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Old 04-02-2008, 01:30   #1
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Sailmail ?

We are planning a passage from the UK to Greece via Biscay this spring. I've been looking at Sailmail as a means of keeping in touch and for weather updates. Is Sailmail the best option to consider? Are there any other packages that would do the job? Has anyone any experience of using Sailmail in the north eastern Atlantic or the Med? Is reception good?

Any tips or comments would be much appreciated.

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Old 04-02-2008, 01:46   #2
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Excerpted from the SailMail Primer page at: SailMail Primer

We will be sailing from X to Y. Will SailMail provide adequate coverage?

The short answer is yes. SailMail has stations scattered around the world. Members with good radio installations and who are reasonably clever at picking times, stations, and frequencies have used SailMail from everywhere in the world that you can take a boat. The longer answer follows:

Each SailMail station is easily used at ranges out to 4000 miles, and is useful at ranges out to 8000 or more if you have a good radio, tuner, and ground installation, if you use a PTC-II modem, and if there are no nearby sources of interference. It also helps if you are reasonably skilled at choosing the best station, time, and frequency.

You may find it helpful to download, install, and use the propagation program for Airmail from the download page on the SailMail website. But remember that it is only a computer projection, so use it as a guide but not as the "bible". As you sail around the world and your location relative to SailMail stations slowly changes, you will get pretty knowledgeable about picking times, stations, and frequencies. Comparing notes to other SailMail users that you run across will also help you pick times, stations, and frequencies.

SailMail Stations map:
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Old 04-02-2008, 04:00   #3
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I can't help you with an evaluation of Sailmail's performance in the area you're going to be cruising, but it did work reasonably well for me in the eastern US and eastern Caribbean. Be sure to download and use the propagation software. Different stations work better or worse, depending on the time of day.
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Old 04-02-2008, 07:22   #4
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Sailmail (and roughly equivalent Winlink) worked fine for me in the Eastern Atlantic (Ragnerok, North Sea, and English Channel). I haven't used it in the Med but I know many people have.

You definitely want to have the propagation software loaded. Make sure the lat/long for your own position is correct; the software will keep track of the Sailmail stations.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:50   #5
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C'Hook...I was a very satisfied sailmail user a couple of years bak in the Caribe. It is a very robust and well supported service and will do the job for text e-mails and weather.
Having said that...even if you already have an SSB/Ham setup, you will be investing over 1000 bucks in a pactor JUST for text only E-MAIL (you can get weather fax etc. from your radio without pactor). Plus it costs $250 bucks a year for the sailmail service..10 minutes of text e-mails a day.
If I had to do it over again...I would not get either the pactor or the sailmail as there are many other options today (we/fax software,sat phones, wifi in harbors, internet cafes, cell phones near shore). For a coastal Euro trip of limited duration I would suggest you look at some of the other options for your weather and internet needs.
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