I sat the Long Range Radio Certificate exam in the Hamble a week ago, following about 20 hours of online study and a 2 day preparatory course. I passed! It was quite interesting in the end, and I now know much more about how to use my SSB radio for long distance voice and data communications over MF and HF. I also sat the Inmarsat C module in order to be able to use the terminal on board Spellbinder, which I have now got to work. I expect to use the SSB for voice, listening to cruisers’ nets as well as the BBC World Service and Radio 4 / 5, but also to send text emails regularly and download weather forecasts, including GRIB (compressed data weather forecast) files. The Inmarsat (‘Sat C’) will provide further weather forecasts and emails (albeit expensively) as a backup. Finally, I have an Iridium fixed satellite phone for voice and emails to give further redundancy.
The course was run by the excellent Bob Smith of YachtCom / SailCom based in Burseldon. Bob is a real expert in this field and is a wealth of useful knowledge. He told me that only a couple of hundred of these certificates are issued in the UK each year, despite it being a legal requirement. There were two fellow students – one from the Isle of Man and one from the Netherlands. The course attracts quite a lot of foreign students. Below is a photo of Bob in the classroom:
The morning after the exam Bob came round to Spellbinder to check the installation of the SSB. It is quite complex – radio, transceiver, antenna up the backstay, antenna tuner, ground system, modem – but all is broadly in order and working as it should, although we need to make a couple of minor adjustments.
With that behind me, I was able to spend this weekend based out of Cowes undertaking some excellent sailing in fine conditions in the Solent, in the company of Wykehamists current and former, enjoying the Royal Yacht Squadron and its excellent hospitality, food and drink. The photos tell the tale. Spellbinder was dressed overall again – this time for the royal wedding. A big thank you to David Anderson who organised it, for the tenth time in succession.
The jobs list gets ever smaller: fix a leak in the calorifier (water heater); a sail repair; more gas bottles; minor adjustments to the SSB set up; Astro-Navigation pack; final lift out to wash down and change anodes. We are getting there…