Use of Airmail from a sailboat in foreign territorial waters - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 3 Old 02-28-2012 Thread Starter
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Cool Use of Airmail from a sailboat in foreign territorial waters

I am looking for a clear answer regarding the need for reciprocal HAM licenses from the countries where you sail when you use Airmail or Winlink (WL2K) software on your boat to get/transmit emails or weather reports on your HAM radio aboard.
Are cruisers who use these systems truly making the cost and time efforts ($30 to $90 per license) and (2 to 3 month delays in many cases) before departure to get such reciprocal licenses from Mexico, the Bahamas and other countries ?
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post #2 of 3 Old 02-28-2012
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Yes, cruisers go to the trouble. You need a reciprocal license to transmit, not to receive weather faxes. The smaller the country the harder to get. Assuming you are a US ham in the EU you simply need a piece of paper published in German, French and English and your US license. Its called a CEPT license.

Maritime Mobile Operation in International Waters

International Operating

If you are operating from many foreign countries with short stays the solution is to use Sailmail rather than Airmail. Since Sailmail operates on the Marine frequencies you don't need a reciprocal license. You will have to pay the Sailmail annual fee but it is likely to be less than all of the reciprocal license fees.

Also, if you use Airmail remember that there is both a web option and an internet Telnet option to pick up and send mail. This way you can eliminate the need to turn on your transmitter.

It is really part of the "clean wake" mentality. Odds are you will not get caught if you transmit. You will meet people who blow it off. But it is a foreign country, you are their guest, and they get to make the rules.

Personally if I intend to stay somewhere for a month or two I go to the trouble to get the license. Otherwise I use the internet or go for a day sail outside the territorial waters.

Last edited by svzephyr44; 02-28-2012 at 10:39 PM.
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post #3 of 3 Old 02-29-2012
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Hi Jean Marc,

Below is what I posted to answer your question on the Airmail listserv.

I've walked an application for reciprocal licenses through the Bahamas in Nassau and the BVI in Roadtown in a day. By mail it takes quite a while.

Re: Use of Airmail from a sailboat in foreign territorial waters

--- In, "jmpapon" wrote:
> I am planning to travel on our sailboat beyond US or international
> waters in foreign territorial waters, such as the Bahamas, Turks and
> Caicos and other countries.
> Do I need to get reciprocal HAM licenses from these other countries
> simply to use Airmail from my boat?

Hello Jean Marc,

You can read a good summary of the requirements and limitations here:
International Operating . In short, the International
Amateur Radio Union (IARU), of which the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) is a
member has helped to provide for some very helpful reciprocity. One agreement,
CEPT, covers reciprocity for US licensees in most European countries. Another,
IARP, covers reciprocity throughout much of the Americas. A small number of
countries, such as Canada, have specific bilateral agreements with the United
States. Some countries including three you mentioned--Bahamas, Turks & Caicos,
and Mexico--require application for issuance of a reciprocal license.

CEPT covers a number of the French islands in the Caribbean as well as France.
Note that there are two classes of reciprocity based on your US license class.
You must have an Extra or Advanced class US license for reciprocity with France
and its possessions.

IARP covers only a few common cruising destinations.

You can look at the requirements for individual countries here
Reciprocal Permit .

> Are requests for weather reports and faxes on Airmail considered as
> transmissions on amateur frequencies?

Well that depends on just what you mean. If you use the catalog in Airmail or
the GRiB request screen then your request goes out as an e-mail which obviously
requires transmission and so is not appropriate without a reciprocal license. If
you are using the GetFax module of Airmail to simply receive a weather fax no
transmission is required on your part and you can continue to use that function
without a reciprocal license. The same applies to receiving text forecasts and
other safety information using Navtex. You can also listen to the voice nets and
voice weather transmissions.

Just for completeness all of this applies to the reciprocity for amateur radio
(ham) licenses only. Marine station and operating licenses have reciprocity
among all maritime nations as far as I know under International Maritime
Organization (IMO) agreements.

When I spend a few weeks in the Bahamas I don't bother to get a license. Once I
am within Bahamas territorial waters (12 mile limit) I stop transmitting. I
continue to listen to the Waterway Net on 7268 kHz LSB and to receive weather
fax and Navtex. This year we're heading down to the BVI for a bit longer so I'll
probably get a reciprocal license.

I hope this is helpful to you.

73 es sail fast de dave KO4MI
S/V Auspicious

sail fast and eat well, dave S/V Auspicious

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