Boaters can now take advantage of inexpensive satellite communications, and use their cell phone to text via Iridium anywhere, any time.
Last year, the SPOT Connect (which uses Bluetooth to connect your cell phone with a SPOT satellite communicator, at $169 for the unit plus $99 a year to activate it) was introduced, and it allowed you to send one-way texts on your cell no matter where the nearest cell tower was located. But it only goes one way, and can’t receive messages. Then, the GeoPro, a dedicated satellite texting unit, was introduced. It allows two-way messages, but list cost for the hardware is expensive ($699) plus there are subscription fees ($17.50 a month) and data fees ($0.20 per message). Though each of these systems have their own weaknesses, the ability to text from the middle of a backcountry marsh or from 100 miles offshore is pretty darn handy. And as technology marches on at a breakneck speed, this ability is getting even better.
Now a new satellite texter has been introduced: the DeLorme inReach. This system can be used by itself or paired with either an Android smartphone or a DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w handheld GPS. On its own, the inReach can send SOS messages to the authorities, pre-loaded text messages to designated recipients, and allow activate remote tracking so others can keep track of your location. Paired up with your Android or the DeLorme handheld GPS, hoever, it provides full-featured, two-way text messaging (up to 160 characters per message) to and from email addresses and cell phones – as well as one-touch SOS messenging.
Now, for the best part: the price jump to take advantage of this two-way, anywhere, any time texting, is downright cheap: the unit is expected to list for around $250, and the monthly fees at around $10. Whether you run a duck boat through a marshy maze or cruise a fishboat out of sight of land, the safety and communications advantages this texting ability provides is obvious – and it’s a fraction of the price of an EPIRB, much less a sat-phone, or even a cell booster (which is less reliable). If you travel to remote locations with your boat, now is definitely the time to consider arming yourself with these forms of inexpensive satellite communications systems for boaters.