HAM and SSB radio
I have my general HAM radio license. I haven''t been using it much, so I can''t remember exactly what the title is. How many of you liveaboards or cruisers out there use a HAM or SSB for voice or email communication? Are any of you in the Gulf of Mexico along the Texas coast? I plan to liveaboard in the next few years and am looking into brushing up my HAM skills and getting a better, more powerful radio if it looks like I would benefit while sailing in the Gulf, Florida Keys, and the Bahamas.
HAM and SSB radio
We use our SSB extensively for emails using the HAM network called Winlink (Go to www.winlink.org) for info. It is not cheap to set up the radio properly but the advantages far out weigh the cost. The biggest expense is of course the radio, followed by a modem with cables. The advantages are 1. Email, 2. the ability to request and receive weather faxes on demand and have them appear crystal clear with no noise and 3. Safty - many cruising nets on SSB, some in the HAM band. We recently used the SSB to relay messages between a vessel in distress (in the process of dismasting) to a land based operator in touch with the coast guard and a container ship. This was near the Bahamas. A Ham license isn''t necessary for the email or the safty aspects as you can use Sailmail (See www.sailmail.com and their excellent primer on onboard email) and in emergencies, any operator can use any frequency for assistance. But the Winlink request/reply feature is terrific.
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