Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Oslo, Norway
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On my sailing last year, from Oslo, Norway to the Bay of Biscay, where I lost my ship in a towing (the ship that was towing my ship lost it), I had an Iridium sat-phone and a NASA HF receiver for getting the weather forecasts (RTTY). That is downloading GRIB-files with the sat phone, in the cases where there were no Internet facilities in the harbours. And of course a VHF transceiver for coastal radio traffic and weather forecasts.
I found the establishing of contact with the Iridium system cumbersome and fragile, and expensive. The speed was usually around 7200 baud. Still possible to download GRIB files.
This spring I decided to take the LRC license. That is license to use the maritime bands with a HF-transceiver. During the course I was following to pass the LRC license I was made aware that many maritime band transceivers also would operate on amateur bands provided one has a radio amateur licence. So, since I would buy a HF-transceiver for the maritime band in any case, I could as well take the amateur licence and thus use the transceiver in its full capacities. It seems to me that the smart thing is to have both licences.
So I decided to take the amateur lisence. I must admit that entering the world of Ham radio enthusiasts was quite a bit of cultural shock to me, but they are very kind and helpful towards a beginner like me. Right now I am trying to comprehend antenna magic and discussing in a forum, much like this one, about the pros and cons of using the back-stay of the boat as an antenna, together with an automatic tuner.
Now the good thing to be said about the ICOM M802, at least in my case, is that it has made the ICOM M710 affordable. So far I have been able to buy the M710 transceiver and the MJH 949E manual tuner for less than $ 1000 from the ham radio members of the NRRL (Norwegian equivalent of the ARRL).
Having an amateur licence also gives access to a global organisation of ham radio operators.
Finally I agree with camaraderie that if one have to leave the ship, a sat phone would be very nice and useful, as well as a handheld VHF, just in case one had the opportunity to activate the EPIRB.
Use your head, ram the wall till it falls.