Satellite Phone

I’ve been going on more and more canoe trips in areas that don’t have cell phone coverage. I need to provide support for my office. My business is willing to provide a satellite phone, but I’m concerned with short battery life. If I’m not in cell range, I probably won’t be near electricity to recharge the battery.

Has anyone used a satellite phone for routine communication rather than just emergency use? How do you deal with the short battery life? Any advice would be very much appreciated.


just my 2 cents
but what about a solar charger.

Does anyone have experience with a solar charger?

Just my luck it will be raining.


Another thread
If you have not seen it, there is a thread entitled “seeking advice on communications” on this page. May have infor for you.


Let’s back up a minute. Is this your business? I know from past posts you are a 70 year old widower. Forgive me for asking, but do you really need/want to be working while you’re out in the sticks? Carrying a satellite phone for emergencies is one thing, but to create a portable office kinda defeats the purpose. I’m a business owner and I just make sure I leave the place in good hands when I’m gone. People know not to call unless it’s life or death. Just something to think about.


put a solar charger…
…in my Mother’s car to keep the battery up as she uses it very little in the winter.

Sitting on her kitchen table it was putting out 17 volts hooked to my meter. Not a lot of amps of course but you may not need much to keep a small 6 or 12 volt phone battery charged.

solar charger plus you can
just set up designated times that you will turn on your phone.

Here’s the issue. I am the Chief Medical Officer for a company I founded that does clinical trials of new cancer treatments. As such, I am the one who has to make decisions as to whether a patient should be treated on a study or for existing patients, what should be done if a complication arises. I can get another MD to cover when I’m out, but it’s very expensive AND they simply aren’t as familiar with this issues as I am.

We are searching for another Doc full time in anticipation of my stopping work at the end of the year, BUT another company in Maryland (Duckhead land) is very interested in having me join the to run their clinical research program.

Another issue in my continuing to work, besides staying intellectually active, is the fact that as you say, I am a widower, and the things my wife and I wanted to do when I retired are no longer in the cards. So instead, I go canoeing as often as possible, and am eternally grateful to my companions who tolerate having this old guy along.

So I’m not sure if you’re simply concerned about my well being, or if you’re shocked that I’m still breathing :).

Richard (aka Doc)

sat phones
While not a climber myself, I do notice these day the Mt. Everest climbers are all using satellite phones to talk to their families and such.

Now, if they can be in Naple for 3 months and manage to make the battery last that long, my guess there must be pretty obvious ways for it to work.

How about a spare battery or two!
As an alternative to solar, you can buy spare batteries to take with you. You should be able to have ample battery life that way as well as modularity, i.e., take more for longer trips. Not all satellite phones and services are equal. Shop between them for the right sat phone model and service.

It is also possible to hook up your satellite phone to a Li Polymer battery like the one that uses for their canoe and kayak bilge pumps. That battery has a huge reserve, more than enough to provdie what you wish.


Those seem like very good suggestions.


Let me try again
Joe, I think you’re exactly right. A portable office is not an essential item on a canoe camping trip.

We’ll just have to find a way for the business to get by while I’m out.


I was having the same pronlem
until I spoke to a guy from Nokia. He says the problem is the new phones that Verizon, Cingular and the rest are selling. Any of them that are GSN network phones are pretty much useless once you get out in the boonies because they no longer work like the old style GAIT phones which would accept an analog signal which is all you get in most rural areas. Most rural areas were set up with cell service by a federal grant back in the 90’s, but there is no plan to upgrade these rural systems to be compatible with the GSN type phones. So unless one of the phone companies does it on their own, that camera phone that gets video and streaming real time stock quotes won’t be worth a darn if you get two miles off the interstate in NE Oklahoma.

Cingular still supports these phones but they are hard to find. I have an old Nokia 6100 series and the national GAIT no roaming, no long distance plan and I have very little trouble getting a signal anywhere. My paddling buddies are constantly complaining about my phone ringing on the river. I also carry a hand crank phone charger because analog networks drain your battery faster because the phone is constantly searching for a signal.

Besides battery life…
Depending on where you plan on paddling, you might want to check out various coverage areas… Iridium still offers, I believe the most worldwide coverage but there are cheaper ones like Globalstar that do the US and Carribbean and then there are even ones who focus on the middle east because of the solders there who still like to be in contact with family.

I had an Iridum based Kyocera phone when I was in Wrangell St. Elias. I had an “account” with the phone service but if I was to do it again, I would stay with phone cards and use that. Getting your money back from the account took like 90 days!!!


Thank y’all
for your helpful comments.


BGAN is coming to US
have a look at who are providing sat broadband global area network. Plenty of marine experience with this in use with Volvo Ocean race enroute to Rio at present.

Not to sound crude
But what’s your succession plan? Your camping trips may be a good time for someone else to get their feet wet while you can still bail them out a few days later. Not that it’s any of my business…

Planning on testing any interesting inhaleable anti-nausia drugs?-) (not that I do such things these days)

Have fun paddling and working and balancing the two.

Succession Plan
They are actively recruiting. I am hopeful they will find someone soon.


In the meantime…
Let’s make the most of the day. We’ll have to get out soon for a day paddle. Aren’t you from the Columbus area? I’m from Findlay. Let me know if you want to hit one of the reservoirs down your way and I’ll meet you down there.


Hey Joe
I can’t this week - some of us are going to Wrightsville for a “paddle and compare” of solo canoes. (See thread in “Getting Together…”) But next week looks good. I’ll send you an e-mail so we can discuss off line.