Andy Pag puts Predictwind’s IridiumGO! through its paces on an Atlantic crossing to test how good the satellite modem really is
Predictwind’s IridiumGO! is aimed at meeting the need for basic emergency, weather forecasting, telephone and email connectivity offshore.
The headline cost seems reasonable at just £522 ($699), but add to that the VAT, spare sim cards at £7.50 each ($10), the cheapest Predictwind subscription, which works via satellite is £74/quarter (£$99), and airtime at £105/month ($140).
The unit charges from 12v, 110v, 220v or 240v sockets.
The test of Predictwind Iridium GO!
Set-up took about two hours on a good Wifi connection to activate the SIM and register accounts with GEOS International, an emergency service, and Iridium Mail, the email service.
I also changed the unit’s default Wifi password to stop the whole anchorage from logging on.
There’s a marine antenna kit which retails for an extra £224 ($300), but the internal antenna worked well enough from inside the boat on clear days.
Calls worked through the associated app with the expected slight delay of a sat call. 150 minutes are included with the airtime agreement.
SMS messages were free to send, but most people either couldn’t reply at all or got clobbered for a few quid with each text they sent.
Verdict on the Predictwind Iridium GO!
The email app is cumbersome and glitchy, deserving of its 2-star Google Play rating, but it can be made to work when you have the time of an ocean passage to fill.
Predictwind’s proprietary weather models, PWG and PWE, were wide of the mark on the crossing.
Downloading the forecast for the remaining four models over the whole route took a couple of hours, and beyond 5-7 days the modelling is based on seasonal weather predictions rather than real-time conditions.
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I downloaded GFS and ECMWF models for wind, gusts, waves, and CAPE, once a day for route planning.
I don’t regret having spent the best part of £1,000 on the service because I’m hoping much of it will be recouped when we come to sell the unit.
My biggest regret is that I caught myself checking emails a little too compulsively throughout the passage.
Predictwind’s Iridium GO!, £522
Also on the market
This is a stylish handheld satellite communicator that shares your tracking data and allows you to send and receive SMS messages at sea.
The included weather feature isn’t suitable for passage planning, but you could arrange for a friend on land to send you more useful forecasts.
InReach Mini: £300.
Monthly subscription: £15-65
This satellite messaging tracker rivals the inReach for features and cost, fits in your pocket and works worldwide. It pairs with a phone making it intuitive to use. A weather service is planned for the future. It’s available in the UK both on the Zoleo website and through Amazon.
Elon Musk’ ls low earth orbit satellite internet network delivers broadband speed internet. The coverage areas are constantly increasing as more satellites are being added to the constellation. The dish can be mounted on even a small boat. But recent announcements imply the price for offshore use will be $5,000 per month.
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