To SSB or not to SSB?


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Philip Heaton
Philip Heaton
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We had recent news from some friends who arrived in French Polynesia and said that they were somewhat deflated rather than elated.  When we arrived there it was a time of high excitement. We got to wondering what would make the difference. They were two and so were we. We stopped at Galapagos but they did not - their crossing from Panama was only about 6 days longer than ours from Galapagos. So what else? Well, they did not have SSB but had satellite comms - we had both. We believe that daily conversations with other folks on an SSB net does wonders for morale and the sheer enjoyment of long ocean passages.
Our watch system had Norma on until midnight and me 0000 to 0600, so Norma was on the crossing net and was net controller 1 or 2 days a week.  She really looked forward to the morning net and would then update me on boat positions and what was happening when I awoke.
It was the same on passages to and from NZ, from Vanuatu to PNG where Norma called in to two nets, and then again in the Indian, South and North Atlantic oceans.  Some say SSB is "old technology " and it has been around for donkeys' years but you cannot run voice nets using satellite technology except possibly at a cost far in excess of the cost of running an SSB.

Dick
Dick
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Philip Heaton - 6/29/2019
We had recent news from some friends who arrived in French Polynesia and said that they were somewhat deflated rather than elated.  When we arrived there it was a time of high excitement. We got to wondering what would make the difference. They were two and so were we. We stopped at Galapagos but they did not - their crossing from Panama was only about 6 days longer than ours from Galapagos. So what else? Well, they did not have SSB but had satellite comms - we had both. We believe that daily conversations with other folks on an SSB net does wonders for morale and the sheer enjoyment of long ocean passages.
Our watch system had Norma on until midnight and me 0000 to 0600, so Norma was on the crossing net and was net controller 1 or 2 days a week.  She really looked forward to the morning net and would then update me on boat positions and what was happening when I awoke.
It was the same on passages to and from NZ, from Vanuatu to PNG where Norma called in to two nets, and then again in the Indian, South and North Atlantic oceans.  Some say SSB is "old technology " and it has been around for donkeys' years but you cannot run voice nets using satellite technology except possibly at a cost far in excess of the cost of running an SSB.


Dick
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Dick - 6/29/2019
Philip Heaton - 6/29/2019
We had recent news from some friends who arrived in French Polynesia and said that they were somewhat deflated rather than elated.  When we arrived there it was a time of high excitement. We got to wondering what would make the difference. They were two and so were we. We stopped at Galapagos but they did not - their crossing from Panama was only about 6 days longer than ours from Galapagos. So what else? Well, they did not have SSB but had satellite comms - we had both. We believe that daily conversations with other folks on an SSB net does wonders for morale and the sheer enjoyment of long ocean passages.
Our watch system had Norma on until midnight and me 0000 to 0600, so Norma was on the crossing net and was net controller 1 or 2 days a week.  She really looked forward to the morning net and would then update me on boat positions and what was happening when I awoke.
It was the same on passages to and from NZ, from Vanuatu to PNG where Norma called in to two nets, and then again in the Indian, South and North Atlantic oceans.  Some say SSB is "old technology " and it has been around for donkeys' years but you cannot run voice nets using satellite technology except possibly at a cost far in excess of the cost of running an SSB.


Hi Phillip,
For those who wander widely and cruise remote areas of the world, 10 years ago I would have said: no question: get a SSB rig, well set up. And then I would have encouraged a ham ticket to greatly expand the capabilities of their rig.
These days I would start by asking what they want to achieve. If they only are interested in emergency comm, emails and collecting wx data including grib, I would say to go sat-phone with a data hook-up. Then I would educate them that they would be missing out big-time on being part of the cruising community in a myriad of wonderful ways including the comm interactions you so nicely described. And that most of what is easily accomplished on a sat-phone (wx, gribs and email) can also be accomplished through the SSB with a little more effort and sometimes some frustration. Some people just do not care and, for them, I think a sat-phone is best and finesse the learning curve that SSB, ham or marine, entails.
My best, Dick Stevenson, WCZ 7717 and KC2HKW, s/v Alchemy


