The SailMail Association is a non-profit association of yacht owners that operates and maintains an email communications system for use by its members. SailMail email can be transferred via SailMail's own world-wide network of SSB-Pactor radio stations, or via satellite (Iridium, Inmarsat, VSAT, Globalstar, Thuraya) or any other method of internet access (cellular networks, WiFi). The SailMail system implements an efficient email transfer protocol that is optimized for use over communications systems that have limited bandwidth and high latency. Satellite communications systems and SSB-Pactor terrestrial radio communications systems both have these characteristics. The SailMail email system's custom protocol substantially reduces the number of link-turn-arounds and implements compression, virus filtering, spam filtering, and attachment filtering. The combination of the protocol, compression, and filtering dramatically improves communications efficiency.
The SailMail Association also maintains its own world-wide network of SSB-Pactor private coast stations in the Maritime Mobile Radio Service. Email that is sent to a SailMail member's email address can be seamlessly retrieved via SSB radio from any SailMail station, or can be retrieved via satellite, or via any other access to the internet.
Many budget-conscious SailMail members primarily use SailMail's network of SSB private coast stations to enjoy the most cost-effective email communications worldwide. Other than the membership fee to join the SailMail Association and the initial hardware cost of a SSB and Pactor modem, there is no cost per message for use of the SailMail radio network.
Other SailMail members use the SailMail's world-wide network of SSB-Pactor radio stations, but also carry Iridium, Inmarsat, or other satellite communications in addition as a backup and for urgent communications in times of difficult HF propagation.
Finally, some SailMail members primarily access the SailMail email system via their satellite system, taking advantage of SailMail's efficient communications protocol, compression, and filtering to minimize their satellite time and cost. Some of these members also carry a Pactor modem for use with their SSB as a backup communications system to their satellite system.
The SailMail Association's network of HF private coast stations provide worldwide coverage. Every SailMail station provides service in Pactor, Pactor-II, Pactor-III, and Pactor 4. SailMail's stations and their frequencies are as follows:
|Location||Callsign||Frequencies in kHz|
|WQLI952||5881.4, 7971.4, 10343, 13971, 13986, 18624, 22917.4|
|WQAB964||2759, 5740, 7380, 10206, 13874, 18390, 23060|
|WHV382||2794.4, 5830, 7995, 10315, 13940, 18277|
|KUZ533||2701.4, 5836, 7957.4, 10325, 13930, 18264|
South Carolina, USA
|KZN508||2656.4, 5876.4, 7961.4, 7981.4, 10331, 13998, 18618, 18630|
Nova Scotia, Canada
|XJN714||4805, 7822, 10523, 13937, 14436.2, 18234, 21866|
|VZX||2824, 4162, 5085.8, 6357, 8442, 8684.5, 10476.2, 12680, 13513.8, 14436.2, 16908, 18594, 22649|
|Maputo, Mozambique, Africa||RC01||5212, 7957.4, 10335, 10522, 12689*, 12694, 13930, 13992*, 14588*, 18264, 18630*, 22212* (*these frequencies use a directional antenna pointed NE into the Indian Ocean)|
|V8V2222||5212, 6305, 7962, 8399, 10323, 11174, 13426, 14987, 16786, 18893, 20373, 22352|
|OSY||6330.5, 8422, 12580.5, 16684.5|
|WPTG385||2720.8, 5859.4, 7941.4, 10361.4, 13906.4, 13926.4, 18376.4, 22881.4|
|WPUC469||2807.8, 5897.4, 8009.4, 10366.4, 13921.4, 18381.4, 22961.4|
|HPPM1||4075, 5735, 8185, 10450, 13880, 18240, 18440, 23050|
|HPPM2||2650, 5870, 10329, 13980, 18610, 22643|
|CEV773||2828.5, 5266.5, 10620, 10623, 13861.5, 13875|
|9Z4DH||2212, 5005, 7405, 10150, 13548, 17103, 18172, 20528|
|FOHXM||1919, 4206.5, 6222.4, 8289.4, 12576, 16785.5|
|Niue||ZKN2SM||4168, 6241.5, 8308.5, 12373.5, 16563.5, 18856.5|
(if members want to receive an email that will automatically update the information on SailMail stations and frequencies that is kept in their AirMail software, send an email to email@example.com)
For registration and other information, scroll down this webpage or click here.
