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Old 03-07-2012, 12:17 AM   #1
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HF radio or Satellite Phone?

As I kit out Gemma so that I can take her coastal cruising I'm getting mechanical, power, electronic etc systems rejuvenated and improved that have been neglected by the PO's.

Amongst other things I had a Raymarine VHF radio and remote (on the flybridge) system installed.* Gemma had two separate VHF radios that needed replacing - one on the helm, the other on the flybridge.* The advice I got at the time as I was spending quite a bit was that I could save some $$ by just having a single VHF with a remote that would work as well.

However subsequently I have had some qualms about only having a single radio in case of emergency and if it dies (as it already has once and was replaced under warranty) so suggested to my marine electronics guy that perhaps I ought to get an HF radio.*

To my surprise he pushed back and said that it wasnt really necessary and that an Inmarsat Isatphone Pro satellite phone would be a better proposition as they are a lot more attractively priced now and have more reasonable plans and a call to emergency authorities would be direct and immediate.* Of course not being able to broadcast an emergency HF message would mean nobody else would know there was an emergency and come to help perhaps faster.* There are other pros and cons but what would you do?* Get both is the obvious answer, but is that necessary?

Obviously I would have a cell phone but who knows where and when it would have coverage.

Appreciate your advice and comments.
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Old 03-07-2012, 01:15 AM   #2
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RE: HF radio or Satellite Phone?

If you only plan coastal cruising I would forget both the SSB and the sat phone. Most places get a cell phone signal. If you absolutely need to communicate all of the time then the sat phone will help. The SSB will not help. Your safety concern is best solved in expensively with handheld waterproof VHF radio such as the Standard Horizon for about $80 on line. Also the connection time contract for the sat phone is pretty expensive even if the handset cost is down.
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Old 03-07-2012, 02:56 AM   #3
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RE: HF radio or Satellite Phone?

We have a couple of hand held VHFs for backup and also have a SPOT Messenger, which is a satellite-based system similar to an EPIRB but less expensive. The SPOT does other things like let people know where you are when there isn't an emergency. Not 100% sure if you have SPOT coverage in the land of Oz.
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Old 03-07-2012, 04:20 AM   #4
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RE: HF radio or Satellite Phone?

"The SSB will not help."

Do not ships and the world continue to monitor 500 and 2182?

A SSB call to a marine operator works in most of the world , but can not download computer stiff as a sat phone can.
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Old 03-07-2012, 05:06 AM   #5
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HF radio or Satellite Phone?

Good subject, but why do I think that "coastal crusing" in Australia is a bit more extensive than on the East Coast of the US. Seems like "coastal Crusing" on the West Coast of the US is even different, and more extensive, than the East Coast. On the East Coast, you can go the entire length and not need a sat phone (personal opinion only, but I don't consider hopping over to the islands "coastal cruising"). You can travel over a thousand miles and never be far from very good reception if you are actually "coastal". Seems like the Northwest is far more rugged and Australia seems possibly more extensively so. Can you tell us your cruising plans? One last comment - It has been stated many times that a cell phone is the last choice in getting aid quickly. Radios are used for emergencies because a cell only goes to the source you call, and then has to be relayed.

Nothing against Sat phones, so if this doesn't make any sense to anyone, I apologize in advance.

-- Edited by Old Stone on Wednesday 7th of March 2012 06:09:09 AM


I do agree that more than one radio on board is essential, regardless of the type.

-- Edited by Old Stone on Wednesday 7th of March 2012 06:10:26 AM
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Old 03-07-2012, 05:53 AM   #6
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HF radio or Satellite Phone?

This is easy..

Emergency - EPIRB/PLB...no other substitute including SPOT

Communications - whatever works over your cruising area and your NEED to communicate regularly without an emergency.* Usually it's always a tradeoff of money for convenience/reliability.

Me personally I would never leave sight of land without an EPIRB/PLB...after that probably a Satphone if I could afford it.* SSBs are expensive compared to a simple HF*weather/news receiver and my experience with hundreds installed on many sailboats/sportfishers...they are difficult to install and get working effectively.


