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Offshore Communications

2056 Views 18 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  JJV48
I need some advice on Offshore Communications. Specifically emergencies. Fishing the Canyon area out of Rockaway Inlet. SSB the way to go? I've seen them for about $1,200.00 at boatersworld but they also recommend an Autotuner? for about $500? Is that necessary? Is a SSB necessary? I want to go safety first, Switlik 6-man raft, Class I EPIRB, etc. Any advice is appreciated.
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My two cents. I have an SSB, which I installed myself, and I wouldn't be without it, for several reasons. Number 1 safety, not onlt to call the C.G. but other boats out there. JJV said that there are always 50 boats around? Maybe at the tails, but where I often fish, way to the east we are often the only boat in sight and VHF is a line of sight radio so if another boat is just over the horizon from your antenna VHF is never going to reach him. Plus, as Mike and Jecaro said, you can talk to boat who are out there fishing before you leave the dock.
Installation, most SSBs come in three pieces, the radio, the tuner and the antenna. The grounding system is the single most important part (other than DC power :). You mush have a good size grounding late, preferably dedicated to the SSB. The radio unit gets grounded to the plate as does the tuner. But the tuner is NOT grounded with a "normal" wire. Its grounded with 2-3 inch wide copper foil The foil must run in oner continous strip from the coupler to the ground. FWIW I have two grounds one to the grounding plate and another to my starboard engine, (it was so easy I just had to do it). The wire that connect the tuner to the antenna is NOT coax. I forget what its called but any decent electronics shop will have it. Its not a shielded cable and has one heavy metallic conductor. That 16 ft antenna is hard to install on a lot of boats and must have some type of support installed. On my boat the base sits on a gunnel and the antenna is braced to the tower. Sat phones are a good thing, especially with prices coming down, but IMHO the SSB is better from a sfaety point of view. Any you can make phone calls over the SSB vis the good old marine operator, and it doesn't cost nearly as much as air time
on the sat phone.
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