Stan Honey WA6IVA organized the SailMail Association, obtained the necessary FCC licenses, begged, borrowed, and bought the necessary equipment, wrote the internet gateway/multiple-station synchronization software, and assembled and installed the initial SailMail radio stations. Jim Corenman KE6RK wrote the AirMail program that serves as the email client running on PC's aboard member vessels and also is used at the SailMail stations. Jim and Sue Corenman installed the stations in Rockhill, Honolulu, Texas, Florida, and Chile. Steve Chamberlin was the first member and user of the SailMail system and helped finance the founding of the association. Shea Weston of Offshore Outfitters, one of SailMail's most experienced dealers, provides SailMail's tech support phone and email service (see the Contact-Us page on this site), and maintains SailMail's US stations. Sally Lindsay Honey, Jo Boynton, and Sue Corenman manage membership registration and help run the network. The current directors of the SailMail Association are Stan Honey, Jim Corenman, Sally Lindsay Honey, Steve Chamberlin, Sue Corenman, and Shea Weston.
All users of the SailMail service must join the SailMail Association in order send and receive email via the SailMail system and to access the stations. The SailMail Association pro-rates the expenses for the email system and station operation among the members of the Association. The membership assessment is $250 per vessel, per year. This assessment is subject to change in the future as the number of members, the cost of station operation, and the cost of setting up additional stations vary. Any membership assessments received by the Association in excess of the funds required will be refunded to the members, pro-rata to each member's paid-in fee's.
The SailMail Stations could not be operating now without support from Chuck Hawley and the Watsonville, Rockhill, Honolulu, Corpus Christi, South Daytona, and San Diego staffs of West Marine, Shea Weston of Offshore Outfitters, Mark Robinson of Pactor Communications Australia, Richard Spindler of Latitude 38, Don Melcher of HF Radio On Board, ICOM, Eric Steinberg of Farallon Electronics, and Martin (DL1ZAM) of SCS Inc. Please take lots of business to these companies in thanks for their support of SailMail.
Many thanks to the operators of overseas stations that handle SailMail traffic: Derek and Jeanine Barnard of Penta Comstat in NSW Australia, Justice Malanot of Bushmail in South Africa, William Latter of LMR Communications in Lunenburg Nova Scotia, Allan Riches of Brunei Bay Radio in Brunei Darussalam, Philip Cazaerck in Belgium, Craig Owings commodore of the (late) Pedro Miguel Boat Club in Panama, Ian and Maggy Staples in Los Lagos Chile, Aaron Hutchinson in Trinidad, Xavier Michel in the Tuamotus, and Garry Clarke, the NZ Met Service, and the Niue Met Service in support of the station in Niue. We would also like to thank Mark Robinson who has been instrumental in setting up many of SailMail's international stations.
In addition, a number of others contributed to the effort: Jim Jennings W5EUT, Hans Kessler N8PGR, and Steve Waterman K4CJX were supportive and their work on Netlink, Winlink, and the Ham networks paved the way for the SailMail Association system.
SailMail's email system implements a communications protocol that is optimized for low-bandwidth and high-latency communications systems. Satellite and SSB-Pactor communications both have these characteristics. The SailMail protocol minimizes the number of link-turn-arounds, provides virus/spam/attachment filtering, and compresses the data. The result of this processing is a dramatic increase in the efficiency of email communications over satellite. The SailMail protocol can transfer about 10 times the email messages in the same satellite time as can a conventional pop3/smtp communications protocol.
The use of the SailMail email system over satellite is seamless with email communications using SailMail's worldwide network of SSB-Pactor radio stations. This means that you can pick up or send messages to or from your SailMail email address via any of SailMail's worldwide SSB-Pactor stations or via any satellite communications system or via any other system providing internet access. You do not need to check multiple email addresses.
