Thank you so very much for the detailed response. This is one of those things with which I need to become better educated. I figured we'll have more time to understand once we start to cruise. Right now, we just need to get going. I will opt for the Dragon 7400
I'm glad I could help.
Without knowing your complete circumstances, some quick thoughts:
- spend a bit of time understanding HF (SSB) radio propagation. Wikipedia is a good start. You might also try my webinars at Seven Seas U
. It isn't at all hard but will make your experience with your new radio much more pleasant.
- go through the help file in Airmail when you set up your Pactor modem. You'll want to set the levels properly. Not hard, and there are step by step instructions. Oh - when you set up Airmail, tell it that your modem is a IIusb. Airmail will accept that and later change it to IIpro. Leave it be. It will talk to the 7400 just fine.
- get the right cables. Gary at Dockside Radio can sort you out. If you're in the middle Chesapeake Bay I can help. You'll find my contact information on the Sailmail website.
- aside from some minor regulatory things you have to learn, there is NOTHING in the Technician and General class amateur radio exams you shouldn't know anyway to be a self-sufficient cruiser. Get the ARRL guides and take them with you. Get your ham license.
- join SSCA.
- don't leave the dock before understanding how to use the 802, 7400, and Airmail to receive weather fax. Weather information is a life safety issue.
- get off the dock. I don't mean to seem contradictory but too many people spend too long "getting ready" only to discover that their priorities, driven by books, magazines, and advice, are different than expected. There is no substitute for figuring out what is important for yourself.