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Old 14-06-2022, 15:02   #1
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Is there any point in keeping our SSB radio?

We have an ICOM M-802 SSB and an auto tuner 140. The system works well for voice comms, but we’ve never enabled the DSC capability and the Pactor modem that came with the boat stopped working a while ago. The only reason we’ve kept it is for emergency communications - we’re absolutely not interested in socialising with other boats on passage.

Now we’ve got some corrosion issues in the cables, so we need to spend some time and money to replace the wiring between the transceiver and the control head. This is a job I’ve been putting off for a while due to the really tight and awkward cable run.

We’ve used Iridium sat phones and most recently the Go with great success. These are super easy to use and very consistent, unlike the radio. And now that Starlink is getting more and more capable there soon won’t be any gaps in offshore comms.

Is there any reason to keep the SSB for safety comms for an offshore cruiser?
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Old 14-06-2022, 15:14   #2
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Re: Is there any point in keeping our SSB radio?

The only reason I could find to have / keep / get one would be doing something like the world ARC. Last I checked, it was still on their mandatory boat requirements.


Other than that, sat comms are a much better drop in replacement from where I sit.
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Old 14-06-2022, 16:46   #3
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Re: Is there any point in keeping our SSB radio?

We too have started using the Iridium Go! for weather and email. The SSB is now primarily used for checking in the various cruiser nets. I still like having the SSB and Pactor modem as a backup.
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Old 14-06-2022, 17:24   #4
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Re: Is there any point in keeping our SSB radio?

Fxykty I feel that way about my VHF. For coastal cruising my phone does everything we need. I can't even remember last time we used the VHF.
Cruising with friends, it seems we all just text each other.
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Old 14-06-2022, 17:27   #5
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Re: Is there any point in keeping our SSB radio?

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Originally Posted by Fore and Aft View Post
Fxykty I feel that way about my VHF. For coastal cruising my phone does everything we need. I can't even remember last time we used the VHF.
Cruising with friends, it seems we all just text each other.
Cheers


I never felt that way about the VHF until we spent time in south Florida. The never ending coast guard announcements, the mindless blabbing….etc.
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Old 14-06-2022, 18:02   #6
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Re: Is there any point in keeping our SSB radio?

We never even considered using ours (similar setup) for recent trans-Tasman crossing. Iridium Go was all we needed. As soon as we got to Opua, I pulled it out and put it on TradeMe. Not many interested parties, but someone did take it for $450.
I was surprised with the state of the wires, with rubber and connection plugs severely perished. I expected better from Icom.

I hardly ever turned the VHF on, going up and down the Queensland coast. It got too cluttered with day-boaters in their tinnies doing radio checks with VMR.

I received an email from Starlink this morning to say my unit is ready for shipping. I had registered with an Ozzie address. I have tried to change it to a NZ address but it won't let me. I'm not sure how I am going to handle this...
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Old 14-06-2022, 18:02   #7
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Re: Is there any point in keeping our SSB radio?

I agree with Sailmonkey. The CG announcements in Florida and TX have gotten out of hand.
I have an SSB though am not using it YET. However if it went tilt I wouldn’t spend much trying to fix it.
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Old 14-06-2022, 18:43   #8
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Re: Is there any point in keeping our SSB radio?

The thing is, foxy, that anything from selfish business practices (https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...rs-265449.html) to wars, to a lightening strike can take out sophisticated electronics. Electronics being inherently unstable anyway, to say nothing of the possibility of an on board water intrusion. But, there are so many radio hams all over the world who are equipped for emergency comms, that one of them could help you or get help for you from a Rescue Communication Center when your fancy stuff is down, in the event you might want it (illness or injury aboard, maybe?).



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Old 14-06-2022, 18:47   #9
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Re: Is there any point in keeping our SSB radio?

We have an M802 etc as well as an IridiumGo with an external antenna.

The latter generally works flawlessly, but not cheaply. That aside, I have heard it said that with an HF/SSB you can talk and listen to many people/boats at once whereas with satcoms, its generally point to point. In an emergency, the "many" thing can be important as is a question for simple but important information via a net. I have previously used the IGo and this forum for information while doing a passage, and it was amazing how helpful that capability was.

But timing can be better with a radio. Several years ago, the weather feed in the Sea of Cortez from "Geary" in Mulege via the Sonrisa net was significantly better (i.e. more accurate) than any of the PredictWind models. We never missed his weather summaries.

