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The TRXPTC installed on the sailing yacht SILVER CLOUD

Enable to be reached via E-mail on his sailing yacht, SILVER CLOUD, Connie Muller decided to have the TRXPTC built into an ICOM M710 Marine Short Wave Transceiver. In the rough sailing area around South Africa this combination has truly proved itself.

The TRXPTC installed on the sailing yacht SILVER CLOUD

Captain Connie

 

“It is quite the normal madness”,'

SY Seaa Cloud is leaving Knysna Heads
SY Sea Cloud is leaving Knysna

says Connie as we chat via Skype about his experiences with the M710 / TRXPTC. Connie Muller (56) has been sailing around the South point of the African continent for nearly 4 years. Up to now his journey has lead him  from  Cape Town around the Cape of Good Hope to  Madagascar, shortly he will continue his journey to the island La Reunion over the Indian Ocean to Thailand.

" On our way we had some wave damage and so we had to return to Richard's Bay. Before we reached Port Elizabeth, we encountered a century storm. But we did not give up, our dream was to close to come true. PACTOR helped us to remain in contact with our friends and family on land."

Captain Connie from SV SILVER CLOUD
Captain Connie,  SY SILVER CLOUD

"When I took over the SILVER CLOUD approximately five years ago, an old Kenwood Transceiver was installed there. However, it was so old and out dated, that the installation of a new transceiver as an investment of our security out at sea was urgent, before our journey was able to proceed. In Knysna I luckily met, Michael of the IRON LADY (www.lunatronic.net) at a typically South African Braai (grill evening) at the Knysna yacht club. I told him of my intention and that I thought that I could benefit from his experience of many years concerning communication electronics. Quickly the advantages of a proven and stable Marine radio were clear to me. All over the world the M710 is installed on fishing boats, where they are exposed to rough environmental conditions at sea. Michael strongly advised me to install the modem for E-mail traffic of Sailmail and Winlink, as well as weather fax and GRIB files and all of this simply build into the radio. Today, I am probably the one and only South African yachtsman, who has an installation like this on his yacht.  The other yachtsmen, to whom I would proudly tell about this installation are astonished."

M710/trxptc
M710/TRXPTC

The PACTOR modem in the radio is technically no problem. The Transceiver does not take up any unnecessary space and with moderate expenditure can be equipped with the TRXPTC of SCS appropriately. The work should be implemented by a professional. Here the main advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages:

  • Very durable Marine Transceiver with water protection upwards
  • Space saving of the external modem
  • Wireless communication of the modem with the personal computer through Bluetooth
  • Less cables and plugs hereby decreasing corrosion of the plugs of the cable connections.

Disadvantages:

  • Should the Transceiver be faulty, the whole device would have to be sent in for repairs
  • The Transceiver loses its guaranty of the manufacturer due to the modifications.

Sea Clouds way
SILVER CLOUDS way so far

"If there is a storm announced from southwest, the yachtsmen disappear faster than the rats into their holes. This is because of the fact that the stormy wind presses against the Agulhas Current and causes short, steep and refractive mammoth waves that can tower up to 20-meters in height. A whole Megatanker once simply disappeared from the ocean surface, in conditions like this."

Nevertheless, Connie Muller sailing in an easterly direction around the Cape, still has to be able to calculate the wind and waves he might encounter.

"You think that you are making headway, wake behind you and when you turn to look on the map one hour later you find that you have been sailing backwards."

The South Africans are not stupid and neither is Captain Connie. They use the so-called counter current to their advantage. Closely under the land strip the current turns in the opposed direction, the yachtsmen can use the current in this district to carefully forge ahead to the east. Captain Connie was forced to sail in 12-20 hourly stages from harbour to harbour, as close as possible to the shore line.

"You must sail closely enough along the shore line so that you can see the couples in love taking long walks on the beach with your bare eyes. If you can just recognize them, you have the correct distance to the coast. If you see how they are kissing, you are too close and a sudden emerging Freak wave can upset your yacht."

Nothing for meek hearted yachtsman and this makes it even more important to have the correct radio and modem equipment installed.

Yoilanda
The true captain? Connies wife in the radio shack

“Three sources of information are particularly important when sailing. Firstly the local weather Channel. On 14.316/7045 Mhz yachtsmen Allister, ZS5MU, provides every morning 6:30 / 11:30 UT a current weather report for every individual yachtsman. A durable, strong radio signal helps a lot to be able to log in even from the last bay, which enables you to get your individual forecast from Allister. With the M710 and 150 watts of power output I am assured to be on the safe side. With my son near to Durban I am also able to stay in contact with him through use of the SSB. However, for the yachtsmen it is far more important to have the reception of GRIB files."

GRIB Request
GRIB Weather Request

"We subscribe for the files GRIB individually for our sailing area in a certain timeframe by E-mail.
These E-mails are send and received by the PACTOR MODEM integrated in the M710."

GRIB Report
GRIF Weatherfile

"Even though I am a radio amateur, we use Winlink and Sailmail in parallel. This way, we canensure the possibility of being reached on one of the two systems. It wouldn't work out without the integrated TRXPTC modem, that surely isn't inferior to his bigger brother, the PTC-IIusb at all.
The difference is, that all you can see from our PACTOR modem is a small plastic cover at the back of the M710 which covers the Bluetooth aerial of the modem. There are no cables. The connection between modem and computer is established by an easy and wireless Bluetooth connection. Once again we discover the advantage of less interference, because the USB connection usually transmits on the same  frequencies, the SSB radio does."

Only a few yachtsmen use the full range of the SCS PACTOR  modem possibilities. Most use the E-mail and weather GRIB files. Captain Connie is a big exception there. He has long waiting periods on the South African coast heading towards Madagascar, but this also allows a lot of time to experiment.

"The Grib files show us high and low-pressure areas, turning winds, strengths, air pressure, rain etc. But they can not show warm and cold fronts, tropical convergences or tropical storms. With MSCAN, the optional software, PACTOR offers an oppurtunity to get even more detailed information about the weather to be expected. With the TRXPTC it is easy to receive weather fax maps. This begins with the obligatory ground pressure map every 6 hours for South Africa as far as  the ice map of the Antarctic. With MSCAN the connected PC via Bluetooth and TRXPTC receives the program programmed by me. In the mornings I can automatically receive the ground pressure map as a FAX, at 11 o'clock the weather reports in RTTY come in and even spoken radio and weather broadcastings can be recorded. Single disadvantage for such a fully automatic system: the whole installation must be switched on and this consumes electricity."

Captain Connie and I chat a bit more about old stories and I can finally arouse his curiosity for the subject of Position Report. I send him the position report link of my last voyage crossing the Atlantic. Immediately he peppers me with questions about the necessary settings in Airmail. I am excited to follow as Connie goes off in direction of Thailand and to see how his experiences will be there.

Michael Wnuk, DL1JD, Cape Town June/2009

 

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