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Navigation / Communication / Weather for Bahamas Cruise
Thanks to everyone who's given me great advice so far in planning a 6 week cruise to the Bahamas from Mobile, AL.
The question I have this time is on communications, weather info, and navigation since they all seem to bleed together.
I'm trying to minimize outfitting expenses for this trip - so, if for example, an SSB isn't required for this trip, I'm going to try to avoid it for now. That being said, we will not be skimping on the equipment we need to do it safely and properly.
So let's start with communications: I was originally thinking SSB for offshore communications, and using that to get weatherfax info while making passages and in the Bahamas. But, that's going to get pretty expensive for a transceiver and installation.
As an alternative - would renting a Satphone (Globalstar) suffice for emergencies? And would you think I'd need to rely on it for weather data as well? If so, what's the best method of getting weather data using a satphone, and what should I estimate my costs to be on that (#minutes/day)? This helps me decide satphone vs. SSB
I was thinking of a NavTex NX300 for receiving weather data (the range is said to be 200-400NM which should be ok for everything except maybe the passage through the Gulf to the Dry Tortugas and /or a shortwave receiver (like the Sony ICF-SW7600GR which has been mentioned in some other threads).
For navigation - I know about the Explorer chart book for the Bahamas. Is an electronic chart plotter something we should be considering? Or will we be ok with some paper chart in the Gulf, the Explorer chart books for the Bahamas, and fleshing that out with some electronic charts from NOAA on the laptop?
Just as an FYI, we do have a GPS (and a backup handheld), but its a basic one - nothing fancy.
Lastly -- Radar. We don't have it, and don't really need it in Mobile. For a trip like this, would you consider it an essential (or highly recommended) piece of safety equipment, or just a luxury we probably can do without?
Thanks for your suggestions, and feel free to chime in with anything else I neglected to consider.