Depending on propagation, the quality of your radio (especially grounding system) installation, the type of equipment used, and the distance from the station, members are able to send and receive internet email at a rate varying from 10 to 500 characters per second using Pactor-III. These rates approximately compare to sending and receiving text on a PC using a modem of between 110 and 4800 baud (remember those days?).
Clearly this does not allow "browsing the Internet." The objective of the SailMail station is not to provide "Internet Access" in any general sense but instead to allow sailors to send and receive Internet email from the high seas. These transfer rates, while stunningly slow by modern standards, are sufficient for sending and receiving email messages. For example an email message that could fit on one half of a type-written page would comprise about 1000 characters, and would take 2 to 90 seconds to transfer.
A half-page email is plenty long enough to send an update to family and friends, to order parts, to arrange travel, or to handle other logistical issues. A half-page email is a typical example, but the station will allow email messages that are up to 35kBytes in length for members using Pactor-III. For reference, 35kBytes is about 17 type-written pages. There is no additional cost beyond the membership fee; i.e. there are no per-message fees. Members are required, however, to limit their use of the SailMail stations to a running average of 90 minutes per week, calculated over the previous week. Members can send email to any Internet email address, and can receive email from anyone, addressed to: CALLSIGN@sailmail.com (where CALLSIGN is your boat's marine callsign which should look something like WXY1234)
For example a typical email address for a SailMail member vessel could be: WXY1234@sailmail.com
The SailMail Association has frequency allocations from 2 to 23 MHz at the stations. These frequencies provide communications at distances up to about 5000 miles from each station. SailMail has worldwide coverage and a number of members of the SailMail Association have circumnavigated and have used SailMail throughout their circumnavigation.
All users of the SailMail service must join the SailMail Association in order to use the system. The SailMail Association pro-rates the expenses for email system and station operation among the members of the Association. The membership assessment is $250 per vessel, per year. This assessment is subject to change in the future as the number of members, the cost of station operation, and the cost of setting up additional stations vary. Any membership assessments received by the Association in excess of the funds required will be refunded to the members, pro-rata to each member's paid-in fee's.
There is no per-message fee or connect-time fee for the use of SailMail's radio stations, although members must limit their usage of the SailMail radio stations to 90 minutes per week.
There is no per-message fee and no limit on the number of messages sent through the SailMail email system and picked up via satellite or other internet access, although the member will have to pay separately for their satellite time and/or for their internet access.
Membership assessments pay for membership for one year from the date that the assessment is received.
Memberships are only available for one year periods, and are not refundable for any reason, including changes in a members cruising plans, or difficulties in using SailMail.
Yes, there are lots of options.
You can use the SailMail system itself to receive text or grib weather forecasts at no charge. The easiest way (free) is to use SailDocs.com For information send an empty email to firstname.lastname@example.org It is also possible to request no charge text forecasts directly from the US National Weather Service. For information, send an email to email@example.com and in the first and only line of the message put "help".
Several commercial services format and email text, suggested routes, and grib weather forecasts for a fee. PredictWind, BuoyWeather, Ocens, MaxSea, MovingWeather, Météo-France, and many others are in that business.
You can use SailMail to communicate with a meteorologist or commercial weather service (e.g. Commanders Weather), who can advise you on reasonable departure dates and routes, and can send you periodic routing advice during your passage. We highly recommend this, particularly for new cruisers who have not yet become confident in their ability to interpret weather data. See the FAQ section of the SailMail Primer for a list of meteorologists and commercial weather services who are expert at advising cruisers.
Finally, there are fax weathermaps and SITOR text weather forecasts that are broadcast by the US Coast Guard and by other HF stations around the world. Your SCS PTC-II modem can be used in conjunction with your laptop to receive these broadcasts. See the FAQ section of the SailMail Primer, and the Downloads page of this website for more details.
See the Contact Us page on this website.
