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Sunday, July 28, 2019

Satellite Communications

Lately I’ve been doing some research on satellite communications. I plan on doing a lot of sailboat travel this fall and winter. Some of those places will definitely be out of cell phone range.

That would leave me with VHF radio. Radios are nice, but of limited range. That’s not to say they are being neglected. My handheld radio will have plenty of backup batteries and charging options. The main boat radio is up and running again and will get a new cable up the mast. Radio is extremely useful. In an emergency it’s the best way to contact nearby help. The Coast Guard monitors radio traffic extremely well. It’s also useful for contacting other boats, marinas, bridges, and locks. However, it’s pretty bad for letting people back home know how you are doing.

Right now the main contenders are the various Garmin Inreach devices. Some of them have GPS features and other nifty tools. Their main purpose, as far as I’m concerned, is communication. They have an SOS button to contact rescue services just about anywhere in the world. You can also send and receive text messages to cell phones. There’s a feature that allows select people to follow your travels on a web site portal. They even have weather report options.

Prices have reached the point where it’s worth considering. There are good options in the $300 - $500 range, plus a monthly service fee. It’s possible to get perfectly useful service for about $15/month. Not a bad deal for something that can save your life.

If anyone has experience with these devices I’d love to hear from you.



  1. I have an older sat phone I bought off Ebay years ago. It worked great as long as there were a couple satellites overheard. I rarely used it, and the activation plans got pretty pricey. I eventually had it disconnected and it sits on a shelf in a Pelican case.
    But it was clear as a bell in far west TX near Big Bend National Park. (No cell svc)

    1. The phone plans are pretty expensive. That's why I was impressed with the much more reasonable Inreach fees.

  2. Replies
    1. You know what? Normally I'd delete a blatant advertising comment on my blog. Just this once I'm going to leave this one right here.

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