Do I need a satellite phone on my boat?

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It depends. There are two main reasons you would want a satellite phone on your boat. An SHTF situation or to simply check in with work, friends, or family. Let’s start with SHTF.  

#1 SHTF situation

1) Epirb: The device with the big red button that sends an alert to the coast guard with your GOPS coordinates. If you hit the button then you are stating the barbarians are at the gate and you need someone to come save your arse! So here comes the coast guard. The service is free but if you hit the red button by mistake you may get charged a boat load of money no pun intended. Cost for an Epirb is generally $400 – $1,500 and they last a few years on the same battery.

2) Satellite Communicator: This device does not communicate with the coast guard but does have the red button. Push that and it goes to what is like a 24/7 monitoring center that will then alert the authorities with your GPS coordinates. You can also use it to text. It’s not as user friendly as your iphone but it works. It’s also more expensive. You don’t reply back LOL on these unless sending that comment is worth .50 to you. Satellite Communicators typically run $200 – $400 with monthly plans from $10 to $50.

3) Satellite Phone: It’s like an old school phone on your boat that works from anywhere. Some of them like the Inmarsat 2.1 and Iridium Extreme also have the red SOS button. The big luxury is you have voice and text ability from anywhere in the world. In a SHTF situation it would probably be nice to call some of your folk in case the red button on the other device didn’t do jack. It may be also good in those less than clear moments. “Hey is this Seatow? Yeah so we aren’t swimmin yet but I’m coming in lopsided so you best be ready.”
Cost is usually around $600 – $1,200 with monthly plans from $30 –to infinity.

#2 Communication

1) Epirb: You could press the button and have a chat with the coast guard. They will be in a great mood.

2) Satellite Communicator: Most of these have unlimited texting for sending PRESET messages. Typically, you get around 10 of them. You can also send a custom text that usually takes a few minutes to go through.  These are usually around .50 per text. Some of these are separate devices that connect to your phone like the ZOLEO and others are stand along units with a little screen and some old school text input such as the Garmin Inreach.

3) Satellite Phone: The top dog on the water. Text if you want or just call up your work, friends, family.  On average you can expect to pay around $1 a minute based on your plan which can range from $50 to $1,000 a month. Unlimited plans are typically over $600 a month – a bargain compared to owning a boat.

Check out the top 7 satellite phones for a boat on