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Travel Communication Options

    Most of us want to get away from it all, but staying in touch is important both for safety and the sanity of the loved ones we leave behind.

  • Marine SSB or Ham - This is the most common way yachters stay in touch with each other. Cruisers pass valuable up to date local information and weather on nets throughout the world. Most family members do not have a HAM radio station set up in their house, but phone patches are sometimes available. Remember that if you are using HAM frequencies, you cannot conduct business over the radio.

  • Satellite Phones are really the only way to contact someone anytime or anyplace. You can dial a real phone number and talk to a person in an emergency or on a special occasion. The voice quality isn't always perfect but usually the rates are cheaper than using a regular pay phone on land, and you can call from anywhere in the world. I also like the fact that you can take it off the boat with you in the event you have to abandon ship. I know someone who saved his bacon by calling his wife and saying, "uh honey, the boats gone!! I'm on Chesterfield reef, can you please let someone know?"
  • It's a good backup for the EPIRB.

  • Email from Anywhere -  Email is the way to stay in touch with a larger audience. Some people send update emails to a group of people.  Others, like us, use a Blog to keep people up to date (with certain sites you can email in your BLOG entry and it will automatically post to your site). We prefer to use our Satellite Phone for email over a SSB/Pactor option because it has the previously mentioned voice capabilities and extra safety with its portability.

  • Your cell phone on roaming? Most of the South Pacific doesn't have good enough coverage to rely on it being available. New Zealand, the Marshall Islands, Australia, and Indonesia (wow!) all had good coverage available via the same (dual/tri-band) cell phone with different SIM cards.

  • Email in Port -  Internet cafe. Get used to going to cafes and paying good money to use the slow internet. You'll want to get in and out and get the data you want back to the boat in an organized fashion. Unless you have done it before you have no idea how difficult and unorganized it can get.
  • Wireless Onboard - If you get lucky enough to be in a spot that has wireless internet, you can try and get it on your boat. Most built in wireless antennas will not be sufficient to pull the signal into your boat.
  • Skype in Port - You can use Skype to make extremely cheap alls, about 1/2 cent per minute, anywhere in the world. It uses the internet, and if your family has Skype installed on their computer the calls are FREE. You can even watch each other if you have a web cam installed. If you can't get wireless on your boat, most internet cafes have Skype available and all you need is a Sykpe login. Sign up and get your family signed up as well, because they probably have know idea what Skype is .. YET!


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