No sailor today should venture out on the water without some form of radio communication. Under optimum conditions the signal will reach around the world.
NAME: Marine SSB Operation
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: J Michael Gale
PUBLISHER: Wiley Nautical, fernhurst
BINDING: Soft back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: single side band, high fre-
quency, ground wave, ocean yacht com-
No sailor today should venture out on the water without some form of radio communication. Even in sheltered inland waters, emergencies can arise that require external help. The potential difficulty is that radio communications are limited by the number of channel frequencies available for all of the uses of radio. To allow an increasing number of people and organizations to use radio waves for communications, international agreement divided the radio spectrum into a number of bands, each allocated for a specific use and with national and operational allocations. The result is that the inland sailor is best served by mobile telephones and Citizen Band radio. Small pocket size UHF hand sets that use CB channels are limited to a range of less than 3 kilometres and mobile phones are limited by the land-based network coverage that extends accidentally offshore. As mobile phones have become very popular internationally, the coverage has increased on the landmasses and around the coastal fringes. VHF radio continues to be popular amongst coastal and offshore sailors because it is a low cost and effective method of short-range coverage where communication over distances of up to 60 kilometres are practical. For true global coverage, satphone communications are now becoming much more common on ocean yachts in both installed and portable equipment. For ease of use, they are very similar to land-based mobile phone equipment, but even more costly in terms of metered unit costs and network costs. They also rely on the called party being available. As marine communication includes emergency calls and incidents require the most rapid attendance of rescue vessels, the system that requires a number to be dialled and answered by the called party is not ideal. For sinking emergencies, EPIRB distress beacons fill part of the requirement, but that leaves a number of emergency situations inadequately covered by mobile phones, satphones and international distress radio beacons. The VHF marine radio telephone fills a part of that gap but its short range means that it is inadequate for ocean yachts. At this point, the marine SSB radio completes the communications coverage. As with marine VHF, it is a broadcast system in that any vessel listening in to SSB channels will receive the signals. Under even the most adverse radio conditions, the signal will reach much further than VHF. Under optimum conditions the signal will reach around the world. The author has provided a detailed theoretical and practical guide to the acquisition and licensing of SSB equipment, the licensing of operators and the installation and use. He has also provided a perspective of SSB against alternative radio communications systems. It is a well-written book that should be read by every sailor contemplating a voyage beyond sight of shore.