-- Edited by psneeld on Wednesday 7th of March 2012 06:57:56 AM
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Old 03-07-2012, 05:56 AM   #7
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RE: HF radio or Satellite Phone?

Quote:
FF wrote:Do not ships and the world continue to monitor 500 and 2182?
*No.
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Old 03-07-2012, 06:01 AM   #8
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RE: HF radio or Satellite Phone?

*

Still used but....

DSC distress alerts, which consist of a preformatted distress message, are used to initiate emergency communications with ships and rescue coordination centers. DSC was intended to eliminate the need for persons on a ship's bridge or on shore to continuously guard radio receivers on voice radio channels, including VHF channel 16 (156.8 MHz) and 2182 kHz now used for distress, safety and calling. A listening watch aboard GMDSS-equipped ships on 2182 kHz ended on February 1, 1999. In May 2002, IMO decided to postpone cessation of a VHF listening watch aboard ships. That watchkeeping requirement had been scheduled to end on 1 February 2005.
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Old 03-07-2012, 06:09 AM   #9
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RE: HF radio or Satellite Phone?

There is no guard on 2182. It is now only used for radiotelephone after making contact via other means such as DSC.

The automatic guard receivers now use 2187.5 which is the MF DSC frequency. No one monitors 500kHz as it is (was) a telegraph (CW) mode.
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Old 03-07-2012, 06:17 AM   #10
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RE: HF radio or Satellite Phone?

We have a ICOM M802 HF radio and use it daily for weather and*SSB/ham radio nets.* I would have one for the "coastal" areas you plan to cruise.* It's worked well for us.
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Old 03-07-2012, 08:42 AM   #11
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RE: HF radio or Satellite Phone?

Quote:
Larry M wrote:We have a ICOM M802 HF radio and use it daily for*...*SSB/ham radio nets.*
That is probably the best and most fun reason to have one onboard these days. It is hard to justify one for a coastal boat otherwise.
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Old 03-07-2012, 08:54 AM   #12
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HF radio or Satellite Phone?

Our boat is a similar situation. We wanted anywhere communications both for emergency and for non emergency use.

For us, a satellite based voice and data communications system*was the best solution. It not only provides us with emergency communications, it provides us with convience communications, both voice and high speed data. This allows us to spend more time on the boat.

It was and is a very expensive addition to the boat. One we debated quite a bit. The unit cost 13.5K, and the service is $250 a month. Would we do it all over again? Of course. The extra time we can spend aboard and the doors that anywhere communications opens up are priceless.


-- Edited by ksanders on Wednesday 7th of March 2012 09:56:00 AM
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Old 03-07-2012, 09:51 AM   #13
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HF radio or Satellite Phone?

I'm with your electronics guy. I don't know who you would call in Oz but speed dial 1 on mine is the Coast Guard Los Angeles.


-- Edited by Vyndance on Wednesday 7th of March 2012 10:52:47 AM
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Old 03-07-2012, 04:22 PM   #14
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RE: HF radio or Satellite Phone?

Guys thanks for your perspectives/suggestions.

Carl, my cruising plans as I am in Victoria in southern Oz, are to initially island hop from Lake Entrance on the mainland across Bass Strait and on to the island state of Tasmania. Also to port and island hop wherever possible north up the east coast to Queensland. Early days yet so just in preliminary planning but not venturing too far from the coast.

FF/Larry, as I'm quite new to all this I'm not sure what extent of SSB services are available in Oz other than a fax weather service by the weather bureau. That in itself would be valuable, but from my quick research the ICOM 802 is $2-3K which is more than I was thinking for a radio. Plus the licensing hassles/exams would be a pain.

Scott, I agree an EPIRB is a must. They're mandatory for >2K's from the coast anyway.

So perhaps a powerful handheld waterproof VHF as suggested by John H. Handy for in the dinghy as well. Not sure about the value of a SPOT if I have to have an EPIRB.

Looks like the sat phone is a nose in front.
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Old 03-07-2012, 06:25 PM   #15
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RE: HF radio or Satellite Phone?

