Using the Iridium GO satphone


To the editor: A few years ago we purchased an Iridium GO satphone unit. We’ve had excellent results getting email, using voice and downloading weather (both gribs and updating our weather routing).

Since there is so much information about the Iridium GO, here was our approach for researching and buying:

First we read voyager Behan Gifford’s post on the Iridium GO, “Iridium GO with PredictWind for weather and more,” which can be found at her blog, Sailing Totem. We also met and spoke to Behan at the Annapolis Boat Show before buying. Her post is really great and answered many of our questions, such as where to buy, best service plan options and how to use the GO.

We then subscribed to PredictWind so that we could get its weather forecasts. If you watch some of the YouTube sailing shows, Sailing SV Delos has a cool video of using PredictWind.

We bought PredictWind’s ~$129/month Iridium GO sat package. This was a good choice for us because it came with unlimited data and you can move down in the packages on a month-to-month basis in case you’re not using the GO or cruising actively — which is great for when we’re sitting out the winter in the U.K.

We then downloaded the GO apps from Apple’s App Store (there are Android apps too) as well as the PredictWind app so that we have the Web features on our tablet.

From a practical perspective, here is our pre-departure method for using the GO and PredictWind for weather routing, email and voice:

1. Before we leave, we use the departure planning feature to compare four days of weather. We use the Internet connection of PredictWind to do this.

2. When we’re offshore, we use the GO to get daily weather via PredictWind and to update our automatic weather routing. We also get email and make calls if necessary.

3. Email is simple to use. You flip up the antenna, make sure the Wi-Fi on your device is set for Iridium, make sure you are logged into the Iridium GO app, open the Iridium mail app and click the cloud on the very bottom left that says “Send/Receive.”

4. I would suggest typing emails before you turn the GO on, as it will save battery. Once you type them, they’ll go in your outbox and then you can flip it on and send when you’re ready.

5. You will be assigned an Iridium email address that’s different than your current offshore email, so you’ll need to give that email to anyone who wants to contact you offshore.

We have never had the GO not connect or have it lose a connection. We have the rail-mount antenna and have it situated near our SSB antenna. The GO is charged by a separate battery so you don’t need the antenna, but we thought it would be nice and allow a semi-permanent mount of the GO.

—Baxter and Molly Gillespie live aboard their 1982 Valiant 47, Terrapin, and are currently in Plymouth, U.K.

By Ocean Navigator