KVH Marine VSAT Lets Transatlantic Sailor Stay Connected to Kids

Boatowner Mike Wallace holds iPad.
Onboard "Arbella" in the middle of the Atlantic, Captain Mike uses his iPad – and KVH's TracPhone V3 system – to do a FaceTime chat with schoolkids. (Photo courtesy of Mike Wallace.)
Boatowner Mike Wallace holds iPad.
Onboard “Arbella” in the middle of the Atlantic, Captain Mike uses his iPad – and KVH’s TracPhone V3 system – to do a FaceTime chat with schoolkids. (Photo courtesy of Mike Wallace.)

This just in: Arbella, a 59-foot Oyster sailboat owned by Americans Mike and Vicki Wallace, and outfitted with a KVH TracPhone V3 marine satellite communications system, just completed a 2,800-nautical-mile Atlantic crossing (from Las Palmas, Spain, to St. Lucia) as part of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers – and Mike Wallace reports how much he enjoyed doing video FaceTime chats with his family and a group of schoolchildren – all from the middle of the Atlantic. The TracPhone V3 system is part of the mini-VSAT Broadband solution for marine VSAT by KVH.

“What a unique pleasure and experience it was to hold a FaceTime session with my grandkids in New Jersey (ages 10, 7, and 5), and, separately, with my wife in Denver, just as we were passing the midway point in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers….in the middle of the Atlantic….1500 miles from land in either direction!  The clarity of the exchange was as if I were at home in Annapolis, Maryland,” said Captain Mike, by e-mail to British marine IT specialist Gavin Painter at IT@C.

TracPhone V3 on Arbella, underway during Atlantic crossing
KVH’s TracPhone V3 is mounted on the 59-foot Oyster yacht “Arbella,” shown during the transatlantic crossing. (Photo courtesy of Mike Wallace.)

“I not only “showed them” around Arbella, but also showed them the 8-10 foot seas topside, with 25 knot winds, as we sped along at 10 knots!  Needless to say, it was a bonding and emotional experience for us all! The reliability and overall performance of the KVH VSAT equipment has been superb!  Further, several days later, the 3rd grade class at Lake Magdalene School in Florida (where my sister-in-law teaches) did FaceTime with me, and received the same “tour aboard”…they have been following our blog and learning about the Atlantic Ocean and related history from my entries…they saw me on a big classroom screen…I saw them clearly on my iPad. Moreover, daily phone calls home by all the crew were quite well supported by flawless performance…With reasonable cost, and top notch performance, why would anyone do an extended ocean passage and not have a VSAT unit?”

The blog diary Captain Mike kept during the 14-day passage, “Wallace’s Sailing Adventure on Arbella,” makes great reading, especially for the armchair sailor in us all!

About Jill Connors 94 Articles
In orbit as Media Relations Manager for KVH Industries, Inc.


  1. It’s great that the Wallaces enjoy their KVH TracPhone V3 so much and what a great way to use this system, what an experience for Mr. Wallace to share his transatlantic passage live with his grandchildren and the 3rd graders in Florida.

    I know that the Wallaces had an Inmarsat FB150 onboard as well as the V3 that we supplied to our friends at IT@C, however, I think one vital thing to point out here is the cost benefit of the KVH TracPhone V3. Had Mike used his Inmarsat FB150 instead of the TracPhone V3, then the costs of his ‘FaceTime’ calls would have been much more.

    With each minute of ‘FaceTime’ using about 3MB of data, and say an average length of call being 10 minutes to show the children around the boat, this is how the costs would have stacked up:

    – Inmarsat airtime for 30MB – approx $540 to $840 (depending on rate plan)

    – KVH Mini VSAT airtime for 30 MB – approx $30 – $60 (depending on rate plan)

    And that is just one 10 minute ‘FaceTime’ call. Imagine the savings when browsing the Internet. It you intend on using data while on your yacht, you definitely should have KVH TracPhone V3 onboard.

    • WOW that is groundbreaking stuff!

      I am a mechanical engineer that works on gyroscopic systems. How do I become a reseller for these units? I have tons of friends who would shy away from FBBs because of the monthly cost, but this airtime sounds way more attractive.

    • Thanks, Andrew! Very interesting comparison, especially when you consider that the FaceTime chat using Inmarsat pricing would have cost as much as the iPad Mike Wallace used when having the chat!
      To see how far sailors like the Wallaces can travel while using mini-VSAT Broadband, check out our coverage map.

    • Thanks for you comment! There is more information about marine satellite communications solutions at http://www.minivsat.com/one. There are also some good forums related to maritime satellite communications on LinkedIn, if you join groups such as the “Marine Electronics & Communications Networking Group.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.