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HF Radio....to Invest or Not?

Discussion in 'Technical Discussion' started by Nigel Oakey, Aug 11, 2019.

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  1. Nigel Oakey

    Nigel Oakey New Member

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    I am progressing with a full electronics upgrade of my 1965 TSDMY deep ocean class 75ft G. De Vries Lentsch Motor Yacht. I am ignoring all / any advice to go fully networked, NMEA, Canbus etc... Instead I am investing in commercial / fishing trawler versions of standalone FURUNO gear for each item (GPS, Radar, Depth Sounder, Autopilot etc...) and having dual redundancy for each. The previous FURUNO gear, installed with this approach served the vessel well for 30 years! The only reason I am getting rid of my old 'green screen' and CRT screen radar is that Furuno finally has no more spares. I have selected FURUNO again because of its commercial orientation and the fact that it plays the long game with its models which means I'm not going to be upset in 2 years when the latest software update renders my hardware useless. The key question I am asking myself now is do I replace the existing HF Radio. All the HF stations in Australia have closed down and there is still a burdensome licensing system here to own an HF license. The argument in favour of keeping the gear seems to be that HF is a communication tool that works where all else fails. I am figuring that I can instead invest in a hard-wired Sat Phone and even have an Iridium Go as a back-up. Please Members, let me know your views assuming that I am refitting my vessel for long range deep-ocean passage making.
  2. captholli

    captholli Senior Member

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    It would depend on your intended cruising grounds as a great deal of cruisers still use HF on the cruiser nets to get weather and general information on locations , anchorages , nav. hazards etc. in remote locations. You have to weigh the expense of equipment and install vs use. HF would be a last resort for comms when the sun radiation flares interrupt satellites or doomsayers times arrives... ;)
  3. Nigel Oakey

    Nigel Oakey New Member

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    Yes I agree with what you say. I'm just wondering if HF is a sunset technology which might be gone altogether in say 5-10 years. In which case I would get ahead of the curve now and not bother getting in!
  4. captholli

    captholli Senior Member

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    Don't know if its going the way of the dinosaur quite yet as its still mandatory equipment on all vessels over 500 tons as part of their GMDSS equipment packages so between yachts and commercial vessels that's a lot of HF- MF equipment installed out there on the high seas.
  5. d_meister

    d_meister Senior Member

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    It depends on if you're thinking of HF-SSB or HF Ham. There's lot's of traffic and scheduled listeners on Ham, but not a lot on SSB. Years ago, in 1998, a friend was broadcasting a Pan-Pan on SSB 12 Alpha. My wife was monitoring the frequency for the Transpac and heard it, so I responded to him. He had tried to contact the USCG from 150 miles south of San Diego on the emergency HF 2182 frequency, without success. From Acapulco, I called USCG Station San Diego via sat-phone. They told me that they don't monitor any HF frequencies, but I managed to relay a meet-up between the CG and my friend on another frequency (8A). The moral of the story is that A- don't expect immediate assistance from HF, and, B- Sat phones work well. Be sure and have the quick-dial programmed, though;)
    Incidentally, the Iridium Go really needs an external antenna. I couldn't get a signal in the pilothouse of a yacht in Panama at the dock in Bocas del Toro, but it worked OK in the salon!
  6. Ken Bracewell

    Ken Bracewell Senior Member

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    I would add MF/HF radio to your equipment list. But if you decide against it, perhaps consider SATC.
  7. Nigel Oakey

    Nigel Oakey New Member

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    I googled SATC and SATC and only “Sex and the City” returned the search? What is SATC?
  8. Ken Bracewell

    Ken Bracewell Senior Member

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    It's a 2-way packet data transfer. Officially Inmarsat C

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inmarsat-C
  9. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    I had Marine HF/SSB on my boat for 14 years and loved it.
    Not only for stuff like talking to fellow cruisers or getting a good wx forecast, but also if in the middle of nowhere you want to know what’s going on, dial in BBC World News. Also good for phone patches, wifey needed to chat with mother and sister every day: Using cell phone roaming from the Bahamas to the US could be $3 per minute a few years ago. Using the SSB with a phone patch knocked it down to $0.53 (cents) per minute (credit card on file with the radio station.)
    Would install an HF again if I had a bigger boat, not suitable or needed for this little tub: www.odincharters.com
  10. captholli

    captholli Senior Member

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    Not sure but haven't all coastal stations ceased operations in the U.S.? I know that WLO in LA. was the last to hang in there and that was ten yrs back or so. WOM ,Miami & WOO, N.Y. have been long gone for ATT operator patches. Has something replaced these stations on HF? Cruiser nets and BBC plus time tick out of CO. seem to be the general use with budget minded cruisers and sat phones are a luxury item for special occasions or for emergency use.
  11. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    No idea. Sold my sailboat with the SSB 6 years ago, never keyed an HK mike since.
    What is on the Mega Yacht Bridges? Sat this and Sat that, but no HF probably?
    (I should go along on deliveries of big boats with some of you guys, to upgrade my ticket from 100 tons to 200 tons, I need recent sea time on boats over 67 tons according to the nice Lady at the MPT school)
  12. captholli

    captholli Senior Member

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    See post# 4 "GMDSS" equipment on vessels over 500 tons.
  13. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    Roger on that.
    Does most big boats under 500 tons also use, or have HF installed?
    (All long range airplanes also have 2 HFs, transmitting at Max 300 watts, but nobody is monitoring the emergency frequency, it is all selcall)
  14. d_meister

    d_meister Senior Member

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    It looks like Whiskey Lima Oscar is still operating out of Mobile, Alabama, if Facebook is current. Over in the Pacific, we used KMI out of Point Reyes until it went off the air at the same time WOO went off the air. When chatting with the operators, I found that all the traffic went to AT&T High Seas in Chicago! We spent $5 a minute for that convenience. I was never aware that the rates were better on the other coasts, although VHF Marine Operators were around 24 cents, when in range.
    It seems to me the real value in HF would be in Ham, since that's where the traffic is, and it's illegal to broadcast on the Ham frequencies with SSB gear, although you can listen freely. Unless, of course, all that's changed since I was current.
  15. captholli

    captholli Senior Member

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    The rules for carriage of GMDSS gear relies on ocean areas and begins @ 300 to 500 tons for what equipment and how many of redundancies. All vessels over 500 tons carry MF -HF DSC gear by carriage law. Of course the SSB units are backups to Immarsat units and telex .
  16. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    The $0.53 rate with WLO was with a $25 annual “membership” or subscription, regular “off the street” rates were higher, but can’t remember the amount. (2 things happens when you get older: First thing to go is the memory, the second one I can’t remember. )
  17. captholli

    captholli Senior Member

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    Interesting that WLO is still going, didn't know that so thx. AT&T High Sea operators were always so nice to speak with once you came off of the traffic waiting list from the shore station.
  18. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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  19. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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  20. Norseman

    Norseman Senior Member

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    From a Cruiser Forum, 2018.


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