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Kacper 04-20-2007 12:41 AM

Satellite Phone
Hey guys,

I'm headed across the Atlantic May 17th from New York. (NY->Azores->England) With a full crew on a 46' custom built Ketch, to get some open Ocean sailing experience before I try it out myself on our planned trip down south in the Bayfield in September :)

Can one of you guys fill me in on the whole Satellite Phone deal? I'm considering bringing one along. The skipper does not have one. It would be nice to be in contact with land and keep my worried girlfriend updated on the state of my longevity :) (no pun intended)

Get it ? Longevity? Longitutde? ahahahaahaha.

No seriously, please tell me about satellite phones, I am looking at a few online and so far I see most services will rent you phones for about $15 a week average.

How does it work? Has anyone used them?


sailingdog 04-20-2007 07:57 AM

I've used the Intelsat Mini-M, B-terminal and the Iridium type phones.

I would recommend you get an Iridium-type phone. The Iridium type phones are by and far the easiest to use and the most compact, being a bit bigger than a cell phone in size. Iridium has pretty good coverage, except at the poles, in highly mountainous areas and heavily forested areas... so you should be pretty good to go. The airtime is rather expensive, so keep the calls short. :D

Also, IIRC, the use of a satellite phone within the CONUS borders is illegal unless you have a waiver from the FCC. This was true when I was doing a lot of work with satellite phones about six years ago, getting them prepped for journalists going abroad in Croatia, Bosnia, Afghanistan and such, and I had to get a waiver letter from the FCC, but this may have changed... I seriously doubt it though. Just FYI.

camaraderie 04-20-2007 09:51 AM

Iridium is really the only reasonable choice. Let me know if you find one for anything close to $15 a I am seeing 40-60 bucks a week and $2/minute air time.

Kacper 04-20-2007 02:08 PM

Wow - Thanks for the advice. I'll go with the Iridium. Looks more expensive, but I think I can split the cost with some of the other crew members who want to use it.

Does anyone know how to get one locally - I'm in Canada and most of these rental places are US based. Do they ship them to you anywhere you go?

sailingdog 04-20-2007 02:42 PM

You could always have it shipped to the marina, where you're getting aboard the boat, or to the local American Express office in NYC... AMEX is good about that if you have an AMEX card... ;)

BTW, the Iridiums are by and far the easiest to use, since with the B-terms, you generally have to setup the antenna and then aim it... the Mini-M series has a single-piece antenna that just needs to be aimed as well, but generally it is already put together.

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