... National Coastwatch ...

I am looking for new service from my Satellite phone. I am also looking for software for weather and emails. Recommendations???

Jeff & Judy  s/v Just Passing Wind

The Marathon leaving port in ...

The boat I was on in the South Pacific for the first half of this year

had an Iridium phone (sorry, don't remember if it was a 9505 or a 9555) and service through an outfit called Blue Cosmo (, in Seattle. To that was attached a Mac laptop with UUPlus software ( With that we could send and receive emails and via Saildocs download GRIB files for weather. Worked great. No vested interest in any of the above; just an end user.


s/v Cynosure

Seattle/San Carlos

TRACKING use the yellow brick

I don’t think you can do better than through Luis Soltero at Global Marine Networks

We used their service for 10 years in the Caribbean for weather and E-mail via Iridium.  It never skipped a beat.  Luis is a former cruiser so he knows what cruisers need and don’t need.  He gets it.  

Glenn Tuttle - Moderator

Cruisers Network Online

M/V Tothill

I would agree that the Iridium Go, coupled with the new version of Airmail (you will need an Sailmail account to use this) is the most reliable solution for offshore sailing. With an Iridium Go you pay about $125 / month for unlimited data and I believe 100 minutes of talk time. PredictWind is designed to work well the the Iridium Go for weather predictions, and you can couple your iPhone/iPad/Android to the Iridium Go's wifi and use them to make sat phone calls.  A little pricey, but overall the best solution. We have very quick connect times and data transfers seem faster when the Go is used with the Airmail/Sailmail combination. When we were using just Airmail via our SSB radio we spent lots of time just finding a station to connect to, and then the data transfer could get dumped.

On Sun, Aug 21, 2016 at 1:07 PM, [pacificpuddlejump] <> wrote:


Predict wind with Iridium go


We used predict wind for weather last year, this year I am going to try qtVim along with zyGrib 



SV shapeshifter

Several boats have been saying how great Iridium Go is, about $125 for unlimited data and some talk time too per month is what most folks do.  Weather Monday thru Sat. via David on Gulf Harbour Radio out of New Zealand is great on SSB 8.752 normally but due to radar noise this may change during broadcasts, so 8779 or 8297 kHz. (In that order depending on interference). Monday-Saturday UTC 1915.   Also streaming on WiFi.  7:15am local time and same as Fiji.  Covers Vanuatu to Minerva Reef and NZ to OZ up to Samoas.  Special places if you can talk to him or send a chat message.

Gulf Harbour Radio is a licensed coast radio station, ZMH286, whose primary purpose is to provide current weather analysis and forecasts for cruising yachts and fisherman in the Southwest Pacific. Gulf Harbour Radio, GHR, is also an official part of a suite of communications for Civil Defence in the event of a national or local disaster where other forms of communications are cut off.

It was established in 2012 when Patricia and David from SV Chameleon decided to take a year off cruising to establish a land home. Initially we arranged to talk to friends from our dock who were departing for the Islands and needed to be updated on what to expect weather wise. It sort of grew and by the end of the season over 500 boats had been in contact either on air or via email! We went cruising again in 2013 but now operate full time in the cruising season which is May to mid November. We take Sunday off to accommodate our new sport.   

Steve and Judy Dauzenroth

s/v Code Blue


Boat in Vuda Point Marina, We're in Seattle area for a while, back in Sept.

I'm curious to know if people find PredictWind accurate in the Pacific. I've been less than impressed with it in Asia and find ZyGrib more useful.



s/v Migration

Re: Satellite Phone

Sun Aug 21, 2016 4:30 pm (PDT) . Posted by:

"Sam Moore" sailing samlex

I’m looking at GMN and Ocens at the present time.

GMN (Global Marine Networks) uses Xgate which also allows me to use Mac/PC as well as IOS/Android to do weather/mail/downloads.

I’d love to hear what others are using and the sat level of these services. I’m using a Iridium Go.

