I have done a few articles on these and use both on deliveries, so here is my real world experience.
Both have good coverage- the inReach is better for tracking (web page and optional box to allow visitors to text) and the texts are almost as fast as cell phones. As a result, I can have a 'text conversation' with my wife- great for the relationship. Especially south of about 32 degrees latitude in the Northern Hemisphere, a gap develops between the polar orbiting Iridium satellites. Unless you have an antenna
at the top of the mast
, there are dead zones. Instinctively, as you get further south, I doubt that height will cover the gaps. There are several websites that show the coverage, they are worth a look. To compensate for this I use an app called iWatchSat. The app has a moving model of the Iridium satellite network and shows your position. By waiting 2-3 minutes until coverage 'starts' you can download almost anything you need during a good coverage period.
Power and usability- On a delivery
, the inReach is mounted to a handhold, or other location close to the cabin
roof- inside. It is then plugged into a 12vDC source and left alone. This works on every boat
I have moved, except for a Hallberg-Rassy. HRs have glass that is so thick, the inReach cannot get out. For them, I place it behind the hard dodger
The GO is only powered up twice a day for weather downloads and email
checks. I have a 5" stubby antenna
with a magnetic baser and a separate magnet I purchased. The antenna is placed on top of the Bimini
and held in place by the magnet. Simple and effective! If you were only using a GO, it would need to be inside, and an antenna run outside.
Both are connected to my I-devices. The inReach is blue-toothed to my iPhone
so I can see texts, and check status of tracking. The GO is connected to my iPad
and on longer runs, I bring a MacBook. Since the GO uses wifi- I can connect to multiple devices.
Sharing- can't help
Billing- I just get the unlimited plan. To me the worst thing would be needing to text, call, or download weather and be out of data.
Quality of Voice coverage- candidly on the stubby antenna the call quality is MEH. But I have arranged support via texts and email
. Do NOT underestimate the power of being able to send an e-mail from the vessel. I have seen on more than one occasion it carries almost as much weight as a phone
Your last bullet question- I use the GO on deliveries to download GRIBs. Transatlantic aside- before leaving the dock
I download a GRIB of the currents. At the dock
I download an 'all option' 16 day GFS model. After the routing software
does its magic, and we depart, I download 5 day wind
only updates for the area we will be sailing. I then re-run the routing model using our updated location and new GRIB. On a FtLaud to BVI
run, I will stop downloading the weather data for the area behind me, thereby reducing file size. To see the big picture, separately, I download a 10-15 day pressure only GRIB of the US from 37N 99W to 10N 60W. I will play with the number of days to keep the size of the file reasonable.
While Predict Wind
is a great product, and is still on my computer- I find myself using Luck GRIB more and more.
As a delivery
'captain' who people trust with their boats, I want to best data available, so I have the GO. Likewise, if you are doing long passages, you should invest in the GO.
If all you want is summaries for coastal cruising, save your money
and use an inReach.