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Old 03-22-2018, 06:15 AM   #1
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To SSB or Not to SSB . . .

. . . that is the question. Our boat came with an older ICOM M800 from the early 90s. The PO said it worked but Iíve never tried to power it up and disconnected some of the cabling during rewiring projects.

What are the practical uses for one of these in an era of ubiquitous cell towers? Is it still valuable to have one in the Bahamas? I have limited real estate at the lower helm and donít need to carry something Iíll never use. On the other hand Iíd hate to jettison something I might have a use for.
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Old 03-22-2018, 06:22 AM   #2
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In the US or Canada very little use. Once you go to the Caribbean the SSB is used every day for the weather and the cruiser nets.

Also if you are in a marina you likely will not get reception. It is also difficult for power boats to get reception underway as the SSB is sensitive to any electrical interference including in my case my inverter.
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Old 03-22-2018, 07:32 AM   #3
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I agree with Marty, unless offshore a good ways or out of the country, not much use. I use mine a lot, glad to have it, but probably will let it collect dust upon returning.
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Old 03-22-2018, 07:40 AM   #4
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One of the first things I did after I bought the boat was remove the SSB. In the 30 year previous life of the boat I doubt that it was used twice. It looked pristine as it took up valuable space under the dash and contributed to the mess of writing below the panel. Also, it was mounted on the door to the cabinet below and made access to the space a PIA.
It eventually sold at boaters resale for $300 after sitting for a year.
In the two years since I have never thought ďoh, I wish I had my SSBĒ.
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Old 03-22-2018, 07:43 AM   #5
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Quote:
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In the US or Canada very little use. Once you go to the Caribbean the SSB is used every day for the weather and the cruiser nets.

Also if you are in a marina you likely will not get reception. It is also difficult for power boats to get reception underway as the SSB is sensitive to any electrical interference including in my case my inverter.
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I agree with Marty, unless offshore a good ways or out of the country, not much use. I use mine a lot, glad to have it, but probably will let it collect dust upon returning.
What they said. In the Bahamas, we listen to weather every morning and use it for crossing back and forth on the Gulf Stream. For the Bahamas you could probably get similar information on-line but your not hearing the specific question/answers with local knowledge that could affect your cruising area.

https://mwxc.com/marine_weather_services.php
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Old 03-22-2018, 09:06 AM   #6
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I found, when I had mine, that to initiate a phone call from the Bahamas I was too close but I could use Washington. I haven’t had one on my last two boats but if I was going on cross ocean trips like Homo I would have one on board.
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Old 03-22-2018, 09:07 AM   #7
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I should add that sat phones may be a better option.
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Old 03-22-2018, 09:13 AM   #8
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I would like to have receive only. If I need emergency help, sat phone or epirb/plb. Also I think the antenna requirements for good transmit are picky picky but not so much for receive only. On other boats that had HF's, I entertained my self on long passages just listening.
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Old 03-22-2018, 09:18 AM   #9
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Ski. I have a portable sw radio to listen in to weather, it much cheaper than a SSB.
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Old 03-22-2018, 09:46 AM   #10
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Ebay for the ICOM SSB
Portable Shortwave radio receiver with SSB/BFO for listening if you want. Make sure it has DIGITAL tuning!!! Search "receiver SSB" on ebay. Grundig Yachtboy is a good example.
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Old 03-22-2018, 12:17 PM   #11
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An SSB radio is quite stable , so a cheap program and you can print weather fax on your computer.
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Old 03-22-2018, 12:22 PM   #12
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I use jvcomm, it is a free download for basic version. Works great with older SSB that can’t support modem
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Old 03-22-2018, 12:25 PM   #13
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An SSB radio is quite stable , so a cheap program and you can print weather fax on your computer.
We use the free demo version of JVComm.

JVComm32 - FAX SSTV RTTY SYNOP NAVTEX Programm -+-

Hereís NOAAís world wide fax schedule to go with it.

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/marine/rfax.pdf
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Old 03-22-2018, 01:27 PM   #14
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With a Pactor modem, you can also send and receive emails, either free (if you have a Ham license, but then no commercial content) or through SailMail for a few hundred $$ per year. As with SSB voice, not something you are likely to use unless offshore or out of the country.
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Old 03-29-2018, 06:14 AM   #15
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Forgot or circle back and thank yíall. Iím keeping the SSBóat least for nowóbut will relocate it to a spot thatís less in the way of control and nav functions at the helm.
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Old 03-30-2018, 06:54 AM   #16
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"Here’s NOAA’s world wide fax schedule to go with it.
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/marine/rfax.pdf"

Always fun to observe the wave heights in the North Atlantic , while wintering in a place thats warm and snug and flat!
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Old 01-14-2020, 07:54 AM   #17
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Resurrecting this thread . . .

. . . because itís finally decision time to either keep or yank and sell the ICOMM M800. To summarize, I donít see us becoming radio hobbyists, so the only reasons to keep it would be for emergency comms or to receive weather info where other means donít work. We do plan to travel north as far as Nova Scotia and eventually to the Bahamas.

Will a portable SW (for listening to weather forecasts and discussions) and an EPIRB accomplish most of what we need in these instances?
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Old 01-14-2020, 08:11 AM   #18
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Angus, why get rid of it? SSBs are a great communications and weather tool when offshore or in remote areas as noted by previous posters. VHF is largely line of sight, cell phone signals get lost and when in northern latitudes domes can become iffy.

Years ago when offshore racing it was the best way for a racing fleet to check in. Cruisers can hookup to virtually anywhere with an SSB. Great in Mexico, hurricane prone areas and far corners of the PNW. We don't have one, but sometimes cruise with those who do - they are our daily weather briefers, hooked into ships and far away sources.

Store it onboard and pull it out when you're remote. DeFevers have lots of nooks and crannys!
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Old 01-14-2020, 08:26 AM   #19
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Good points, Tom; Iím just wondering if their utility has been superseded by more modern means.

ówill I get the same weather info in remote areas via a receive-only SW? (and just not be able to participate in discussions.)

ówill an EPIRB work as well for emergencies in remote areas?

Iím on a crusade to remove all of the obsolete equipment and wiring that came as a legacy on Stella. But I donít want to cut of my nose . . .
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Old 01-14-2020, 08:39 AM   #20
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The following is just my opinion. If you elect to remove "all of the obsolete equipment and wiring" better be prepared to move fast. If you install the latest and greatest electronic equipment of today, 3 months from now, it may be 'old hat'.
Buy and use the stuff that makes you comfortable today. Let the next owner worry about the "latest and greatest".
Per a SSB, you have one, keep it and use it, if only for weather planning and reports. It can be a valuable tool only if you spend time learning and using it.
Another option is a Sat Phone. I have a hand held Sat Phone on board, just incase.
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