Thanks,  Sam Moore

> On Aug 21, 2016, at 5:36 PM, [Circumnavigation] <> wrote:

> I am looking for new service from my Satellite phone. I am also looking for software for weather and emails. Recommendations? ??

> Jeff & Judy s/v Just Passing Wind


Re: Satellite Phone

Sun Aug 21, 2016 4:50 pm (PDT) . Posted by:

"Bob Bechler" ac7id

Jeff. I am using an Iridium Go. There are apps that use it for email and weather. If you are a ham the new client for Winlink also has an interface so that all of the weather products are accessible.

Bob & Alex Bechler sv Sisiutl Sailing the oceans of the world.

UUPlus ( is US $35/month or $95/3 months or $189/6 months or $357/year. Sailmail ( is US $275/year. Saildocs is a service included in the sailmail subscription. Your Iridium (or other

satphone) subscription is on top of all that as well, of course.

Not cheap, exactly, but worked well for us. We viewed the downloaded

grib files on a Mac running zyGrib (my preferred grib file viewer; many

are available). ZyGrib ( is free.

It was great to have email and get gribs, like any weather forecasts

sometimes not particularly accurate but still better than a poke in the

eye with a sharp stick, thousands of miles from anywhere -- modern-day

communications technology is absolutely fantastic. Strictly personal

preference: I still wouldn't leave port without my HF radio.


s/v Cynosure

Seattle/San Carlos

On Mon 8/22/16 00:54, Thomas Rogowski

[world-cruising] wrote:

> ...use of uuplus software and saildocs grib download

> was for free or had a price tag on it?...

USCG National Security Cutter ...

  Our preferred method for weather prediction is the Internet. We have had Internet access from the boat at most locations, relying primarily on our USB modem from TelCel. On the trip south the only place without Internet via TelCel is Cedros Island. Once south, the only place where there is no Internet access (and you really could use it for weather forecasting) is from Isla Espiritu Santo north to just south of Ensenada Blanca (Bahía Candeleros) in the Sea of Cortez, and from north of Isla Coronado farther north to Bahía Concepción, also in the Sea of Cortez. These are both long stretches of excellent cruising grounds, so after a few days at anchor when your downloaded weather data is out of date, it becomes necessary to rely on SSB radio broadcast forecasts from amateur meteorologists or some other method of obtaining weather information. If you can understand rapid-fire Spanish full of wave heights and wind speeds, the port captains periodically broadcast weather forecasts on the VHF radio on channel 12 or 14 (they are announced first on Channel 16 and come mid-morning and mid-afternoon).

The key to all the Internet weather websites is to add 5 knots to the wind speeds and a few feet to the wave heights, especially in the Sea of Cortez where predicted, pleasant- sounding 15-knot winds may be 20 with gusts to 25, accompanied with short, steep waves — not fun.

I have used PredictWind for years and have found it to be very

accurate. Forecasting tools are a bit of a religious topic, like

anchors and so on. I won't clog the list with stories, but there have

been times it has predicted localized heavy weather events days in

advance, and I have had good luck sailing to the contour lines and

avoiding motor boat rides.

They now have an OffShore app for Windows that downloads long term GRIB forecasts that you can use when out of internet range.

I don't like the Android app, so don't judge them by that. I use my


It is free, but the next level subscription provides better granularity

and is so affordable that it is hardly worth mentioning.


s/v Stella Blue

Synoptic charts are the best source of weather information; they take a bit of understanding to interpret.

You can get text and voice forecasts over the Internet.

When Internet connections are poor you can get some of what you want in a compressed format called gribs. ALL the apps for tablets and smart phones use gribs - the same gribs. The differences are all in presentation. Unfortunately gribs don't show fronts which we really care about.

You are carrying short range communication tools and asking how best to apply them to a long range communication problem. You certainly can on a coastal passage like the one you are planning but it is inconvenient. I call that "sailing the two bar line." *grin* Just ease inshore enough to get a couple of bars and a decent connection once each day.