You need to acquire an SCS Pactor-modem, which is basically a special modem available from ham radio or marine electronics dealers that is designed to transfer data over radio. The SailMail system works best with the SCS PTC-IIIusb or a P4dragon modem. The SailMail system will also work with older design SCS Pactor modems, such as the II, IIe, IIex, IIpro, IIusb, but if you own or buy an older SCS modem, make sure that it is upgraded to use the Pactor-III mode, and that you can install your modem in such a way that it can control the frequency on your SSB.
Members should limit their use of the SailMail stations to 90 minutes per week. So if you intend to send or receive more than one or two short emails per day you will need to use Pactor-III. SCS modems that have been licensed to use Pactor-III transfer data 3-5 times faster than Pactor-II. Finally, the SCS modems make terrific DSP-based weatherfax demodulators, using software that is available off of the internet (see the downloads page on the SailMail Website).
Once you buy your Pactor-modem, there is still much to do: you will need hook up the Pactor-modem with your radio and laptop, download the AirMail software, set it up, and learn how to operate the system. This can be tricky unless you get help.
You have two choices:
Unless you either like sorting out details of interfacing laptops and radios, or you are bored to tears and looking for a challenge, we suggest that you contact your marine/ham radio dealer. It may turn out that you will need changes made in the configuration of your marine SSB in any event. If this is the case, then you will need the help of a licensed marine radio technician to make these changes. If you (sensibly) decide to get the help of a dealer, you may find it helpful to refer to the SailMail Installation Checklist, when you contract with your dealer, to make sure that no steps are overlooked.
There are many radio dealers who can sell and install a Pactor-modem for you. They will obviously charge you for their services to do the installation, but they are earning their money; the installation requires skill. Some of these dealers are:
|Richmond BC, Vancouver Marine Equipment +1 800-863-8646 Brian Stilling <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Ladysmith BC, White Squall Consulting Inc +1 250-924-6642 Martin Dunsmuir <email@example.com>|
|Victoria BC, Victoria Marine Electric Ltd +1 250-383-9731 Brian Stilling <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Markham ON, Stand Sure Marine +1 416 409 4089 David Anderson <email@example.com>|
|Whitby ON, Durham Radio +1 905-665-5466 Keith Carcasole <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Lunenburg NS, Oceanside Communication Systems +1 902-634-4430 William Latter <email@example.com>|
|San Diego CA, Offshore Outfitters, +1 619 225 5690, Shea Weston firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Sausalito CA, Farallon Electronics +1 415 331 1924 Eric Steinberg <email@example.com>|
|San Diego CA, Downwind Marine +1 619 224 2733 Chris or Linda <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Santa Cruz CA, Maritime Electronics +1 800-582-1333 Terence M. Boland <MESCUSA@att.net>|
|Sausalito CA, Maritime Electronics +1 415 332 5086 Brian Backer <email@example.com>|
|Punta Gorda FL, DockSide Radio +1 941 661 4498 Gary Jensen|
|Ft. Pierce Fl, Lamplighter Marine +1 772 595 5910 Dave LaLonde <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Ft Lauderdale FL, Concord Electronics +1 954 779 1100 Michael Robilio <email@example.com>|
|Jacksonville FL, Miller Marine +1 904 388 3690 Al Meunier <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Portland OR, Rodgers Marine Electronics +1 503 287 1101 Marty Kirk <email@example.com>|
|Portsmouth RI, Custom Navigation +1 401 683 6005 Steve Gill <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Galveston TX, SeaTech Systems +1 800 444 2581 Steven Bowden <email@example.com>|
|Washington DC, Cruising Services & Supplies +1 202 342-0191 Dick Juppenlatz <CruisingServices@aol.com>|
|Salford PA, TechYacht +1 610 287 0703 Tim Hasson <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Mamaroneck NY, Innovative Marine Services +1 914 698 4959 David Fontaine <email@example.com>|
|Mamaroneck NY, RadCom Technologies +1 914 698 6800 Murray Cohen <RadComMarine@AOL.COM>|
