Q&A: Should I Get a Navtex?


Member Tobias Asks [edited for brevity]:

I would like to be able to receive Navtex along the European coast.

landfallnav_2271_191409365I’m considering purchasing a SI-TEX NAVFAX 200 receiver.

The unit seems to do what I need: The NAV-FAX 200 includes a data interface port, cable and software for viewing and printing weatherfax images and data.

Note that I have decided not to buy an SSB radio or install a PACTOR modem.

John Answers:

Navtex is transmitted on 518 kHz and 490 kHz and this receiver claims to cover everything from 30 kHz to 30 mHz range, so it should be able to pick up the Navtex signal. What is not clear to me is whether or not the software will decode Navtex.

Answering A Question with a Question

Does anyone out there have first-hand experience with the SI-TEX NAVFAX 200 receiver and specifically receiving Navtex on it? If so, please leave a comment.

And a Larger Question

However, there is a larger question here:

As I remember, you are planning to buy an Iridium phone. If so, you can get away without any Navtex receiver at all, since most marine authorities publish their Navtex broadcasts in text on the internet. For example, here are the UK notices.

Therefore all you need to do is make sure that you know the URL of the page you are interested in before you leave, and then download it to your computer using Iridium. Here are detailed instructions on how to do this.

I used to be a big fan of Navtex, but since the above described capability became available, I have not used my Navtex at all.

But Wait…

Having said that, my method is not without its flaws since it requires me to take active action. The advantage of a Navtex receiver is that it’s always on and will warn you of anything really urgent in a way neither my method or the SI-TEX NAVFAX 200 receiver will. Navtex is also an approved solution under GMDSS.

I think, on balance, for crowded European waters where it’s important to be aware of changing situations like, for example, a restricted area, I would fit a dedicated Navtex receiver (as long as it’s not this one.)

Does anyone out there have recent first-hand experience with a dedicated Navtex receiver that works well in European waters and receives on both 518 kHz and 490 kHz? If so, please leave a comment.

What About Weatherfax?

IridiumGoApolloFrontAll of the above may not preclude purchasing the SI-TEX NAVFAX 200, since it is a good solution for receiving weatherfax, but these days I would invest the money in an Iridium GO! and an unlimited data package.

We started using a GO! last summer and I’m super-impressed. More on that in a review of the GO! that I’m planning.

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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