HF/SSB radio (marine and/or ham) is the best means for long range communication on recreational boats. If you don't want to go that way (and you said you don't plan to) you can get a portable shortwave radio and use your laptop or iPad to receive weather fax (i.e. synoptic charts) from Port Reyes. Total cost including radio, an interconnect cable, and antenna is about $150US.

Alternatively you could rent a satellite phone for the trip and download gribs. Note the downside of gribs above.

sail fast and eat well, dave

S/V Auspicious

I've never heard of needing any sort of special license in Mexico for VHF.

You could get a guest ham license, but I've never heard of any problems

TX'ing in Mexico on ham or SSB frequencies with your US ham call sign or

ship station license call sign.


s/v Cynosure

Seattle / San Carlos

I belive a special Mexican radio license is needed to operate in their waters.

There is no Mexican VHF radio license that I know of. I live in La Paz and use the VHF daily. You should get a Radio Station Authorization from the FCC. It is free and is good for 10 years. You describe your boat and emergency contacts. You will end up with a MMSI number that you should program into your radio and EPIRB. Also get a Restricted Radiotelephone Operators Permit. This costs money but is good forever.

If you at least have a VHF with DSC in it then in an emergency you can hit the SOS button and transmit your position and boat information (MMSI) with one button.

We made the trip from Newport, OR to Sea of Cortez last year. We left in early Sep. and reached SoCal a week after the HaHa departure.We used the NOAA mobile app and NOAA weather channels on VHF. The VHF is much easier if you record it for playback. Our offshore cell coverage was pretty good with AT&T whenever there was a highway or town on the shore.We also tracked weather on PredictWind which covers Mexico where NOAA doesn't.


In SoCal we stayed in Channel Islands, Oxnard and at Two Harbors, Catalina, then visited Long Beach and moved to a Terminal Island marina in Los Angeles harbor. Moorage fees at Catalina drop by nearly half on Nov 1. We had a long delay in SoCal and started south again in Jan. We stayed overnight in San Diego and again day-tripped down Baja. We took 3 weeks to Cabo. I also like the anchorages and villages on that trip. I should have taken longer... Our AT&T voice coverage was good anywhere there was a village on shore and at most anchorages. The data connection was sometimes not as good as voice. PredictWind gives a grib-like display at 3 hour intervals for a week in an area you pick. If you can't refresh it every day you can still review what was on your phone at your last connection.

We also went down without SSB or Ham radio. Above La Paz inside the Sea of Cortez cell coverage is much more sparse. I hooked up an old ham radio to an antenna to receive the cruising nets for weather.

Have a great trip!


MatchBox, Gemini 105Mc

Anchoring in San Diego is quite easy and you won't be competing with the HaHa. Check in with the port police and request to anchor at the A9 anchorage. They will have a special anchorage for the HaHa boats. You can anchor at A9 for up to 3 months in a year. You can NOT be a San Diego resident.

FOr weather go to my site and on the right side under passage planning I have many sites that provide weather. Additionally for huricanes check


s/v FatDash

"In general, it's hard to say that one is more accurate than another in all domains," he said. "But I would say that companies like the Weather Channel and AccuWeather are definitely interested in accuracy and invest in making sure that their processes and models and meteorologists are at the forefront of technology."

We had Pantaneous until the summer of 2015 when they changed their rules about storing boats in the Caribbean. What worked for the summer of 2014, to everyone’s surprise, didn't in 2015. We use a broker, Falvey Yacht Insurance, and Nick had to scramble to find another company for his clients who leave their boats in the Caribbean during the summer months. The company he switched us to was Maritime Insurance. Don’t know how good they are when you put in a claim, but isn’t that the way with insurance?

There are many different sources available for weather.  But you asked for opinions, so here is mine.

Passage Weather is good for macro views like approaching storm system.

Sail Flow and Windyty give nice graphical data.  I like to look at Pocket grub too.

Check out to get Geary's weather insights on the Sea of Cortez and points south.

