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post #11 of 92 Old 09-15-2006
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"the thing to do is to use your cellphone consistently during any cruise."

How far offshore has anyone successfully used a cell phone, without an external amplifier or external antenna?

I'm told the cell tower system will allow distances of up to 32 miles (it actually tolerates the signal turnaround time delay needed by that much distance, it doesn't know miles per se) but in practice, I've been on a boat where we played "Who's got two bars?" with a couple of carriers and phones and at 3-3.5 miles from shore (towers known to be on water towers somewhere a little further in) it seemed like calls were just at the threshold of dropping.
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post #12 of 92 Old 09-15-2006
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PaulK-

Most cell phone plans don't have free minutes...so using them just to prove I wasn't leaving the country is really not my idea of a good way to spend money.

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post #13 of 92 Old 09-15-2006
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"Most cell phone plans don't have free minutes"
You serious? There are four major carriers in the US, at least three of them offer free nights and weekends, and at the biggest two offer unlimited free calls to anyone else on the same network. Heck, I know someone with a prepaid phone who even gets free weekend minutes and free calls to anyone else on his carrier!
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post #14 of 92 Old 09-15-2006
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While there are some interesting and valid questions being presented here I would like to include some information that may disturb some folks. If you are boating along the East Coast, the waters are filled with devices that listen to and identify your vessel (if you venture out more than about 10 miles or so). These tracking devices can pinpoint not only your location but the route you took. This is in addition to radar identification by Coast Guard patrols, etc.

This also applies to general aviation. As long as you are not taking any type of evasive action or erratic flying, you will constantly be in contact with one Center or another. You will also have filed a flight plan. Deviation of your flight plan without notifying ATC, particularly if an international border might be involved, could result in a serious violation.
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post #15 of 92 Old 09-15-2006
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Originally Posted by hellosailor
"Most cell phone plans don't have free minutes"
You serious? There are four major carriers in the US, at least three of them offer free nights and weekends, and at the biggest two offer unlimited free calls to anyone else on the same network. Heck, I know someone with a prepaid phone who even gets free weekend minutes and free calls to anyone else on his carrier!
I'm not talking about nights and weekends. Nights don't really help anyone, as they start at 9:00 pm for most companies and end at 7:00 am, missing the prime time to be awake and out sailing. Weekend minutes, free or not still don't account for the fact that you need to a) have the battery life on the phone, and b) have someone to talk to for that time. I'd rather be sailing. Also, cell reception in a lot of the waters I sail is flaky at best... you must sail only within sight of a major metro area if you're able to get good reception on your boat the whole time you're sailing it.

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—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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post #16 of 92 Old 09-15-2006
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Fridge, the listening devices listen mainly for engine noises. Passive acoustic arrays and sailboats don't always work out well, case in point being how every few years either a whale or a submarine has an "incident" with a sailboat. In fact, when the USCG Notice to Mariners used to be mainly a print publication, the annual master guide in Distrcit #1 gave special extensive warnings about submarine "surfacing" warnings. (Like, if you're up by Groton or New London or the approaches leading in from the ocean, and a smoke pot or bouy pops up, BUG OUT OF THE AREA.)
Similarly, the classified intelligence systems including the satellites, even if they are targeted on your area and even if they have shown your boat, WILL NEVER BE USED to give information about your boat. Several Senators, including Moynihan, tried to get sat photos used in the search for Coyote when she went missing in the North Atlantic some years ago. DoD refused, quite rightly saying that ANY information they released would compromise the capabilities of the system. That's still current policy, unless you've got Osama on board and you've missed your landfall, that gear does not exist.

Sailingdog-

I appreciate your point, especially about range. I'm curious to know what others have found. On the east US, with the ICW and I95 and the coastal cities, there ARE a lot of towers on the coast. And of course, there are very few foreign ports you can reach quickly enough to scoot back home and still make the 9PM-7AM free minutes. (ok 7PM for some Sprint users.) Let's see...14 hours of paid minutes, 7 hours each way to make a mad dash to another country....I guess you could only slip out for a fast passage to the Bahamas unless you had hydrofoils and a turbine engine hidden in the keel.
Not such a bad idea though, most plans run $40/300+ minutes often $40/500 minutes, and by making one or two 30-second calls during the day, a whole ten minutes of airtime during any given week, you COULD document your location, if you were worried about it.
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post #17 of 92 Old 09-15-2006
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Looks like we have gone from passport rules into cellphone electronics and political positions in the coming November elections. Did I miss something or do you think that maybe a new thread should have been startd?
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post #18 of 92 Old 09-16-2006
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i guess i do not understand the question - i brought my boat from Annapolis to Miami and was off shore from Cape Fear River to FLL - we often sail to the keys on the outside and do overnight passages from key west to miami and many time may be closer to the bahamas than the US. we pull in and put her in the slip and go home - we don't report to immigaration or anyone else.
When we do go to the bahamas then we report in as we must.
what is the difference from driving a car from North Carolina or Key West to Miami vs going via water --
help me understand please
chuck and soulmates
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post #19 of 92 Old 09-16-2006
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Chuck, you actually raise a very interesting question. There is a difference. Driving a car you are governed by the same regular laws of citizenship and imigration, but once you go to sea,. Billy, maritime law also enters into the mix. Maritime law is as archaic as Noah's ark. But there is some logic. When you drive a little deviation to pick up drugs, terrorist or weapons of mass destruction in international territory is `impossible. This is not the case when travalling by sea. When you travelled from Cape Fear to Florida you were probably outside the 12 mile limit and therefore should have checked in with Customs. Most people don't but that's the law. No one knows what exactly is going to happen once the new law comes into effect, but if you plan to go into or near international waters a passport or a "passport like document" may be necessary. Thanks again, Osama!!
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post #20 of 92 Old 09-16-2006
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ebs-
"When you travelled from Cape Fear to Florida you were probably outside the 12 mile limit and therefore should have checked in with Customs."
I DO appreciate that, but by the same logic then a flight from NY to FL would have to come through customs--as the the "fast" route down goes offshore south of Hatteras and even the inland route is allowed to be 50 miles offshore. (Commercial aircraft more than 50 miles offshore must carry different equipment, surprisingly enough the route you fly on any particular day may vary because of the particular aircraft making the trip.)

Now,before you say "Ah, but an aircraft is under the pilot's control..." Yes, but the pilot is just a Captain of a vessel. Same-same as a sailboat, legally.

I think you're only required to check in if you have visited another country--as opposed to having left US territorial waters, or the US "economic interest zone", 200 miles. For the same reason that commercial fisherman don't have to check in--if they haven't been in another country.
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