Bill, clicking on the word "ssb" above worked fine. It's an interesting thread. I have a steel boat (one giant ground plane) and am leaning toward the "stock solution" of a Icom M-802 plus AT-140 tuner plus Pactor III modem, because a lot of people know how to deal with it, and because I intend to rely heavily on SailMail for work and dealing with my child's school while we're away. Mind you, I did seriously look at a Kenwood TS-50S at a friend's recommendation (Ken Goodings, a veteran radio guy about to head south...don't recall his call sign).
The antenna I haven't quite sussed out. I figured I would put the rig and the tuner in the aft cabin "office", and put the antenna through a gland in the deck, and then I would hoist an antenna between the two stern quarter backstays using the topping lift or a new rigged line to the mast top. A vertical dipole would work as well.
Frankly, I haven't thought much about this stuff since I played with CBs as a teenager 30 years ago and erected my own directional antenna tower, but I think I still grasp the concepts.
Good thread. We will definitely have the SSB for the community aspect and for the very simple reason that I can work the ship from the pilothouse while talking and listening on SSB... I can't do that while typing on a keyboard. Also, I find the economy of getting weatherfaxes and GRIB files and other radio-received data appealing. Naturally, when in the anchorage or when running coastal, it might be possible to use cell phones, but in my mind they are differently purposed technologies.
Lastly, having a sat phone/cell phone/WiFi card plus an SSB follows the same logic that rejects a single screen radar/chartplotter/AIS/depthfinder, etc. You want, to a degree, options on a boat, and if I dropped the satphone...that would be it until I got within 15 miles of land and could use VHF...assuming I have international frequencies!