So I'm keeping the 802 even though it no longer often used.
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Old 14-06-2022, 18:49   #10
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Re: Is there any point in keeping our SSB radio?

Consider the SSB a back-up should your satphone or cellphone crap out. Depending on where and how you sail, and your personal details, perhaps you will decide you don't need a back-up. When I sail it's usually far from the possibility of cell or probability of VHF communications, so I'm keeping my SSB. But SSB is no longer required for most ocean racing, and some thought has gone into that decision. If it comes down to it, we ought to be able to sail without comms -- people did it for centuries before us.

I keep my VHF on because it's a safety aid, and not just for me. Cellphones are great, but if someone is in distress are they going to call your phone?

But I've been in situations where I used my SSB, VHF, and/or satphone to help boats in trouble, so perhaps I'm biased.
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Old 14-06-2022, 18:53   #11
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Re: Is there any point in keeping our SSB radio?

agree that HF is a dodo these days. iridium is so much better

but off on a little tangent : noticed various folk saying they do not maintain a listening watch on vhf while on passage. respectfully suggest it's worth the minor inconvenience of putting up with the mindless chatter in order to keep a safety watch for others who may need help.

around Oz there is not that much chatter on 16 anyway, and deep sea it's a no-brainer

cheers,
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Old 14-06-2022, 18:55   #12
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Re: Is there any point in keeping our SSB radio?

Quote:
But I've been in situations where I used my SSB, VHF, and/or satphone to help boats in trouble, so perhaps I'm biased.
_
Yes, same here, received medical information via a doctor ham, on a number of occasions; and one time, Jim facilitated a coastguard drop of medical supplies for a non ham who had an asthma issue and no meds. The nurse who attended him made the MayDay call.

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Old 14-06-2022, 19:24   #13
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Re: Is there any point in keeping our SSB radio?

Fundamentally (and this is why I don't understand people saying 'a satphone is better!) - it's a different system to a sat phone. A sat phone is point to point, while a radio is point to many - and there isn't any sat-based gear that replicates that. Whether or not that is important is up to you. I found it useful to ask on the nets the current state of anchorages etc, or ask for advice (I also have an inreach I use to text people with - having a mix of systems for redundancy helps me sleep better.)

At the start of covid, I was trapped in an anchorage in Mexico outside of cell range with around 9 other boats, and it was helpful checking into the SSB net every morning to see what was happening in the other anchorages and the cities - the other boat with SSB and I then relayed to the rest of the anchorage. This was back when no-one was sure if it was going to wipe out the human race or whatever and the rules/regulations were changing daily (if not hourly) so it was extremely handy.

It's also nice not having to rely on a commercial company with sim cards etc. It just works.
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Old 14-06-2022, 19:27   #14
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Re: Is there any point in keeping our SSB radio?

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Yes, same here, received medical information via a doctor ham, on a number of occasions; and one time, Jim facilitated a coastguard drop of medical supplies for a non ham who had an asthma issue and no meds. The nurse who attended him made the MayDay call.

Ann
I saw a lot of comms activity because for many of the Pacific Cup races (San Francisco to Hawaii) VALIS was the communications vessel (we were also racing). During the race I would run the SSB/VHF, and later the SSB/VHF/Satphone position-reporting net. When there were problems I would sometimes be the first to hear and I would occasionally relay or coordinate assistance, or on one occasion divert to rendezvous and deliver fuel and emergency rudder gear.

There are actually three Hawaii races happening semi-simultaneously (Singlehanded San Francisco to Kauai, and the Victoria to Maui), so we would often use the SSB to keep in touch, especially when we were all returning to the mainland. Stuff happens out there; rudders break, water tanks leak, people get sick or injured, one boat lost its keel, etc. If I was running the comms net on the return I would be in the thick of the coordination. I would provide comms relays to the Coast Guard, or occasionally work with the Pacific Seafarers Net (ham radio).

My experience helped me appreciate how much reliable comms can matter.
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Old 14-06-2022, 19:35   #15
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Re: Is there any point in keeping our SSB radio?

At this point if your not into it as a hobbyist its not worth it putting money into it.
Depending on where you are you can still get decent money for the setup, including the broken pactor.
You can get a garmin inreach and years of service with the proceeds as a backup to the go you have.
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