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E-mail at Sea

Category: Communications

Contributed by Dick Bishop

Summary: Eileen and Dick Bishop will help you get started with email while at sea.
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As more Nauticat cruisers get their ham radio license, we will try to establish a Nauticat net on the 20 meter ham band. Currently, Jack Webb, and Dick Bishop are meeting at 09:00 EST on Sundays on 14.300 Mhz and then switching to a clear frequency. Please join us.

E-mail has become a part of everyday life for most of us, so it is a natural extension to want e-mail while traveling on our boats. Well, it is possible, and fairly easy to do, but a little help getting started is very important. Also, having e-mail capability gives you access to hundreds of weather products, warnings, and safety tips from the bulletin boards of the stations providing the HF/Internet link. Whether in the waterway or off-shore, the safety and peace of mind of being in contact with friends and relatives is worth the time and effort to get linked on board.

The basic equipment is the computer, HF-SSB radio, and a radio modem. The software, Airmail, is free courtesy of Jim Corenmen “s/v Heart of Gold”. The two basic ways to use the system are through a commercial service like SailMail which costs about $200/ year or via ham radio which is provided free by volunteer amateur radio operators around the world. The system uses software called Winlink that provides for the transfer of data from HF radio to the Internet.

This document will give you sources of information, equipment, and software needed to get started. Another resource is the cruising Nauticat owners who are already using the systems. They are on Moonlight Fantasy, Denali Rose, Black Cat, and Triumph.

In addition to e-mail, the HF-SSB radio can be used to:

  • stay in touch with friends
  • check into scheduled nets
  • monitor weather reports
  • listen to short-wave news broadcast