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Iridium GO! Review For Sailing Cruisers

iridium GONeed to stay connected while at sea? If you are working while cruising like we are, the answer is YES! Many cruising sailors struggle with finding a workable and affordable solution for communications while at sea or in remote locations. Stephen and I discovered the Iridium GO! last year while shopping for a global mobile communications solution for our new Lagoon 450S. It worked so well for our needs that it basically set us free to roam the planet.

Technology has come a long way in telecommunications and mobility since we first set sail more than 25 years ago! Back then, we used an SSB radio to get weather and stay in touch with other cruisers. Later, in 2004, for our ocean crossing from Africa to South America, we used a satellite phone. Both SSB radios and satellite phones are still viable options and work well. But a Sat phone's equipment and airtime are expensive. The SSB equipment is also expensive, is not portable, and requires a bit of a learning curve.

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Iridium GO!: Our Current Communications Set-Up At Sea

Iridium Go

UPDATED 08/16/16 See our new article, Iridium GO! Review for details on how we set it up and how we used it.

For our upcoming ocean passage we are planning to use the Iridium GO!. Crossing from the Canary Islands to Miami will take us about 20 days. During that time, we have to be in contact with our clients. Not only will we be selling boats, we will also be closing on some deals. So, communication is vital to us. We have done a lot of research for the best option and the Iridium GO! unit sounds like the perfect choice for us. It’s designed for data and voice with an “unlimited data” plan, so high per-minute data charges should not be an issue.

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How To Save On Internet Data While Blue-Water Cruising

Siyaya Nav Station2Looking to spend less on internet data while sailing the world? Unlimited data and bandwidths that will stream video that most North American landlubbers enjoy on their computers and mobile phones are not a reality for seagoing cruisers. We have a mobile business and are fairly reliant on the Internet. We have done some homework and research to try and find the best way to stay connected, save on usage and expense and therefor be free to roam the world. We would like to share some of our tips…and hope you will let us know if you have a tip for reducing the cost of internet data usage while cruising.

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Banking for Cruisers

Banking for Cruisers

We have been travelling a lot more abroad of late on business and it forced me to brush up on my "overseas banking savvy". When we first started cruising in the early nineties, we went to our local bank in South Africa, requested 10,000 Rand (about $4,200 at R2.35 to the dollar) in US dollar currency (smaller bills) and the same in traveller's checks (sadly, no Kruger Rands). This was the sum total of our cruising kitty for about two years. We found several good hiding spots on the boat and secured our stash. There were no debit cards, prepaid travelers check cards or online banking. Thankfully banking has come a long way and if you can find a good secure connection, you can do your banking, no problem.

My best advice: Find a bank that has good online tools (most big banks do now) and has mobile banking available, so you can manage your accounts from the web anywhere in the world. You want to be able to transfer money from one account to another, transfer money to and from accounts in foreign countries (usually by phone with a secure pin), pay your bills and have good security.

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Abandon ship bag / ditch bag / grab bag

survival kitIf you are going to cruise offshore on your sailboat, you will need among its emergency equipment an abandon ship bag, also called a ditch or grab bag. Never assume that you will be safe close to shore either because wind or current might carry you in a liferaft or dinghy away from a possible rescue area. Even if you have communication gear, never assume that rescue will come before you would need your grab bag. Life rafts typically have only minimal gear because of space and weight limitations, so make sure that your grab bag is well stocked for your personal needs. Before getting into the life raft, grab your passports / licenses in ziplock bags, wet weather gear and life jackets or PFD's. 

The Bag (or airtight bottle in our case)

Commercially available bags are relatively inexpensive and usually the best way to ensure the bag has all the right characteristics like positive flotation, being waterproof, has visible reflective strips, is of sufficient size, and a long lanyard is secured to the handles. When you have to throw it overboard, you will need to secure it to the life raft or yourself so as not to loose it.

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