Hi Janis,
The transport Operations ( Marine Safety) regulation 2004
All boatsgoing more than 2 nautical miles from land outside smooth waters MUST cary an EPIRB
Boats operating exclusively within 20 n miles of a coast station require to carry a marine VHF radio.
Boats operating beyond this area require a marine MF/HF radio.
All radios now need to be operated by a licensed operator.
Hope this helps.
Cheers
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Old 03-07-2012, 08:04 PM   #16
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HF radio or Satellite Phone?

Janis,
Just to let you know my own set up.
HF radio, still the best weather station , especially if you are offshore and out of phone range , (very easy on the Aus coast), Our Coast guard stations still monitor HF
2 x VHF one as a back up, don't even bother with a 27 Meg set. I usuall have one set on local station and the other on scan but not the set channel.
1 x sat phone , I have recently changed from Globalstar ( the most hopeless service over a 6 yhear period) I have now gone to an Iridium extreme, the I Sat is still a point and shoot so has some short commings.
Apply for a Government grant for your sat phone, due to the fact that you will be living/cruising in remote areas forr over 6 months of the year.
I went thru a broker in West Aus who was excellent.
PM me if you want molre info.

Added later

PS I also carry a portable VHF for dinghy work so that I can tell the missus I'm lost when out fishing. This also goes in the ditch bag.

HF radios , 2 nd hand is the way to go, radio and tuner can be had a reasonable price , but buy a new 15/18 ft ant with a good ground plate attached to the hull.


-- Edited by Tidahapah on Thursday 8th of March 2012 12:08:16 AM
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Old 03-08-2012, 03:38 AM   #17
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RE: HF radio or Satellite Phone?

Plus the licensing hassles/exams would be a pain.

License? License ? We don't need no stinking LICENSE!
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Old 03-28-2013, 02:22 PM   #18
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An interesting debate, that doesn't have a clear solution. I have the same quandary - I recently bought a Nordhavn 43, and we are planning to extensively cruise it, starting from Northern CA, down the pacific coast of Mexico and Central America, through the canal, then to Columbia, ABC islands, Trinidad, and then island hop up to Florida. After that, we will either cross the pond to Europe, or reverse course and cross the bigger pond to the South Pacific.

So, we have a mix of coastal and open water cruising ahead of us. The N43 (soon to be renamed Tropical Blend) has two VHF's, and a Globalstar satphone that is currently out of service. So, I am wondering if it makes sense to add an HF radio, activate the Globalstar, get a different satphone, get a weather fax receiver, etc. Our primary interest will be obtaining weather, and occasional e-mail (as well as emergency). The boat does have an EPIRB already, so for an abandon ship emergency, we are good.

It's great to be among the slow boat set - we are giving up our Searay 380DA to live life at 7 knots! I'm certainly interested in opinions about this communications issue.
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Old 03-28-2013, 06:12 PM   #19
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If you have the bucks, I'd go for both sat phone and SSB. If not, I'd go for the sat phone. I love my SSB, but if I had the bucks, I'd ditch it and use sat phone exclusively. If you want to monitor any of the many networks which discuss weather, you can pair the sat phone with a good quality HF/Ham receiver.
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Old 03-28-2013, 08:56 PM   #20
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If you only plan coastal cruising I would forget both the SSB and the sat phone. Most places get a cell phone signal.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Cell phones can be the bane of boaters. We assume because they are so widely used on land that the same applies to on the water.

NOT SO, DO NOT COUNT ON THEM. Particularily if you are away from highly populated areas.

In my area there are many dead spots including LARGE portions of the coast. In fact there is more coast without than there is with. Further if you have the wrong provider it's even worse, there may be no cell phone service for you at all.

Only one person can hear you, the person you called if you get through, yet there could be help a mile away if you used a VHF of other similar radio, Ham, SSB.

Remember that a marine radio can be heard directly by another marine radio but not so with cells.

The CCG will ask if you have a cell and direct you to call them, or they will call you, on it once you have their attention to discuss further arrangements and clear the VHF if cell service is useable in the area.

Carry one and use it definitely as of course it can be usefull but don't count on it the same way you would a marine radio and be aware of its severe limits in a marine use.

I realize that doesn't help with your choice of SSB, Ham, Sat or anything else but I reacted to the assertion about cells because in many areas it just isn't so.
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