SSB was a decision that we had trouble with initially. I dutifully studied for my ham license (thank goodness they do not require morse code any longer). When it came to choosing a radio and installing it… I did my best to put off the decision as long as possible. Actually long enough to not have a working installation on our first sailing sabbatical in the Caribbean.. We missed having SSB.
I knew we wanted an SSB for the Pacific crossing but I also knew that I did not want to cut my back stay for the antenna or run copper sheeting around the boat for the ground. There were some ‘experts’ who insisted this was the ONLY way to install an SSB. They were wrong.
Our SSB uses a GAM split lead antenna that simply clips on to the outermost side STBD stay… And since we have an aluminum boat… We successfully used a small inexpensive device to attach (and isolate power) our ground to the hull. It works!
The advantages of an SSB are numerous:
– we can participate in all the radio nets
– we can listen daily to weather being discussed by experts… And ask questions
– we can set up our own nets to keep in touch with friends
– we can listen to Shortwave Broadcasts (from every other country but our own! Don’t get me started on Canadian politics).
– we have another method of emergency communication should we need it
– ham radio operators are some truly amazing people. They are always listening and always there to help in a crisis.
– many connect a special modem and use the SSB for email and weather. Since we have a Iridium Pilot (see related post)… we do not need to use our SSB for data.
We were lucky enough to find a good used Icom 802 on eBay. The brand new matching antenna tuner cost us almost as much as the radio. I believe the cost of the SSB for us… all in… was under $2500. A very good investment IMHO.
Very hard to imagine NOT having one.