By Ben Ellison
Two Time Two
What are the pros and cons of using satellite radio on boats? SaltyDog,
via PMY Electronics forum
I’ve heard from a number of boaters who say satellite radio is all they need and good riddance to the onboard clutter of CDs or tapes. Time has also shown that range is quite good; cruisers report good reception from western Newfoundland to the mid-Bahamas, Acapulco to Juneau, and hundreds of miles offshore. And, of course, they don’t have the issues with tall buildings or mountains that some drivers experience. Most reports are coming from XM users because there are a lot more of them, but Sirius supposedly has better range to the north. There are lots of hardware options for either service, including marine-quality antennas and stereos with built-in satellite receivers. Some seasonal boaters use gear like the Delphi SKYFi, which, though not marinized, lets them carry the small receiver component—along with its dedicated radio subscription—from boat to car to home.
Cons? I can’t think of any once you’ve gotten over the hurdle of paying for something that we grew up listening to for free. However, nice as it would be to cruise almost anywhere in North America with the reliable companionship of some good DJs and a fair selection of news, sports, and talk channels, I’d take along a regular AM/FM receiver, too. Local radio news and weather can be really useful, plus exploring the dial for unique, even oddball, regional programming can sometimes be a cruising pleasure. —B.E
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This article originally appeared in the July 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.