Philip Heaton
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Dick - 6/29/2019
Dick - 6/29/2019
Philip Heaton - 6/29/2019
We had recent news from some friends who arrived in French Polynesia and said that they were somewhat deflated rather than elated.  When we arrived there it was a time of high excitement. We got to wondering what would make the difference. They were two and so were we. We stopped at Galapagos but they did not - their crossing from Panama was only about 6 days longer than ours from Galapagos. So what else? Well, they did not have SSB but had satellite comms - we had both. We believe that daily conversations with other folks on an SSB net does wonders for morale and the sheer enjoyment of long ocean passages.
Our watch system had Norma on until midnight and me 0000 to 0600, so Norma was on the crossing net and was net controller 1 or 2 days a week.  She really looked forward to the morning net and would then update me on boat positions and what was happening when I awoke.
It was the same on passages to and from NZ, from Vanuatu to PNG where Norma called in to two nets, and then again in the Indian, South and North Atlantic oceans.  Some say SSB is "old technology " and it has been around for donkeys' years but you cannot run voice nets using satellite technology except possibly at a cost far in excess of the cost of running an SSB.


Hi Phillip,
For those who wander widely and cruise remote areas of the world, 10 years ago I would have said: no question: get a SSB rig, well set up. And then I would have encouraged a ham ticket to greatly expand the capabilities of their rig.
These days I would start by asking what they want to achieve. If they only are interested in emergency comm, emails and collecting wx data including grib, I would say to go sat-phone with a data hook-up. Then I would educate them that they would be missing out big-time on being part of the cruising community in a myriad of wonderful ways including the comm interactions you so nicely described. And that most of what is easily accomplished on a sat-phone (wx, gribs and email) can also be accomplished through the SSB with a little more effort and sometimes some frustration. Some people just do not care and, for them, I think a sat-phone is best and finesse the learning curve that SSB, ham or marine, entails.
My best, Dick Stevenson, WCZ 7717 and KC2HKW, s/v Alchemy


Hi Dick
Yes, we set up Minnie B some eleven years ago and at first we used the SSB with pactor modem for everything boatie: GRIBs, e-mail and voice nets.  Our satphone was for speaking to immediate family in the UK and UK MRCC if needed.  After a few years we started to get a bit fed up with the download/upload time and began using the satphone for emails, blog, weather etc so that the SSB became voice only.
We both believe that being able to talk to other cruisers when on passage makes a huge difference in the enjoyment of the passage ... especially if you are catching up someone or pulling away ... and ultimately in the sense of satisfaction at the end of the passage, having had the company of others albeit you might be hundreds or even thousands of miles apart.
Very best wishes
Phil
bwallace
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Hi all. This conversation has been around for along time. Talk to anyone who has done long passages and used SSB most say they would not do without out for all the reasons stated previously.
A person venture in out on a first passage are often put off by the price, and seem to compare it to Sat phones etc.
I think for safety Sat phones are a worthwhile consideration, and yet we never had one on Darramy.
The world that opens up with an SSB on passage does make inter vessel communication in my opinion an essential part of making a passage more fun. Interacting with other vessels makes new friends, and anyone who has used SSB on passage has a wonderful collection of friends who may eventually meet up on arrival or maybe not, the boats in front may have moved on, but you will usually meet up somewhere down the line.
I see the Med net is now getting going so we will be listening to that, though not sure how propagation will be in many of these Greek anchorages.
Sail Safe and enjoy

