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dnelson 12-28-2006 11:24 PM

Skymate Cruising Satelite email - review
Just a quick review of the Skymate Satelite email system.

Iīve been using the system for just over one month now and have reasonably good results. There were a few teething pains in getting the antenna located (found a horizontal mount was the most effective.)

The user interface is quite intuitive, and if anything too simple to use (no user adjustable settings, or options.) Depending on satelite availablity an email goes off in ten or twenty minutes.

The weather request program has been copied directly from the NOAA website. Weather reports are supplied by NOAA and arrive less than half an hour after requesting them.

All of these results have been obtained in the Caribbean. The coverage in the south pacific is supposed to be a bit spotty from the Marquessas to New Zealand. You also have to sign up for other Gateways. We are only signed up for American gateway right now - which covers north, south and central america and the caribbean. Extra costs are involved to use other gateways.

Overall cost of the system is much cheaper than anyother sat system, but sailmail, and winlink still beat it for usage costs.

Jack Tyler 12-29-2006 10:07 PM

Dave, tell us a bit about the weather products Skymate (via NOAA) is offering you. E.g. can you download:

-- synoptic (graphic) views of the SW N Atlantic and Caribbean? 500 mb as well as surface synoptics?

-- wind and wave (graphic) charts?

-- for what time periods do the text f'casts apply (e.g. longer than 3-48 hrs, perhaps a 5 day prog?)


dnelson 01-01-2007 07:16 PM

You can get pretty much any chart that NOAA offers on their web site (including the five day forcast). The only question would be the cost of getting the charts (GIF format) since the packages you pay for are based on the ammount of data transfered. The Highest package only allows 50,000 bytes free per month, then $1.20 per 1,000 bytes ( typical GIF file would be 45-50,000 bytes) cost could add up fast. These are all the same charts you could get by Weatherfax - but without the waiting, and without having to check the transmission shcedule. There were several other graphic weather charts available also (in addition to the NOAA ones) but the same caveat would apply.

The system also allows you to automatically send your position to a list of email addresses twice a day (included in the highest package cost.) but you have to get the optional GPS antena - I hade no luck trying to get the system to read Nema 0183 format GPS data, and the customer support and user help the system gives you is one area where Skymate could improve.

I would think the system would best be used for short messages home to keep in touch, and for emergencies.

Jack Tyler 01-01-2007 09:00 PM

Thanks, Dave. Very helpful info that gives a better perspective on where Skymate 'fits' aboard the average cruising boat. Like other Satcomm systems, it seems a fair summary to say it's reliable, available 24/7, useful for emergency comms, and easy to use, but not cost effective as a primary source of real-time wx data gathering...and perhaps also not effective as a primary email tool (if the crew is quite active in that department).


dnelson 01-02-2007 02:55 PM

Yes Jack, I think that is a fair assesment. More reliable, and convenient than SSB, but also more costly. Note: Coverage only extends to within 1000 miles of shore, which leaves a lot of the South Pacific without coverage. So in summary, a useful tool, but doesn't do it all.

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