At last there is now an alternative to the problematic SailMail for keeping in touch whilst afloat.
A product on the market which has been extensively tested, and given glowing endorsements from the European cruising community is MailASail http://www.mailasail.com
This product allows the user to download emails and attachments including weather data, using a Satellite Phone such as Iridium or Globalstar in a very short connection time.
On the current ARC cruising rally (Canary Islands to Antigua), almost all the vessels participating are utilising MailASail mainly due to its reliability and ease-of-setup and user-friendly format which virtually every techno-phobic will be able to understand.
The MailASail system is a piece of compression software that firstly strips emails of all but the ‘bare-bones’ and then compresses the message. The final message is approx 1/10th it’s original. The software then performs a very quick upload and downloads utilising the concept of ‘Full-Duplex’ data transfer i.e. does both send and receive simultaneously.
The MailASail system also provides a comprehensive user-selected weather service – sending text and Synoptic charts via the same system through an ‘auto-respond’ feature, in the compressed .tif format or via ‘grib’ file format which is even smaller again but requires a special viewer (available as freeware on the web)
The benefits are immense in that users can send and receive a lot of data very quickly via a Sat-Phone connection – typically a user could send and receive 20 emails plus all the elected Weather data in around 2 minutes of connection time and (system dependant) be completely mid-ocean whilst doing so. There are no limits on how much data you send and receive (apart from your credit card limits) and the additional benefit is that one can take the Sat Phone with them in the case of an emergency and call the authorities directly!
A subscription for MailASail is competitive with SailMail and all reports are that users have had amazing technical support from the company.
Check it out!!