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We calculated yesterday that Katana has been shrink-wrapped for approx. 6 weeks now. As I wanted to obtain my rock climbing harness which was still onboard Katana we decided yesterday to “break the seal” and go onboard. As you can see from the image below we had the guy who shrink wrapped her install a zippered door. Unfortunately the ladder we brought was a little short so it was a tad challenging to get in. I managed to do so without incident but we learned our lesson and will bring a taller ladder next time.

We had some really serious winds the other day so I am not sure if that was the cause but there were a few small tears/punctures in several places along the top of the shrink wrap. I used some duct tape to repair the holes. Hopefully that will hold and there wont be any more. We need to get back on board in a week or two and charge up the batteries (we were told to do that a couple of times over the winter). We’ll be able to check for any additional holes at that time.

It was a big jump to get in.

One of the things on our shopping list for Katana has been a SSB radio. Many cruisers swear by the benefits of being able to communicate over long distances with this type of radio and there are apparently many organized “cruiser’s nets” which are helpful to participate in. An additional feature of some SSB radios is their ability to send and receive email through a special modem. The price of a new setup like this (ICOM M802 + AT 140 tuner + Pactor III modem) would be over 5k installed. Ouch! Yesterday I read online where a seemingly very experienced radio guy in the US is selling off some older, but still strong and working radios, for a lot less money. A LOT! The downside to this particular radio is that it is not well suited for email (even though I have read where some people have been able to make it work). Given the price of the modem to send the email, which from what I see is over $1000.00, I think we’ll be working to beef up our Wifi capabilities for internet connectivity and rely primarily on that.

The radio we are looking at: Kenwood TKM-707.


  1. Mike,
    To SSB or not to SSB – of all the boat decisions, this is the one that has kept me stymied. Still haven’t decided. For catamarans, which antenna system to install is, by itself, giving me brain lock. I have thought this whole issue through from A-Z and still haven’t made a final decision. I am hoping for an inexpensive satellite solution to pop up soon. I agree that we can send an awful lot of wifi emails for the amount of $$ saved from not purchasing a Pactor modem. Good luck with this one.

    • Hi Kirk

      I am getting a brain hemorrhage from all of these decisions! The electronics stuff is the most frustrating for me as I actually studied this stuff in college, 20 some years ago. Now I remember absolutely nothing!!!

      I have been communicating with the seller of the radio in question, and he obviously knows what he is doing and has done a bunch of these installs. I think we may very well wait until we get to the Chesapeake area and have him install it for us next summer.

      • Bill Trayfors by chance?

          • I have Bill in the que for install assistance, as well, assuming we elect to go with SSB. Still not sure it is worth the $$$. At this point, one of the main determining factors is the Carribean 1500. We haven’t decided on participation yet and one of their requirements is to have SSB on board. In the meantime, Donna and I have registered for their spring seminar in Annapolis and I plan to discuss the issue with Steve Black then.

            • Interesting. I copied down their (Carib 1500) required safety equipment list some time ago. Outside of the SSB, which we are planning on going ahead with, we have decided (at this time) not to invest in a liferaft, which I see on their list.

              • Yes, liferaft is an issue with them, as well. We have a 2 year old coastal that came with the boat and I am hard presses to replace it with an offshore model, considering the benefits of a cat.

  2. Mike,

    Look into a SSB Receiver…. You can benefit from the cruisers nets broadcast, but just won’t be able to communicate with them.


    • Hi Mark

      Thanks. I had considered that but ultimately decided on a transceiver. I sent off the money an hour ago for the Kenwood unit. I am going to have Bill install it next summer when we get to the Chesapeake area.

  3. Here is MY view of SSB.

    Installation –

    1 – Actually dead simple to install – the gear-heads and technical jargon make it seem way more technical than it really is.
    2- NO through-hulls or Dynaplate required to establish the ground plane, just three lengths of braided copper wire (tinned) running through your bilge.
    3 – Antenna – use either the 23′ whip style (less $$, but where to place AND support gets more complicated), or install into one of your side stays (bulletproof but a few more $$$)

    To pactor or not to pactor –

    If you want to send e-mail while underway (or in very remote locations) and/or get weather “fax” data while underway, AND the email you want to send/receive is NOT commercial or BIG (text only please!), then get it. Otherwise, WiFi is prevalent enough that it is an just extra expense.

    To SSB or not to SSB –

    Yes, the bigger question for last! This could be one of those “personality” traits. Do you lean toward gear-headedness? Do you like to spend time trying to hear scratchy broadcasts at weird times of the day?

    Those questions aside, you have probably already heard the other pros for getting an SSB and they are true:

    1 – It may be the ONLY way to communicate once you are more than 20 – 25 miles offshore.
    2 – There are some very good ‘nets’ out there for safety and weather, plus it can help to cement some friendships and reconnect to your new cruising friends who come and go (too) frequently in this life.
    3 – WX info while on a passage such as Herb Hilgenberg (Southbound II). For us, his advice alone was worth the purchase.

    Fair Winds,

    • Thanks Mike. I actually almost sent you a message on Facebook yesterday to ask you your opinion on this but I figured you would be too busy enjoying that nice Trinidadian weather, and getting you wind genny up and running. 🙂

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