Sea Smart 2, the roll out and AVL

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

6 Responses

  1. Ralph says:

    I would not subscribe to this service, because it doesn’t provide anything I need. Cell phone service is perfectly satisfactory for the few calls I need to make from the boat. I can use my VHF to call the Coast Guard, or a towing service if I need it, and I would not do a blind call for recommendations for fuel or restaurants. What I would really like would be internet service via the cell phone at a reasonable cost, so that I could see the weather maps (I know that XM now sells this, but it is a niche – full wireless internet is much more useful). It is here, but the cost is still too high, and the learning curve too steep, but I think in a few years it will be commonplace.
    Inserting people into the communications process will be the downfall of this service. People are expensive, and there are not enough customers willing to pay to support them. Remember, Bill Gates is not a zillionaire because he figured out a way to do people’s computing for them – he figured out how to provide the cheap tools that allow them to do their computing themselves, without the intervention of layers of hand-holders/”experts”.

  2. There are some areas in the Puget Sound/Juan de Fuca/San Juans that have poor cell coverage (for now). The almost-guaranteed ability to call out from almost anywhere is surely worth something but the lack of shore-to-ship calls is somewhat of a stumbling block.
    I don’t know many folks older than 13 who don’t have a cell phone. With more towers going up daily and service, cost, and feature improvements being made all the time, it’s hard to see this a a viable, long-term, business plan.

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    John, What we’ve often experienced over here on this coast is decreasing cell coverage over the water as the towers fill in and their focus is narrowed.
    By the way, thank you kindly for your guitar CDs. Nice stuff; has graduated from home office to living room. Readers, check it out at:

  4. Thanks for the plug Ben!
    The decreasing cell coverage is a scenario I’m not aware of. I suspect it’s likely to happen, if not already happening, here too. It does seem like coverage is getting better every year though. Maybe the phone technology is getting better?
    Packetized data over the cell networks such as instant messaging and email (data services) seems to work in areas that have very poor reception. I assume it’s because that type of transmission has the facility to retry hunks of data that get dropped. This is probably the real future of communication to distant and fringe coverage areas.
    Any idea why SeaSmart can’t or won’t do shore-to-ship? I would consider signing up if that was available.

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I think Sea Smart has the technology to do shore-to-ship, even automated—figuring out which VHF area you’re in by pinging your MMSI in a search pattern and then ringing your radio. That and some other neat features are possible, I believe, but they’ve decided to begin with two desirable functions for a flat rate. Probably smart.

  6. Ken Jones says:

    Mariner Networks LLC has just launched a new website ( Our focus is streaming Marine VHF Radio from locations around the country to Internet users online. For example, an avid fisherman land-locked in Ohio can listen in to Ocean City, MD, Marine VHF Channel 72 and hear the captains reporting real time fishing reports!
    A few marinas already have really nice webcams and are interested in taking on this added functionality which will bring more patrons to
    their website and ultimately, more business to the marina. We have agreed to provide free advertising for the marina and can provide a link to the audio stream.

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