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flyingwelshman 10-19-2009 05:01 PM

SPOT - Satellite Personal Tracker
I just picked up a SPOT (Satellite Personal Tracker).

If it works as advertised it will be a great way to stay in touch with the family back home (I just began single-handing this summer and am already planning a big trip for next year that will involve a lot of solo sailing).

I have read a lot of reviews of the product. (Of course I read these after I had bought my unit). Many of the reviews say that the service is inconsistent and there are areas where the satellite coverage is not so good. One area that was mention was Northern Georgian Bay. This is the area in which I plan to be sailing! It seemed that most of the problems where due to overhead obstructions (trees).

Does anyone have any experience with this unit on a boat?

Does anyone use one in Northern Lake Huron (South of Manitoulin and in the North Channel) or Georgian Bay? Any issues with satellite reception?

I tried a "Check-in/OK" message from home last night. It worked very well. It put me about 10 feet from where I sent the message. The link to Google Maps is pretty cool.

Anyhow, any feedback will be appreciated.

dave6330 10-19-2009 05:09 PM

We used a SPOT coming accross the Gulf of Alaska and experienced a 'break in service' after leaving Elfin Cove. Not sure if it was the unit, comms, or operator error but for a big chunk of the trip accross, we were not transmitting when we thought we were. Picked up again South of Montegue Island. We'll try 'er again on our next outing and see... the mean time, the jury is out.


rikhall 10-19-2009 05:16 PM

We have one, use it a lot and love it. For the price, it is a super way to keep family and friends informed as to where you are. It has worked for us:

East coast from MD to Newfoundland.


huguley3 10-19-2009 07:01 PM

I picked one up awhile back. It works but it seems very sensitive to obstructions. Pretty much needs a clear line of site to the sky to get a signal. It would sometimes work in the boat but to be reliable it needed to be outside.

It seems more geared to hiking as if you look at your course on a map there are lots of areas missing when its in spotcasting mode. But then if you were covering a lot of area you may not really care that your course is there in such detail.

West has them on sale for $80 now so if I had waited I could have saved myself $70.

scottyt 10-19-2009 07:57 PM

hugley not only are they on sale at 80, they come with paper work for a 30 west marine card.... i just bought one. so it will cost 150 for the year including the service

BarryL 10-19-2009 09:35 PM

New vs Old

Did you get the old or new spot? In case you were not aware, there is a new unit.

The old unit is the "Spot Personal Tracker" and the new unit is the "SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger"

I don't know that much about the new unit other than what I found in this press release:

SPOT Unveils Next Generation Satellite GPS Messenger at Outdoor Retailer

Good luck,

flyingwelshman 10-19-2009 10:12 PM

Thanks for the replies.

I got the older version from West - I guess they are getting rid of the old ones to make room for the new ones.

I didn't sign up for the added package ($49.99/yr US) as I don't think I will use the 'Tack Progress' feature (it looks like it would be a battery pig).

I sent a 'Check-in/OK' message from a different location today. I had the unit on the dash of my car, turned it on, waited about 2 minutes and hit the 'OK' button. About a minute later the text message appeared on my phone. When I got home and checked my e-mail the Google Map showed me to be about 20 feet from where I had sent the signal. I think that's pretty good.

As long as I can get a signal in northern Lake Huron, I think this thing will work out well.


labatt 10-20-2009 08:16 AM

You can watch ours live right now... go to our blog at s/v Pelican - Following A Dream and click on the "Follow Us" link on the right... We left from Albany,NY today and are on our way down to Baltimore...

sailingdog 10-20-2009 10:10 AM

Read this post I wrote about the SPOT Messenger.

flyingwelshman 10-20-2009 10:33 AM


Originally Posted by sailingdog (Post 533930)
Read this post I wrote about the SPOT Messenger.

It looks as though you had good satellite coverage for your trip down the East Coast.
I decided not to activate the Tracking option because of the energy consumption issue you described.
It looks as though the unit operated as it was intended.
Did you experience any issues with the service or the equipment?

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