|Thomaston ME, Midcoast Marine Electronics +1 207 354 0012 Kevin Boughton <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Mukilteo WA ,Windward Communications +1 425 353 6520 Chip Adams email@example.com|
|Anacortes WA, Anacortes Marine Electronics +1 360 293 6100 Bryan Hennessy <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Seattle WA, Offshore Store, +1 206 632 3025 Brian Rickard email@example.com|
|San Francisco, CA, Cal Marine Electronics, +1 415 391 7550, Fred King, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Anacortes WA, TMMarineElectronics.com, +1 360-333-9973, Tom MacNeil, email@example.com|
|Annapolis, MD, AuspiciousWorks +1 443 327 9084, Dave Skolnick, firstname.lastname@example.org |
|St John British Virgin Islands, Cay Electronics Ltd Rob Wassell +1 284 494 2400,<email@example.com>|
|Chaguaramas,Trinidad ELECTROPICS Marine Services Ltd., Andreas Kretzschmar +1 868 634 2232 firstname.lastname@example.org |
|Bursledon Hampshire UK, SailCom Marine +44 1489 565100 Bob Smith <email@example.com>|
|Enkhuizen The Netherlands, Shiptron +31 228 317437 Jugo Baya <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Bergum The Netherlands, Dolstra Elektronika +31 511 465789 Albert Dolstra <email@example.com>|
|Uffelte The Netherlands, Quadrad +31 521 351588 Peter van der Wal <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Uitgeest The Netherlands, RYS Electronics +31 251 311934 Gerard Rijs <email@example.com>|
|Hamburg & Aachen Germany, MOECOM +49 162 217 16 99 Thomas Möllers <Thomas@moecom.de>|
|Düsseldorf Germany, Lunatronic, +49 211 99545974 Michael Wnuk, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Hamburg Germany, ESD GmbH - UB Funk & Datensysteme, +49 40 53897-114 Thorsten Wilke, email@example.com|
|Guetersloh, Germany, www.yachtfunk.com, +49 5241 9985535 Joerg Drexhagen firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Mauguio France, SUD Communication +33 (0)467509852 Jean-Marc Montariol <email@example.com>|
|Beinwil am See Switzerland, Ingenieurbüro für Telekommunikation +41 62 771 23 55 Robert Grisch <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Weston super Mare England, Mactra Marine, +44 1934 517288 email@example.com|
|Gallipoli Italy, Elettronica Navale, Enrico De Rosa, +39 0833 202251 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Lignano Italy, Nautigamma Trade srl +39 0431 720500 Antonio Pezzoni email@example.com|
|Capannoli Pisa, Arno Electtronica, +39 0587 607390, Marco Menozzi, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Barendrecht (near Rotterdam) The Netherlands, Advitek Marine Systems +31 10 7370047 Richard Selier email@example.com|
|Slovenia UScom l.t.d. +386 1200 6040 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Serbia, Aluxom l.t.d. +381 11 3477 981 email@example.com|
|Dar es Salaam Tanzania, Plustronics Communications Ltd, Robin Moseley <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Cape Town South Africa, C-dynamics +27 21 555-3232 Bruce Robinson <email@example.com>|
|Cape Town South Africa, Duxbury Networking +27 21 423 7115 Robert Ravensberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Cape Town South Africa, Radio Holland South Africa +27 (0)21 511 0864 Martin Hulme <email@example.com>|
|Durban South Africa, Radio Holland South Africa +27 (0)31 2055309 Martin Taylor <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Darwin NT Australia, Navcom +61 8 8981 1311 Bob Stroud <Bob.Stroud@navcom.com.au>|
|Bundaberg QLD Australia, Rampant Marine Elect. +61 7 4159 5344 Dave Dee <email@example.com>|
|Mackay QLD Australia, MME Electronics +61 7 4955 5101 Patrick Mee <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Townsville QLD Australia, Seabourne Electronics +61 747 714210 Paul Weldon <email@example.com>|
|Melbourne VIC Australia, Nautek Marine Services +61 4 1039 8400 MichaelFizallen <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Melbourne VIC Australia, Offshore Marine Electronics +61 3 9597 0528 Colin Miller <email@example.com>|
|Adelaide SA Australia, Intl. Comms. Systems +61 8 8447 3688 John Moffat <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Cairns Queensland Australia, Endless Technology, +617 40410990 +61407125459, Xenek Stoehr, email@example.com|
|Waihi Beach New Zealand, Jacques Calvo +64 7 863 5225, firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Auckland New Zealand, Sailboat Accessories +64 9 412 6949 Leslie Egnot <email@example.com>|