Brian and Sue
S/V Darramy. Enjoying the Peloponnisos ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž
Philip Heaton
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bwallace - 7/1/2019
Hi all. This conversation has been around for along time. Talk to anyone who has done long passages and used SSB most say they would not do without out for all the reasons stated previously.
A person venture in out on a first passage are often put off by the price, and seem to compare it to Sat phones etc.
I think for safety Sat phones are a worthwhile consideration, and yet we never had one on Darramy.
The world that opens up with an SSB on passage does make inter vessel communication in my opinion an essential part of making a passage more fun. Interacting with other vessels makes new friends, and anyone who has used SSB on passage has a wonderful collection of friends who may eventually meet up on arrival or maybe not, the boats in front may have moved on, but you will usually meet up somewhere down the line.
I see the Med net is now getting going so we will be listening to that, though not sure how propagation will be in many of these Greek anchorages.
Sail Safe and enjoy

Brian and Sue
S/V Darramy. Enjoying the Peloponnisos ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž

Hi Brian and Sue
We went on the Mednet this morning for the first time - only a handful of boats.  Interesting net control - came across a whole new phonetic alphabet: A= America, G= Germany, N= Norway!!!!
We will not be on again for another 5 weeks or so as heading back to UK.  Minnie B is staying near Pisa while we are away.  Enjoy Greece and will speak in August then.
Cheers Phil and Norma
Dick
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bwallace - 7/1/2019
Hi all. This conversation has been around for along time. Talk to anyone who has done long passages and used SSB most say they would not do without out for all the reasons stated previously.
A person venture in out on a first passage are often put off by the price, and seem to compare it to Sat phones etc.
I think for safety Sat phones are a worthwhile consideration, and yet we never had one on Darramy.
The world that opens up with an SSB on passage does make inter vessel communication in my opinion an essential part of making a passage more fun. Interacting with other vessels makes new friends, and anyone who has used SSB on passage has a wonderful collection of friends who may eventually meet up on arrival or maybe not, the boats in front may have moved on, but you will usually meet up somewhere down the line.
I see the Med net is now getting going so we will be listening to that, though not sure how propagation will be in many of these Greek anchorages.
Sail Safe and enjoy

Brian and Sue
S/V Darramy. Enjoying the Peloponnisos ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž

Hi all,
I am glad to hear that the MedNet is active. I always thought it a lost opportunity for those in the Med. We were there for 4-5 years and for a while I was net coordinator and always felt that the net lacked a critical mass to get it over the hump to be really viable. That said, I met some on the air who I later met in person and became good friends with.
Good luck with it. Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy

bwallace
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Hi again,
I can confirm the Mednet is still going strong. Darramy had only been on the net twice and on the third day I was honoured to get a net controllers job!. Today was my first day, and I had 9 boats check in.
My point of TO SSB or NOT to SSB is to open  other avenues which previously have not been mentioned  We have come across two OCC boats on the Mednet, but also have now made contact with a yacht whom we last saw in the San Blass Isles in 2010.
So now even in the age of people using "Twit Face", there is still a place for the SSB. and  Nets which in my opinion are fun and a lot of information can be gleamed and the reacquaintance  with cruisers from previous anchorages or continents can be refreshing and revive past memories.
The people who are advocates are cruisers who have installed and obtained much benefit from the SSB.
OVER!
Brian
s/v Darramy

Dick
Dick
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bwallace - 7/6/2019
Hi again,
I can confirm the Mednet is still going strong. Darramy had only been on the net twice and on the third day I was honoured to get a net controllers job!. Today was my first day, and I had 9 boats check in.
My point of TO SSB or NOT to SSB is to open  other avenues which previously have not been mentioned  We have come across two OCC boats on the Mednet, but also have now made contact with a yacht whom we last saw in the San Blass Isles in 2010.
So now even in the age of people using "Twit Face", there is still a place for the SSB. and  Nets which in my opinion are fun and a lot of information can be gleamed and the reacquaintance  with cruisers from previous anchorages or continents can be refreshing and revive past memories.
The people who are advocates are cruisers who have installed and obtained much benefit from the SSB.
OVER!
Brian
s/v Darramy

Hi Brian, Agree completely. Those who are cruisers who wander widely are likely to feel more isolated than those with SSB. Some will not care, but many will miss out in just the way you describe. I am glad to hear the MedNet is still going. My best, Dick
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