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Thread: VHF and/or satellite phone for PWS west?

  1. #1
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    Default VHF and/or satellite phone for PWS west?

    Hello,
    We will paddle next summer in PWS west, maybe near Icy Bay.
    Is it worth taking our VHF (I think our european VHF is OK for US?) or is there so few boats that it would be better to rent a satellite phone?
    Marie

  2. #2
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    VHF will work if other boats in that area, and usualy someone out that way in the summer. If I was paddling around out that far I would want a Sat. phone, on my boat I have an Epirb, VHF and a Spot in case I get in trouble.

  3. #3

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    Take your VHF.
    Learn the channels that are used in the US, and their designated functions.
    Strongly consider taking a sat phone, too.

  4. #4
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    Default I would bring both

    The VHF will not receive the weather report in the bays and Fjords of Prince William Sound. It will receive the weather near the towns of Whittier and Chenega, and near the main body of PWS.

    With the Satellite phone you can call 1-800-472-0391 for the weather forecast.

    Be aware, a satellite phone can be blocked by topography and (more likely) heavy cloud cover and rain.

    If you can afford to bring both, I think it would bring you peace of mind.

    West PWS is amazing! Have fun.

  5. #5

    Default VHF

    I would definitely bring the VHF and if you have space, throw in the sat phone. The VHF would be primary as it would be the one of the two options that could get help to you quickly. Anyone you can call on the sat phone is going to be a good distance away. VHF will get to someone nearby who can actually do something for you right now. In most areas, I believe the base channel for VHF is 16. Make contact on that channel and then move to another channel to talk.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattseakayaker View Post
    The VHF will not receive the weather report in the bays and Fjords of Prince William Sound. It will receive the weather near the towns of Whittier and Chenega, and near the main body of PWS.

    With the Satellite phone you can call 1-800-472-0391 for the weather forecast.

    Be aware, a satellite phone can be blocked by topography and (more likely) heavy cloud cover and rain.

    If you can afford to bring both, I think it would bring you peace of mind.

    West PWS is amazing! Have fun.
    I would bring both as well. PWS is a spectacular place that can go from flat calm to flat put crazy in minutes. I have a 21ft boat and I use a VHF, PLB, and a sat phone.

    One note on sat phones, many will not dial 800 numbers because Iridium based calls originate from over seas. I learned this the hard way. Try it before you need it.

    Steve

  7. #7
    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    Default add the spot

    If nothing more, the price that you save by getting their rescue insurance makes it worth it. But you have to get it when you buy the spot.

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    Thanks everybody for your answers.
    In France we have a special channel to get weather with VHF (with an automatic message) Does it exist in Alaska?
    Marie

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by chatpacha View Post
    Thanks everybody for your answers.
    In France we have a special channel to get weather with VHF (with an automatic message) Does it exist in Alaska?
    Marie
    I believe there are special "weather" channels. The problem is that in many locations, you won't be able to get the signal due to distance from the source or too much in the way. Others could probable speak to this a little better though.

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    Default PWS ...more info

    Marie:
    Try this link: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/boating/index.htm You can find a ton of great safety information including the Alaska Boater's Handbook, Prince William Sound Supplement and a link to Cold Water Boating DVD. Please email me or post if you have more specific questions. Boat Safe!

    Mike Folkerts
    Recreational Boating Safety Specialist
    United States Coast Guard
    (907) 463-2297
    michael.r.folkerts@uscg.mil

  11. #11
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    Thanks Mike for this very useful link.
    Can you please tell me where can I find this brochure :
    Prince William Sound Communications published by the U.S. Coast Guard

    Marie

  12. #12
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    While paddling a sea kayak out on the water in PWS the VHF in a waterproof/submersible is the better option for communication.

    A sat phone is a nice item to have. However, in waves splashing and wind-driven rains they are downright easy to get wet and will fail easily. Failures with regards to: 100% humidity conditions --- the potential inability to deploy antenna, turn it on, talk, or set it down momentarily when kayaking with rain-showers/sea-spray/wave-splashes --- and any incidental submersion without waterproof/submersible protection. This is the real problem with most available SAT phones for sale or rental... they must be kept dry!!!

    SAT phones also do not do deal well with shock (like dropping). Gives all new meaning to a dropped call and broken phone when you (and others 'on the receiving end' I might add) may be counting on reliable communication. This is why most recommend and use a padded waterproof box for storage.

    One poster's comment in this thread is inaccurate:

    Iridium phones do not 'originate' overseas! They are a ground direct from your position and phone, networking to sat system, then sat system networking to another phone or computer application etc. Part of this whole network does include a billing verification process via SIM that will account to somewhere - 'our/my' services are in USA.

    Nevertheless.... the poster does more or less relate a point that maybe your 'provider' is providing service from some international source... so yes good idea to know your phone.

    I won't go into personal location devices. The websites for those are good reads.

    All the info, video, and so on are certainly resources to get familiar with Alaska waters from a distance. The point of this stuff is to get your head in the game beforehand.

    Not to step on any toes here and I'm certain most would agree -

    Good equipment/technology helps but any reliance on communication devices aside... you and only you (or group) are the front line for safety. This means having a good head on your shoulders, making a comprehensive float plan (w/ harbor master for example and others like maybe the Kayak rental outfitter), wearing PFDs w/ suitable outerwear, knowing your strengths and weaknesses as paddlers, having 'sound' strategy, paying attention to recognize signs of trouble before problems can occur, and if in distress - know how to deal with the situation or who/how to make contact with those that can help.

    Luck of the draw, paddling PWS is a magical place to be on-water. PWS can also deal some pretty harsh cards with weather and water conditions any time of year.

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