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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 12-30-2008
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Offshore Communications

Is it still reccomended to install a SSB or do most folks just take along Sat Phones these days?
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Old 12-30-2008
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Things you can do with your SSB: listen to or participate in the various daily cruiser nets, download weather information and listen to forecasts, and send and receive text email. You can also make a general broadcast for help on it without knowing who might be out there to hear you.
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Old 12-30-2008
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Yes and yes.

Many find as I do that SSB is still the favored mode for long-distance communications due to it's versatility for both voice and data communications on the marine and ham bands. There are many hundreds of stations on the marine bands and literally millions on the ham bands worldwide. Thus, if you know how to use the radio, and if it's well installed, you'll always be able to make contact.

Sat phones are useful, too. They are point-to-point, however, meaning that the only person who can hear you is the one you're talking to. That's useful sometimes (for private or business communications), and sometimes not (e.g., in certain emergency situations). Prices vary widely. The system with most coverage -- virtually worldwide -- is Inmarsat, but it's pricey. Less costly but less reliable and with less coverage is Globalstar, which has been having trouble with it's current constellation of LEO satellites. Still, like me, some find it's useful if you have some backup (like SSB) for emergency and other communications. And, one hopes, Globalstar can hang on long enough to get their new "hardened" satellites up next year.

What you choose depends on your communications needs and your cruising plans, as well as on your wallet.

Bill
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Old 12-30-2008
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Ideally, you'd want both. However, some people get along without either of the two.
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As Bill says...it all depends. You can happily exist coastal cruising and in the Bahamas with only a VHF and cell phone connections or wifi for all your info and communications needs. Once you get out beyond the USA and close in destinations, then I think the SSB begins to be more of a necessity but if I had to CHOOSE one thing to take across an ocean it would be an Irridium phone for communication in an emergency AND for downloading test/weather. I would also carry a portable shortwave radio so I could listen to the nets without needing to communicate.
We lost our mast and thus the SSB in Ivan/Grenada and our Globalstar phone was our lifeline for two weeks as well as one for many other cruisers so I am perhaps a bit biased in favor of the emergency use of satphones.
One of my buddies lost his Ham Rig along with his mast as well but had a new jury rig antenna up and running in a day so I guess I am inclined to say you need one or the other when you are off the grid and I personally prefer the satphone as you can fit it in the life raft!
Having an SSB/Ham rig is a lot more fun though!!!
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Old 12-31-2008
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I think that I will add sat phone and SSB to my shopping list. After reading a very involved thread on the topic (active last March), I think that I am going to go for the icom M710 (read about problems with the M802), backstay antenna and I'll get progressively more aggressive on creating a counterpoise. I would like to start with some copper foil and a couple of through hulls. My boat has too many holes in it already for me to start with a grounding plate. I don't think that I can use the grounding plate that my loran ties into, can I?

Note - We will be crusing east coast, bermuda and caribbean.
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FWIW...I have owned both the 710 and the 802. I think the 802 problems have been solved at this point and I had NONE and really liked the radio...but both are good units. Trayfors is an excellent resource here as you think about your installation. Use him!!
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I hope the 802s are cheaper this year at the boat show...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KindOfBlue View Post
Is it still reccomended to install a SSB or do most folks just take along Sat Phones these days?
H.F. is not going to ever go away, for a number of reasons. Number One, being, it requires no infrastructure to work. Satellite systems require uplinks, downlinks, and the satellites themselves...all of which are incredibly vulnerable. For the same reason, LORAN has received funding through the next decade....GPS satellites CAN and DO go down.

Eric
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what is the advantage of the 802 over the 710 or 700 if all you do is listen to weather, talk on cruisers nets and want to be able to contact help in an emergency?
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