|Auckland New Zealand, Seatrak Electronics +64 09 373 2400 Chris Bowler firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Whangarei New Zealand, Steelcom Electronics +64 9 438 4644 Murray MacFadyen <email@example.com>|
|Whangarei New Zealand, Waypoint Electronics +64 0274 965 299 Wayne Limbrick <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|French Polynesia, LSAC +689 20 45 87 Luc Callebaut email@example.com|
|Queensland Austrailia, Radios.net.au +61 7 4125 7700 Paul Richards firstname.lastname@example.org |
|Brunei Darussalam, Borneo, Brunei Bay Radio +673 8 723702 Allan Riches, email@example.com|
If other dealers are interested in being listed here, please email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Again, if you do use a dealer and arrange for a professional installation, be sure to refer to the Installation Checklist that is posted on this website. Discuss with your dealer in advance the cost and which steps on the checklist he or she intends to complete. Be sure to watch the installation and checkout to gain familiarity with the system and installation.
SailMail is not a Ham Radio system. You do not need a Ham license. All you need is to have a properly licensed marine SSB and join the SailMail Association (see the Terms and Conditions for eligibility).
The Pactor-modem that you purchase, however, can be used on digital networks run by Ham Radio operators. Thus if you are a Ham, or if you become one, you can use your Pactor-modem on the Ham networks as well. Many SailMail members have developed an interest in radio from their use of SailMail and have subsequently become licensed Hams and use the Ham WinLink system as well as SailMail. Conversely, many Hams who use the Ham WinLink system have joined SailMail in order to use SailMail for business-related communications that cannot be handled via Ham radio.
SailMail members use the AirMail software to access the SailMail network, which is the same software that is used by many Hams to access the WinLink network. Therefore cruisers who use both SailMail and WinLink can conveniently keep all of their messages in the same set of folders on their onboard PC, and only have to deal with one software program.
The Ham networks offer greater geographic coverage and contain more stations than SailMail or any other HF network. Further, the ham networks do not have any limits on connect-time, and permit users to send and receive file attachments like images and binary executables. By comparison, SailMail has usage limits of 90 minutes per week and only passes certain attachments (e.g. weather data). Note, however, that while it is appropriate to send business-related messages over the SailMail system, business messages are not permitted on the Ham networks.
In part. Use SailMail for the email processing, filtering, and compression, but also get either an Iridium, Inmarsat, or KVH/VSAT system because there are some times of day where propagation is not suitable to allow SSB communications, depending on your distance from the nearest stations.
Iridium offers voice and 2400 baud data service worldwide for about $2.00 per minute. This yields about $60 per Megabyte assuming that the data is already compressed.
The KVH FB150 Inmarsat system has worldwide coverage and costs about $13 per Megabyte. The KVH V3 VSAT system has a somewhat larger dome but the data costs are only $1 per Megabyte.
Globalstar, in spite of their name, only offers terrestrial and coastal coverage (i.e. on land or within 200 miles of land). Globalstar offers voice and 9600 baud data access for about $1.00 per minute.
Whichever satellite system you use, consider joining the SailMail Association and using the SailMail system and AirMail software to send and receive your email via satellite. The efficient protocol, compression, and virus/spam/attachment filtering of the SailMail system will dramatically reduce your satellite costs. If you additionally install a SCS Pactor modem for use with your SSB you can also send and receive email via SailMail's network of SSB-Pactor stations at zero cost per message as a backup to satellite or to reduce your communications cost.
http://babelfish.altavista.com/ or http://translate.google.com/ are websites that can translate anything. They are not perfect for technical instructions, however, so for tricky technical bits it would be best to find somebody who can read English.