We installed both the iridium Go, and started using Predict Wind wind a few months on Aloha. We have the unlimited data plan for $125.00/month, and Predict Wind is about $16/mo when you pay for a year in advance. For that price, I can run weather routes all day long if I want. When the internet is available, I get the data off the web, and when not, we use the Iridium Go. We have the Go mounted at the nav station, and the external antenna is on the aft starboard rail with an 18" stainless extension to give it a clear view of the sky. We ran the antenna cable through the same chase all the SSB wire runs through. It was an easy couple of hour install for us.
Just so everyone is clear about what Predict wind does, it runs very detailed routes using 4 different models in this part of the world. On a recent offshore trip from St Augustine, FL to the Chesapeake, we had our first good opportunity to evaluate its usefulness, and we were impressed. The routes include waypoints, wind, wave, and current info, and you can update the route every 12 hours. Also, you have the ability to export the route into what ever navigation software you have. In our case, we export to Open CPN and INavX on the Ipad. As with any weather models, if they all diverge greatly, you have some issues with the forecast. If they are all fairly close, you should have a Higher confidence level in the forecast. Another feature of the routing tool is the ability to specify wind and sea state you would like to avoid, and it will route you clear of the 40 knots of wind and 20 foots seas that you would prefer not to encounter. It also has the ability to run departure plans for a 4 day window, which is intended to help you evaluate when best to leave on your trip. Another nifty feature on the App is the ability to download the iridium satellite constellation, and see them in reference to your current position in order have a higher chance of a good connection of your first attempt.
With regards to the Iridium Go, we were pleased with its performance. We have never had an Iridium phone, so have no basis for comparison. We did install the external antenna, and I think that is the key to good reception. On the trip From St Augustine, we only had to attempt to get our data twice on one occasion. Normally, the entire route was downloaded in about 2 to 3 minutes, and unlike the SSB, it uses almost no battery power in the process. With the unlimited data plan, you are able to get email and text as much as you like. FYI...the latest version of sail mail works with the GO, and we found it worked very well. When we purchase our data plan a few months ago, it came with 5 minutes a month of free voice time. They changed the package last month to include 150 minutes a month of free voice time. The GO creates a wifi hotspot for up to 5 devices, and you use you Iphone or Android as a satphone. Since we sheared our coupling on the last trip, I used about 30 minutes of voice time talking to boatyards while well off shore. We had clear connections, and one dropped call, which we were able to redial right away. Our experience with the GO is faster and easier connections than the SSB, and it will do things the SSB will not.
Mark is correct in that everyone gets weather data from the same sources, and those sources are free. The difference is in the analysis, and Predict Wind is an excellent analytical tool for about the cost of a couple of trips to Starbucks a month. With as much money as we all spend on keeping our boats going, why would you not spend this small amount for an added level of safety. I've earned my living as a pilot for over 40 years, have a better understanding of weather than most, but weather forecasting is still not my day job, and the Predict Wind folks do it better than I can. Okay, I admit it, I need all the help I can get!
I hope sharing our experiences with the Go and PW have answered your questions. We think that for the minimal cost, it is well worth it, and it adds another valuable tool to your collection.
Steve and Liz
Currently in Annapolis, MD