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post #15 of Old 03-15-2008
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The subject of marine SSB vs. ham (amateur radio) has been covered exhaustively on other boards, including the SSCA board.

A few pertinent facts (not opinions):

1. you cannot legally use a ham radio on marine SSB frequencies or CB or anything other than ham-allocated frequencies for which you are licensed except in an extreme (life-threatening) emergency;

2. most modern ham rigs can be made to work on virtually any HF frequency, including marine SSB frequencies (but, as noted in #1 above) it is illegal to use them there unless in an extreme emergency;

3. ham radio transceivers are also SSB, that is, they use single sideband emissions just as do marine SSB transceivers. It's just that in the common parlance, "SSB" has come to mean "marine SSB";

4. a ham license authorizes you to operate on the allocated ham bands according to the class of license you have, and nowhere else;

5. a marine radio license (station license for the boat plus an operator's license for each person operating the radio) authorizes you to use a type-accepted marine radio (not a ham radio) on the authorized marine channels only, and nowhere else;

6. modern ham rigs are often more flexible than marine rigs, having much more frequency agility and many more controls including DSP, IF shift, noise blankers, bandpass adjustments, etc., etc.; and

7. VHF and HF radios transmit signals which can be heard by many stations, including nearby boats. Satphones can contact only the person(s) called, therefore limiting their effectiveness in many emergency situations.

Now for the opinions:

1. For the far-ranging cruising sailor, many experienced sailors believe firmly that an SSB -- marine or ham -- is an essential piece of equipment; and

2. A satellite phone is not an acceptable substitute, since you are limited to point-to-point communications as per #7 above.

S/V Born Free

Last edited by btrayfors; 03-15-2008 at 06:07 PM.
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