably your cheapest options if this passage is a one-off.

Note that the purchase price of a GO or a Starlink are similar. The GO provides you with phone, SMS and email capability, with extremely slow data speeds sufficient for downloading weather. Itís in the order of USD 100-150 per month to use. Starlink Roam regional plan is USD100-150 per month for unlimited high speed Internet (another USD50 if you need the global plan), with opt in Mobile Priority data adding to that so you can continue to use it on ocean areas. So Starlink is slightly more expensive, but infinitely more useful if you want/need more than basic comms.

Iím not sure what the use case is for Iridium GO Exec now that we have Starlink. Any thoughts?
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Old 09-07-2023, 16:48   #3
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Re: Satellite phone for Weather Data.

There is a lot of information to digest if you are coming to this not knowing anything about the different services. The Iridium and Starlink are very different, and the answer isn't that one is better than the other, it is that they are very different.

Starlink has a fairly large antenna, and depending on which you choose, might be quite large. Starlink uses quite a lot of power, and many boats struggle with that. You will need a lot of solar, or a generator, to run starlink. If you are just making it now with your power needs, you won't be close to being able to run Starlink. Starlink is also not a means for emergency communication. You can't take it with you in a liferaft. And in many emergencies, if you lose power, or take a large wave that hits the antenna, Starlink is done fore.

Iridium (there is also the Go! which is cheaper than the Exec) is extremely slow. It has been used for years by many sailors for weather and text only email, and works fine for those. Most boats find a benefit for an external antenna, but it isn't always required because there is an internal antenna. The external antenna is very small, like a GPS antenna. It also works for voice by tethering a cell phone to it. It has an internal battery and can be taken with you in a liferaft. But it is pretty much useless for any other Internet uses outside of text only emails and weather. The exec is much faster than the go!, but still don't expect to use it for anything other than weather or email. I'm not sure I would put out the money for an exec over a go!

Starlink is great at Internet. For surfing the web, streaming movies, social media all work as well as if you were on land. For what you get, compared to Iridium or other high speed Internet services on boats, it is really cheap. But, if you get Starlink, you really need to also get an inreach (which is also Iridium btw) for emergency coms. Some sailors have both a Starlink and a Go!, so when the Starlink goes out in an emergency, they have the Go! to fall back on.

Then there is the question of what plan to get. Starlink has 2 dishes to chose from, a smaller rectangular dish that will auto tilt to get the best signal, and a larger antenna that is flat and doesn't move. Both are awkwardly large to mount. The larger one uses even more power than the smaller one. Officially, the smaller one is not allowed to be used on boats or in motion, but it works fine. For now, as Starlink has a history of changing TOS or starting to enforce TOS that they let slide for awhile.

Starlink has a "roam" plan, a "motion" plan, and a "priority" add on. The "priority" add-on is required for ocean use, and is $2 per GB.

For the Iridium Go! it is more simple, get the unlimited plan.
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Old 09-07-2023, 16:48   #4
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Re: Satellite phone for Weather Data.

Go Starlink. RV works according to most folks. We have the RV Roam bigger dish. Works nearly flawlessly, anywhere. For ocean hexes, you will have to pay an additional $2 per GB. A steal.
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Old 09-07-2023, 20:22   #5
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Re: Satellite phone for Weather Data.

I am doing the research now trying to make a decision on a system from my boat. It is a decision you need to make on your own, Do you want the system for long term or just the delivery? If just a delivery I would suggest to rend an Iridium Go exec. Starlink is a bit more expensive overall but faster. One of my concerns is the marine plans are quite a bit more, if you have an RV systen will they geo fence your system making it inoperble off shore. The Go exec has to be with in 15 fee of the esternal antenna if added. There are also the Iridium Certus systems. The advantage of the Iridium Go systems are they are portable and could be take with you off of the boat.
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Old 09-07-2023, 21:46   #6
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Re: Satellite phone for Weather Data.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gudgeon View Post
ÖIf you have an RV systen will they geo fence your system making it inoperble off shore...

That is not correct. With the RV-Regional service you can use any land hex in your continent and any ocean hex in your continent with the Mobile Priority data opt-in. With the RV-Global plan you can use any land and ocean hex anywhere, with the same requirement to opt-in to Mobile Priority data for ocean hexes.

