Weather access and communication are topics that Keith and I have been wrestling with for the past three years. Our first stab at it was a tiny handheld katio ssb receiver, but during our first Bahama shake down cruise we found it to be nearly worthless, we were never able to hear a full weather report on it. We had to use our friends little grundig. Back to the drawing board. We hit the the boat shows, forums, and web only to walk away more confused. A ssb transiever with modem was an obvious solution but the price–ouch. Add in the fact that the whole concept is a bit intimidating and we just shied away from this option. Instead we bought another portable ssb receiver and an ipad app to download weather faxes and we also decided that we could add a satellite phone later. Done. Checked off the list.
Or maybe not. The closer we get to casting off and the more been-there-done-that cruisers we meet, the more we realized that we really wanted a real ssb. So this past weekend it was our main focus at the SSCA Gam. Went straight over to the radio guys table, $4200.00 for the icom m802 ssb complete set up. Um…….Nope. Still, we went to the Winlink seminar on using your ham/ssb radio to send and receive emails from anywhere-no internet required. (Emails don’t just mean saying “Hi” to other boats or friends and family ashore, they are how you get printed forecasts, weather faxes, and weather grib files.) Things that make you rethink and actually consider spending over $4000.00.
By Sunday we committed to purchasing a radio, just not one of the show packages. (If you know us, you know we kinda like to get a deal.) We hit the internet distributors, eBay, and craigslist in search. No luck. This morning Keith called Zach at Duys Marine Electronics in Cape Canaveral. We knew him the yacht club many years ago and he even remembered us. It turns out he had an icom 710 with remote display, the tuner, and all the accessories-$1100.00 for the package. This was sounding good. Keith went down to the shop and asked if he had a pactor 2/3 modem too. Yep, and he threw it in “to sweeten the deal” What!? That’s several hundred dollars, $1200.00 new. Done deal.
So, this was the happy surprise I came home to see on the settee tonight. Another score by Keith.