Lastly eebmike does a great job monitoring the Baja and Pacific Mexico for storms.

Pat Williams

S/V Starshine

San Carlos, Sonora Mex

My experience coming down the coast was that you can get good cell coverage offshore in WA and OR, sometimes over 20 miles out. CA not so much. On top of using a weather router, we used, and for our sources. These work well for most places from Neah Bay to La Paz. Offshore cell coverage disappears south of Point Loma in San Diego.

My personal suggestion would be to follow the Ha Ha not proceed it. Space in San Diego is limited although you can use the cruisers anchorage for an extended time. The public/police docks are another option.

It seems that the Baha Haha have run into a tropical storm or weather most every year. The late season storms come up the outside of Baja late in the season vs. heading west. The 2015 Cubar rally ran into weather as well.

That's my opinion, it's worth what it cost you.

Randy Sysol

If this is your first time I highly recommend you DO join the Ha-ha.  We have done it four times and even though I feel capable of doing the trip alone, the marina and other discounts more than makeup for the entry fee.  And the weather, routing, VHF relays local knowledge and other help and advice is invaluable.  I'm sure others will disagree but having 100-150 other boats carrying so many spares with crews that include doctors, dentists, paramedics, sail makers, riggers, mechanics, etc. makes for a safer journey and peace of mind.  If you are not a joiner or don't want to meet other sailors you will see wherever you go, at least download the free cruising Mexico first timer's guide which will answer even questions you didn't think to ask.  Fair winds and good luck,


Its a long time ago, (2007) but we found it to be much more interesting to bypass any stay in San Diego and head to Marina Coral in Ensenada for the month of October.  We found a slip in Oxnard, CA for September.  It is a lot more accessible than San Diego and has all that you will need.  We finished our USA fitting out there, then headed south.  Coral is an upscale marina, with a nice cruiser community,  Ensenada is a great introduction to MX, and the wine country of the Guadalupe Valley is right there.

We let the Ha Ha fleet sail past in early Nov, (this year they leave on Halloween) and departed a few days after them and spent about 3 weeks going down Baja slowly - its a real interesting place, with lots of anchorages behind the headlands and out of the wind.  It should not be passed up.

good luck.

Gary Barnett

SV Gallant Fox

lying San Carlos  MX

Cell coverage is notoriously unreliable offshore - even the mere five miles offshore you propose to travel. I am of the opinion that maintaining a five mile distance from shore on an extended voyage, such as that you are proposing, is exceedingly dangerous. On my voyage from California to Guatemala, I was typically between 20 and 60 miles offshore. Land is no friend to boats and having a good offing gives one security and avoids all the coastal recreational and fishing traffic.

Do your weather forecasts when in port and use your radar underway.

Happy sailing, mate.

I plan to begin a voyage south to the Sea of Cortez from Port Angeles WA on about Aug. 29. Would list members say what they found was the best weather source  that was accessible from about 5 miles off the coast of WA, OR and CA? I will not be using SSB or HAM but will have cell phone and iPad that can connect to T-mobile and AT%T.

We plan to first travel to SF Bay and then leave for the south about October 17. I do not wish to join the HaHa fleet. I am thinking it would be best to leave San Diego a few days before the HaHa fleet so as not to be competing for space and facilities  when we eventually arrive to LaPaz. That means we go down the coast of Baha a few days before the official end of hurricane season. We of course won’t leave if there is a predicted depression or worse.

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The boat I was on in the South Pacific for the first half of this year

had an Iridium phone (sorry, don't remember if it was a 9505 or a 9555)

and service through an outfit called Blue Cosmo (, in

Seattle. To that was attached a Mac laptop with UUPlus software

( With that we could send and receive emails and via

Saildocs download GRIB files for weather. Worked great. No vested

interest in any of the above; just an end user.


s/v Cynosure

Seattle/San Carlos

I don’t think you can do better than through Luis Soltero at Global Marine Networks

We used their service for 10 years in the Caribbean for weather and E-mail via Iridium.  It never skipped a beat.  Luis is a former cruiser so he knows what cruisers need and don’t need.  He gets it.  