If you donít opt-in before entering the first ocean hex then your Internet access is cut off and the Starlink app shows an ďout of locationĒ disconnection notice. You can still use the app to go to your account and opt in to Mobile Priority data. In a few minutes the Internet access is turned back on. For no disconnect simply opt-in before leaving the last land hex.
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Old 09-07-2023, 23:13   #7
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Re: Satellite phone for Weather Data.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChaikaIII View Post
I am sailing my boat from the UK to the Canaries next month and considering what to do for weather data across Biscay and down from Portugal to the Canaries.

Iím guessing my three choices are to buy an Iridium Go Exec package (very expensive), rent an Iridium Go Exec or get a Starlink system. My question is does the Starlink system work well across Biscay etc, will I need an external ariel, will I need the marine version or will the RV system work well at sea. How easy is it to buy Starlink in the UK.

If I go Iridium Go will I need an external ariel?

Thanks for your help guys.

Paul Barnett
You say you just want it for weather.
My recent experience.
I bought an Iridium Go in February and also subscribed to Predictwind for a year.
Based on the Predictwind advice I subscribed to Iridium about 10 days before heading back to the boat so as to get a bit of 'hands on'.
I had bought the external antenna kit but that was going to be a massive drama to fit in the short window between rejoining and sailing.
On passage I just took the Iridium Go up into the cockpit and sat it in the shade.

Downloading weather wasn't all that slow ( define 'slow ) but the route planning was. Wx can be sped up by only picking a couple of the 'models' rather than downloading the lot.
Used the position reporting function and also a couple of short emails each day in and out.
Canceled the Iridium bit when we laid her up in mid May so only paid for 2 months.

Will use a new sim to get it all going again in the Austral spring

I found it pretty good.

Predictwind bit on youtube here
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Old 10-07-2023, 01:26   #8
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Re: Satellite phone for Weather Data.

Thanks Everyone for your information. We have a two week trip across Biscay and another 2weeks from Lagos to Lanzarote. (about 5-6 days each trip but allowing time for weather window).

Hopefully if the wife agrees then we will sail from the Canaries to the Cape Verde then on to the Carrbbean in 2024. I will look at renting an Iridium Go for 4 weeks but potentially buying something will be cheaper if the long term plans come off.
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Old 10-07-2023, 10:23   #9
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Re: Satellite phone for Weather Data.

FXYKTY Can you provide a link to this information please?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fxykty View Post
That is not correct. With the RV-Regional service you can use any land hex in your continent and any ocean hex in your continent with the Mobile Priority data opt-in. With the RV-Global plan you can use any land and ocean hex anywhere, with the same requirement to opt-in to Mobile Priority data for ocean hexes.

If you donít opt-in before entering the first ocean hex then your Internet access is cut off and the Starlink app shows an ďout of locationĒ disconnection notice. You can still use the app to go to your account and opt in to Mobile Priority data. In a few minutes the Internet access is turned back on. For no disconnect simply opt-in before leaving the last land hex.
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Old 10-07-2023, 12:14   #10
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Re: Satellite phone for Weather Data.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gudgeon View Post
One of my concerns is the marine plans are quite a bit more, if you have an RV systen will they geo fence your system making it inoperble off shore.
This is not correct. People have crossed oceans using the standard dish and mobile plan (it is officially called mobile now not roam).

When offshore in an "ocean" hex (black hexes on availability map) you need to pay $2/GB.

The standard dish is officially not supported for use in motion although it does work but the dish and plan are seperate. You can use regional/global mobile ($150/$200) using the high performance dish as well.

There is essentially zero reason to buy the 50 GB Priority Mobile (it is called Prioritity Mobile not Maritime now) plan for 99% of users.
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Old 10-07-2023, 12:57   #11
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Re: Satellite phone for Weather Data.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Statistical View Post
This is not correct. People have crossed oceans using the standard dish and mobile plan (it is officially called mobile now not roam).

When offshore in an "ocean" hex (black hexes on availability map) you need to pay $2/GB.

The standard dish is officially not supported for use in motion although it does work but the dish and plan are seperate. You can use regional/global mobile ($150/$200) using the high performance dish as well.

There is essentially zero reason to buy the 50 GB Priority Mobile (it is called Prioritity Mobile not Maritime now) plan for 99% of users.
AFAIK, there is only one use case for the 50GB Priority plan, and it isn't obvious so it is worth mentioning.

You can subscribe to the 50GB plan, and NOT opt in for the $2/GB. So, you get priority ocean data, and after 50GB, it shuts off with no further charges. You can then enable the $2/GB if you want, but otherwise you know exactly what your monthly bill will be.

