Staying in Reach: DeLorme SE Satellite Messenger

“Two way” doesn’t just refer to the fact that a DeLorme inReach handheld satellite messenger/tracker lets you text back and forth with people pretty much like a cellphone. I also tested the system shoreside by loaning a sample inReachSE model to friends Doug and Dale Bruce when they went on a cruise to some remote islands south of New Zealand.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Testing DeLorme’s SE satellite messenger, along with the new Explorer model and OCENS SpotCast Weather

“Two way” doesn’t just refer to the fact that a DeLorme inReach handheld satellite messenger/tracker lets you text back and forth with people pretty much like a cellphone. I also tested the system shoreside by loaning a sample inReachSE model to friends Doug and Dale Bruce when they went on a cruise to some remote islands south of New Zealand. Yes, Doug had a little trouble with SE’s little cursor keyboard, but heck, he was in rough seas on the other side of the planet! I was pleased with how well I could follow the Bruces’ trip on the DeLorme MapShare site associated with the device. It took a while for Doug to find a place near his stateroom window where the inReach could see both the GPS and Iridium satellites it uses, but from then on fixes with speed and altitude were posted almost every 10 minutes. As a result, I was already researching the amazing geology and wildlife populations of Macquarie Island as their ship approached the place, and I “watched” as my friends went ashore at the science station and spent a night reaching back and forth in the island’s lee. It wasn’t like actually seeing and hearing half a million penguins on a cobble beach, but it definitely brought some excitement to a cold Maine winter.

I’ve been testing the inReach system since late 2011, when the first model came out, and I became even more of a fan as the software improved and the company added an iPad version of the Earthmate app. The release of inReachSE (Screen Edition) about a year ago got me pretty excited, and I’m still enthusiastic after using it a lot myself. When the inReachSE is running, my iPad mini automatically connects to it and Earthmate tracks me on freely downloadable NOAA charts and worldwide topo maps while also handling messages. Nav apps can also use the inReach GPS, and the SE is much easier to leave on for tracking purposes because of its 100-hour lithium battery and easy USB charging. I don’t use the color screen and keypad much on the boat, but it certainly extends the device’s stand-alone abilities, though it is not a stand-alone navigation tool.

The brand new inReach Explorer, on the other hand, is a stand-alone navigation tool. In addition to doing all the satellite messaging of the earlier inReaches, it has a Bluetooth app connection and a digital compass, altimeter and accelerometer sensors for better handheld navigation. I suspect it probably also has more processing power.

I’m not sure the Explorer is great for marine navigation—the Map icon, for instance, only gets you to a sketch of your track and waypoints—but it would definitely be useful on shore hikes, thanks in part to its track-back function. I’m also intrigued by the description of how a user will be able to create routes on their DeLorme Explore “portal” (website), which will presumably sync to their Explorer handheld.

The inReachSE and Explorer models also now have a worldwide weather option, thanks to OCENS SpotCast (which also works with Iridium Xtreme and Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro texting). Of course, forecasts have to be quite succinct to fit the inReach’s 160-character maximum, but it looks like OCENS has designed the service cleverly. Each message covers 24 hours in four six-hour forecasts, and if you’ve purchased the 72-hour option—unlimited forecasts for $8 a month or $80 a year—you can ask for one, two or three days at once. The latter detail is nice because the messages will come out of your service plan, although DeLorme started offering a very flexible Freedom Plan earlier this year.

Editors note: For more of Ben’s insights into marine electronics, go to panbo.com

Related

FB-BHM-1024

SAIL Black History Month Series: James Forten

James Forten was born on September 2, 1766 in Philadelphia to free Black parents Thomas and Margaret Forten. Forten attended a Quaker school as a young child, then went to work with his father who was a sailmaker. His father died when he was still young, and Forten worked ...read more

sailme-app_ SAIL

5 Ways Sail.me Helps You Monetize Your Boat

Ready to earn some extra funds by renting out your boat or yacht? Sail.me is an interactive service that allows you to monetize your boat in a secure, safe, and easy way. A user-friendly app and website will help you manage reservations, add-ons, and set customized routes to ...read more

VendeePromo

2020-21 Vendée Timeline

As a spectator event, France’s Vendée Globe never disappoints, and the 2020-21 edition of the quadrennial round-the-world race was no exception. From equipment failures to climactic rescues, heartbreaking abandonments and a breathtakingly close finish, this edition, which ...read more

valleytrunk3

BVI Chartering in the Pandemic

The week before I flew out to the British Virgin Islands for a bareboat charter, I was having a few second thoughts. The islands had broken out of their Covid-enforced tourism hiatus in December, but the conditions of entry seemed a little stringent: a negative Covid test within ...read more

01-LEAD-windfarm

Sailing Amid Offshore Wind Farms

Here in Europe, the general feeling about green energy from offshore wind turbines has moved on after an initial surge of general skepticism. Concerns raised over cost, threats to seabirds, wind interference and the rest have to some extent been answered, and it’s hard to argue ...read more

LunaRossaPrada

VIDEO: Luna Rossa Wins the Prada Cup

The show has gone on despite last week's Covid panic in Auckland, and the "underdog" Italians are victorious. After being bested by INEOS Team UK in the round robin section, they seemed to have an uphill battle ahead of them going into the finals. However, the Italians have been ...read more

FB-BHM-Cuffe-2048x

SAIL Black History Month Series: Paul Cuffe

Paul Cuffe was born on Cuttyhunk Island, Massachusetts, in 1759. His mother was a Native American woman named Ruth Moses, and his father was Kofi Slocum, a formerly enslaved man from the Ashanti Empire, located in modern-day Ghana. They had 10 children including Paul. His ...read more

Ryan-Finn

Point of SAIL: Ryan Finn on Solo-sailing a Proa Round Cape Horn

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with solo-sailor Ryan Finn, a veteran bluewater passagemaker looking to re-create the famed New York-to-San Francisco clipper aboard the 36ft proa, Jzerro. Although Finn was forced to abandon his first attempt ...read more