Wednesday, July 29, 2015

DeLorme inReach - Just the ticket.

Full disclosure, I sell these things in West Marine.  I got a loan of one from the company for my recent Transatlantic along with a paid subscription (Extreme Plan).

But, that said, I love this device.

In case anyone has been living in a cave for the last 20 years, communications when going offshore on a SMALL boat falls into two categories;

  1. SSB Radio.
  2. Some sort of Satellite communications.

SSB Radio, for those willing to invest the time, money and effort is still the gold standard, IMHO.

For satellite communications you have three main options;

  • Satellite phone
  • Transmit only txt and position messages - e.g. Spot.
  • Transmit and Receive txt and position messages- e.g. inReach

Satellite phone;
I have been on a number of long sailing trips with satellite phones and my experience with them has been universally horrible.  They are expensive to buy, talk time is expensive, data download is a joke, they have no tracking ability etc.   Their use in a chaotic abandon ship situation is very questionable.

Spot is fine and I really have no issue with it, except that it is a transmit only device.  You have no idea if your messages are getting through.

This device performed flawlessly on my recent trip.  There is a bit of a learning curve setting up the system but their help desk is outstanding.  It tracked our journey across the Atlantic and I was able to send txt messages from my iPhone to the device via bluetooth.  The only issue was to convince my wife and friends that they could simply reply with a txt message.  I was able to receive news txt messages about the US presidential campaign while in Mid-Atlantic (which is the only downside I encountered with the device).  In conjunction with an Epirb it would be an outstanding safety device.

Costs;  The device costs $300 (SE Version).  For someone just doing the snowbird Bahamas and the East coast US the “Freedom plan” would suffice.  This carries an annual fee of $24.95, but you only pay for months you need.  With all their plans “Preset messages” are unlimited.  You no longer have to seek out a wifi signal to let people know that you are safe and well.  On the cheaper plans, with limited txt messaging, if the poop hits the fan 50cents a txt message would be the least of your worries. 

As I say in my sales pitch, you absolutely DO NOT need any of these devices.  If, however, you are looking at a sat phone, you need to investigate the inReach.