Glenn Tuttle - Moderator

Cruisers Network Online

M/V Tothill


Okay. I'm really late to this party. But I've been offline for a few

days. Here's my personal take on the subject.

Sat-phone (note: I =don't= have/really want one) vs HF radio (note: I

have one)

Sat-phone: the "+'s (according to me):

I can call anyone I want to (as long as I have the number and maybe no

one will answer if I do) and it looks like and acts like the cell phone

I have gotten used to over the years. So, I don't have to learn anything

but I can't have a long conversation (well, I could if my pockets were

deep enough) to catch up on the months or years since I have seen the

person called (whose number may have changed several times in the

interim). Or if something is broken I can call that unknown boat just

over the horizon out of radar range who has what I need to make the

repair ===IF=== I have their phone number and maybe if they have their

phone on. Or if I am sinking I can grab my 406 EPIRB and head for the

liferaft (if it is that bad at present) or call the USCG directly IF I

can't fix the problem and will loose the boat.

The "-'s" (also according to me):

Expensive air time for much of anything except for text messages and

GRIB files. Not something I would want to talk to someone whose birthday

it is and get caught up on the family history. You can only call people

who you have phone numbers for. Your life and vessel could depend on

someone for whom you have no phone number and who could be just over the horizon out of radar range. If your phone service provider decides to

stop supporting your chip or something else while you are in the middle

of nowhere and you ==can't== make the change they expect you to go to

their store "tomorrow" to make before they shut off your service you

could lose your life/vessel in an emergency.

HF radio: the "+'s (according to me):

You have to know what frequencies you can and can NOT use without a HAM license and which frequencies you can use with your level of HAM

license. It's relatively easy to get a HAM license but you do have to

study and take a couple of tests. You can talk to people just over the

horizon and out of radar range and also to people who are thousands of

miles away. You can get a phone "patch" to people who only have a

telephone and can have some lengthy conversations with those phone only

people but be kind to the person doing the patch. I think the USCG still

monitor certain frequencies. WINLINK allows you to send email (no

business email). After the purchase of equipment and passing the tests

there is no cost. If you take the time to check in to the various nets

in the area you are traveling, you will be missed if you don't check in

and people might be looking for you.

The "-'s" (also according to me):

The initial cost of the radio and Pactor modem is relatively high. You

have to study and pass tests to use it legally unless it is an actual

emergency. (There are people out there who actually check on this

stuff.) Weather and time of day can have an effect on how far you can

reach with "voice." You have to search for a station that is up when you

send your email. You could take on water and your batteries could be

under water and your radio not work at all. If you are stuck in an

"aluminum forest" (aka marina) your reception can be minimal; but then

most people we are in contact with know we are often out of range and

when we do connect it is short and "just the facts" as necessary, but

that is a positive.

Basically, if I were rich I'd do both. But with limited cash, I prefer

to have my HF radio plus an satellite enabled EPIRB and a liferaft. In

my mind it is all about survival ===not convenience=== (and in my mind

that is what a sat-phone is unless you must have it for business

purposes.) and I think I have a better chance of survival in case of

problems. (Are you cruising to experience the rest of the world or are

you feeling like you MUST stay connected to everything you have left to

get to the place where you are?) Yes, there are people who go without a

sat phone or HF radio just simply a VHF radio and dinghy and maybe an

EPIRB (we know some) but that's not me/us. Also, I plan ahead and try to

have most problems solved with something else onboard before I go

anyplace. "Stuff" does happen out there and not every voyage no matter

how long or short is the tradewinds story you usually read about. I'd

rather read a story about "this happened and I fixed it this way with

this tool, etc." than the swaying palm trees and gentle breezes. But...I

have digressed to another (but related) subject for another time.


S/V La Vita

1987 Hans Christian 33T

Currently: Lying La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Nayarit, Mexico