I was looking since a while to find a solution how to keep contact with friends and family while on the boat. Obviously it has to be some satellite device, which means quite expensive – not only the device itself but the communication itself.
First decision was to go for the Iridium network, as it has the highest coverage (apparently) and you don’t need 15 min to position your device targeting exactly the satellite. In addition there is more gear available for Iridium. After a short contemplation to go with the Iridium GO access point I found a much better solution which perfectly serves our needs at a substantially lower price:
The Delorme inReach SE should exactly fit. The device itself is at ~300 EUR. You need a plan with it, which can be as low as 12 USD / month. However, for roughly 64 USD/Month (or 79 EUR!) you basically have a flatrate on SMS and emails (140 chars). The communication is bidirectional, this means that friends and family can contact/answer you and can follow your exact position, speed, etc. You can as well post updates/messages to Twitter, Facebook…
It offers a set of additional features like international SOS and some SAR service (which we’ll hopefully not need) and more important weather forecasts for any position on the globe. (the marine weather forcasts which include a bit more information costs unfortunately 1-2 USD/7-day forecast… so we’ll have to see if the basic is enough)
The nice part is that you can pair the inReach with a smartphone/tablet and use the Delorme app to write messages more conveniently (and check weather, etc.). It can as well track the journey saving as often as every 10min the position over satellite to… the cloud – which means a Delorme/Garmin MapShare page. You get a unique URL which can as well be shared so that people follow you and can send you messages directly from this web page.
I can’t wait to get the device and test it out – from the specs, manuals and internet reports it seems quite good.
Here’s the device (older model, there’s a newer, more expensive one by Garmin):