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15th November 2017

Maritime Satcoms - An interview with sailor Lisa Blair

This year, Sydney-based solo sailor Lisa Blair, broke the world record and became the first woman to circumnavigate Antarctica, and Satcom Global supported her epic journey by providing the means for Lisa to communicate with friends, family and the rest of the world via satellite communications. Satcom Global equipped Lisa with an Inmarsat Fleet One terminal  offering data and voice, as well as an Iridium GO! so she could keep in touch with the outside world via her own smartphone.

  • Can you please give us an idea about why and how often you were required to use satellite communications at sea?

Satellite communications was my main form of communicating.  I only used the VHF to raise a ship in congestion areas like below South Africa or in the Bass Straight.  Other than that, all my communication was on satellite.  The main reason for this is that I was mostly communicating with family and friends as well as my shore team to check in and let everyone know I was okay.  I did have a HF on-board but it was simply a whole lot easier to send an SMS position update than to arrange skeds through the HF when I was going through all the different time zones.

  • What did you use the Inmarsat Fleet One terminal and Iridium GO! for? 

I would use the Fleet One mainly for all my phone call conversations as it was easier to hear with, I would also use this for all my data, sending videos, photos and blogs back and downloading weather.

I would use the Iridium GO! for the tracking feature, sending SMS to my family, friends and shore team as position reports or simply to say hi. Occasionally I would make calls over the Iridium GO! or download some weather through this if I didn’t wish to boot up the computer.

  • How important was it for you to be able to send content such as blogs back to shore?

One of my biggest aims with this journey is to share it with the world and to take people on the journey with me, this was mostly achieved through my detailed blogs, so without this I feel that I would have struggled to connect and share my journey.

  • How important was it for you to be able to keep in touch with family / friends?

Hugely important, not just for me but for them as well.  I would be thousands of miles from land completely alone and never felt lonely because my friends and family were only a phone call away.

  • How reliable was your satellite connection even in different weather conditions and locations?

Overall given the rigours of the ocean that I was sailing in, I feel that both the Fleet One and the Iridium GO! go held up really well.  I was able to connect almost the whole time.  

  • What was the most important feature of your satellite communications solution?

The SMS feature of the Iridium GO! is one of my favourite things.  I didn’t need to boot up a computer and go through a lengthy process to connect with someone.  I simply would SMS and within seconds I would get a reply back from someone.  It changed the whole feel of the trip and made me feel always connected, and on such a long solo journey like mine it was really important.

  • What impact has the ability to take part in live interviews from sea, had on your campaign?

One of the key goals was to raise awareness of the Climate Action Now message while sailing solo at sea, so because I had the ability to do live radio and tv interviews at sea I was really able to bring my message to the world.  It would have been very hard to do without this. 

  • What do you think it would have been like not to have connectivity for long periods of time?

If I didn’t have connectivity, I feel that I would have likely suffered more negative days at sea.  When times were tough, it was a call or text from family and friends that kept me going so the trip would have been a whole lot harder without the ability to connect.

  • What was the main benefit of having access to satellite communications during your challenge?

The main benefit as always was to be able to talk and text with my family.  This was a huge benefit for me and them.  My poor family would have had a lot more sleepless nights without me being able to send updates that I was okay during the bigger storms of the trip.  It was a really important part of the journey.

  • How vital was the support you received from Satcom Global?

Overall by providing me with the ability to connect with my family, friends and shore crew as well as helping me in sharing my journey with the world and continuing to raise awareness of the message Climate Action Now I feel that the support from Satcom Global was very vital.  My journey would have been so different without it.


Following her epic journey, Lisa is now conducting a speaking tour on the East Coast of Australia along with putting together the first all-female crew in 16 years to compete in this year’s Rolex Sydney-to-Hobart Yacht Race commencing on Boxing Day 2017. We wish her all the best of luck for the future and look forward to working with her again to support her during her upcoming challenges.

For further information on our maritime satellite communications please check out our product portfolio here or [email protected]

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Lisa Blair
I feel that the support from Satcom Global was very vital. My journey would have been so different without it."
Lisa Blair, the first woman to sail solo around Antarctica below 45 degrees