If on mobility without the 50GB priority, but with $2/GB, that first 50GB is the same price. But you might get surprised with a $500 (or even much more) bill when you use more data than you planned to.
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Old 10-07-2023, 13:04   #12
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Re: Satellite phone for Weather Data.

Quote:
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AFAIK, there is only one use case for the 50GB Priority plan, and it isn't obvious so it is worth mentioning.

You can subscribe to the 50GB plan, and NOT opt in for the $2/GB. So, you get priority ocean data, and after 50GB, it shuts off with no further charges. You can then enable the $2/GB if you want, but otherwise you know exactly what your monthly bill will be.

If on mobility without the 50GB priority, but with $2/GB, that first 50GB is the same price. But you might get surprised with a $500 (or even much more) bill when you use more data than you planned to.
If the 50GB only worked offshore that might be useful the more likely scenario is you signup use 50GB in marina/coastal and then have no service when you need it. End result you likely just paid $50 to $100 more for nothing and still have to pay $2/GB offshore or have no internet.

The only scenario it might kinda make sense is if someone is never in coastal waters or they have seperate internet arrangements in coastal waters.
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Old 10-07-2023, 13:06   #13
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Re: Satellite phone for Weather Data.

Statistical agree with you that people have crossed ocean with the "RV" plan.
I know a number tht have recieved messages say they or out of their plan limits. I think it is only a matter of time before starlink geo fences the systems to their plan area. What will they consider costal versus off shore is the million dollar question. I would not want to loose access mid ocean.The Mobile regional and global do allow for ocean purchase of data by the gig. Not sure of the cost. Do you need to set this up in davance? The only plan that is not listed as land use is the Mobile priority 50 gig at $250 a month.
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Old 10-07-2023, 13:09   #14
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Re: Satellite phone for Weather Data.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gudgeon View Post
Statistical agree with you that people have crossed ocean with the "RV" plan.
I know a number tht have recieved messages say they or out of their plan limits. I think it is only a matter of time before starlink geo fences the systems to their plan area. What will they consider costal versus off shore is the million dollar question. I would not want to loose access mid ocean.The Mobile regional and global do allow for ocean purchase of data by the gig. Not sure of the cost. Do you need to set this up in davance? The only plan that is not listed as land use is the Mobile priority 50 gig at $250 a month.
They already do geofence thing just not the way you think. There already is a defined definition for land vs ocean. The first thing is there is no "RV" it is mobile which includes any mobile usage not just RVs. Regional Mobile is Regional Mobile not "Regional only can be used by RVs Mobile".

Quote:
What areas are considered land vs ocean under the Mobile Plans?
Land: All areas labeled as "Available", "Waitlist", or "Coming Soon" on the Starlink Availability Map are considered land regions. Regional Mobile plans can be used on land within your continent (see continent map), while Global Mobile plans can be used on land anywhere Starlink has service around the world.

Ocean: All areas colored as black on the Starlink Availability Map are considered ocean regions, including islands unless they are labeled "Available", "Waitlist", or "Coming Soon". Only Mobile Priority Data can be used on the ocean, including on these unlabeled islands. Use in local territorial waters, is contingent on government approval.
There are two ways to get Mobile Priority Data. Have a Mobile Priority Data plan (i.e. the 50GB "maritime" plan) or pay as you go $2/GB as needed on a Regional/Global Mobile plan. The Mobile plans by default don't have service in ocean hexes because they have unlimited Mobile Data not Mobile Priority Data BUT you can opt in $2/GB as needed and get the same service pay as you go for the much more expensive "maritime" plans.

Keep in mind it isn't opt in for ocean use. It is opt in for priority data. Everything used anywhere in the world under all circumstances is charged. So opt in for $2/GB and sit in the Marina using 100GB and you will get a $200 bill on top of your normal service plan cost.

Similarly the "maritime" plans aren't 50GB of "ocean usage". It is just 50GB of included priority data which is always used first. Exactly the same as Regional and Global Mobile just with an initial allocation of 50GB of priority data. The 50 GB is used first though so if you use 50 GB sitting in a Marina it is gone and even on a "maritime" plan you will need to do the same opt in pay as you $2/GB for coverage in the ocean.

Just to add some confusion SpaceX recently indicated Mobile Data (not to be confused with Mobile Priority Data) plans can't be used in motion as speeds >10 mph. No evidence they are enforcing that yet but that likely is more a problem for power yachts than small sailing vessels.
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