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Voyager IP ‘rows in’ to support Irishwoman’s record-making solo Atlantic row

A compact Thales Vesselink unit and a military grade Iridium Extreme satphone, both supplied by Voyager IP, will be vital in keeping Irish University lecturer Dr Karen Weekes in touch with the outside world as she embarks on a record-making 3,000-mile/4,800 kilometre solo row across the Atlantic in December 2021.

Mark Elliott, managing director, Voyager IP with Dr Karen Weekes and the Thales unit atop Millie, her rowboat, as it awaits loading at Dublin docks for Gran Canaria, the jump-off point for her solo row across the Atlantic. Photo: Silver Image

Voyager IP has sponsored airtime on the Thales unit so Karen can upload videos and make calls during her 70-day journey. If she succeeds, it will also be the first time that an Irish woman has rowed solo across any ocean on Earth.

Easy to use, adaptable and robust,  the Thales VesseLINK unit sourced by Voyager IP is manufactured by Lars Thrane A/S and supplied and supported by the AST Group, for which Voyager IP is its agent in Ireland. It uses the Iridium Certus® network to provide critical marine operations with a lifeline to shore whenever or wherever a vessel is at sea. It offers an affordable, enterprise-grade solution designed to meet the unique challenges of maritime environments. It can be installed as a stand-alone solution or used as a VSAT companion.

Mark Elliott, managing director, Voyager IP, said  “Simple, compact and most of all, reliable, the Thales Vesselink, with the satphone as backup, is the perfect support for Karen’s epic journey. It will keep her in touch with family, friends and the media every step of the way. We’re delighted to be involved; it’s not often you get a chance to support a record-making bid like this. She’ll be making some exclusive calls for us to share as we monitor her progress across the Atlantic.”

For Voyager IP,  sponsoring Karen fits into its own strategy of supporting women in sport. The company also sponsors Nicole Lynch from Dublin, Ireland’s fastest female motorbike racer, who champions participation in her sport with the hashtag #girlscandoittoo.

Dr Weekes wants to encourage females to take part in more adventure and endurance sports, which is why the campaign for her upcoming Atlantic row is called “SheCanDo2021”. Dr Weekes hopes her journey will also highlight two of the UN’s Sustainability Goals, gender equality and ocean conservation.

The experienced adventurer, with a PhD in sports psychology, lectures in sport, health and physical education at Munster Technological University in the South-West of Ireland. Her long list of physical endurance achievements includes sailing the Atlantic Ocean twice, a 4,000-mile cycle across Canada, and a 1,000-mile kayak around Ireland.

Karen’s boat is named ‘Millie’ after her mother and it left Dublin by ship at the end of October for Gran Canaria, the jump off point for her row. It is due to arrive there by end November and it is where Karen will be making final preparations.  She will set off in December, rowing southwest to catch the trade winds, which she hopes should give her an extra boost as she aims to reach Barbados in roughly 70 days.

Karen Weekes said: The closest person to me when I’m mid-Atlantic will be in a space station, so I’ll be waving up to the lads above me! Having high end communication equipment provided alongside the expertise of Voyager IP should allow me to have essential interaction with land during both stormy conditions and the calmer days while out at sea’

Follow her progress @shecando2021 on all media platforms or at www.shecando2021.org

Karen Weekes and Millie face a 70-day, 3,000-mile journey across the Atlantic in December. Photo: Andreas Riemenschneider

Voyager IP wins Irish Naval Service VSAT Contract

Richard McGrath, operations manager, Voyager IP, who oversaw the installation

Voyager IP was recently awarded the contract by the Irish Naval Service (INS) for the supply and installation of VSAT hardware that will standardise the communications platform across the fleet.  

As project lead,  Voyager IP worked with Cobham and the AST Group to source and deliver the right solution for the INS.  Cobham, for which Voyager IP is now the recommended Irish reseller, is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of marine and aerospace communications technology. The AST Group is a leading marine and land-based voice and high-speed data company, whose distribution network provides connectivity solutions on every continent.

Commander Brian Mathews, OIC, CIS Irish Naval Service, said “The Irish Naval Service is a modern technology enabled maritime military force that relies on communications systems to support naval operations at sea and to provide welfare services to our crews. With a maritime domain of nearly a million square kilometres, most patrolling takes place over the horizon with communications via satellite services.

As our satellite communications support partner, Voyager IP understands our communications needs and they ensure we have ‘always on’ satellite communications as they know that  no communications means no mission.  Voyager IP has a deep knowledge of satellite communications solutions which they align to our requirements, ensuring we have an optimal communications service to ensure the Naval Service can protect Ireland’s interests at sea 24/7/365 days of the year.”

Voyager IP has also utilised the services of Cork-based Mariteq Solutions to assist in the installation of the new hardware, which is now nearing completion. 

Mark Elliott, managing director, Voyager IP, said  “We were delighted to win the contract with the Irish Naval Services, and this further solidifies our position as the go-to company for Cobham antennas and marine VSAT support services in Ireland.

Voyager IP partners with Ekahau to target marine business

We’re delighted to announce our new partnership with Ekahau, the global leader in wireless network solutions.

Wi-Fi is at the frontline of the onboard experience but a fast, reliable wireless network across a vessel is a complex challenge. Poor Wi-Fi can be caused by several issues that include ‘dead zones’, signal interference, signal to noise ratio and channel utilisation.

The newly launched Dynamiq GTT 135 Stefania optimised its onboard Wi-Fi using Ekahau from Voyager IP

The Ekahau brand is trusted by some of the world’s biggest brand names like Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Cisco and Dell, to keep their wireless networks performing as they should.

Up until now, locating and fixing the problems of poor Wi-Fi onboard ship could be notoriously tricky, according to Mark Elliott, managing director of Voyager IP.   “There’s a world of difference between a good internet connection and good Wi-Fi.  Wi-Fi is like electricity onboard ship, in that if it’s not working to the best of its ability, it makes little difference who or what else is. Not only can poor Wi-Fi cause frustrating downtime and outages, but it also has a negative impact on the performance and reputation of a vessel that’s available for hire or charters.”

Using Ekahau’s professional grade Wi-fi diagnostic software and tools, Voyager IP can quickly identify the root cause of the problem and suggest the fix, with minimal disruption to the ship’s day to day activities.  “In the majority of cases, once the problem is identified, the solution to fixing a wireless network issue can be frequently cost-effective and easy to implement,” Elliott continued.

Several clients have already benefited from the Ekahau service with Voyager IP. It was employed at the planning stage for the 41-metre Dynamiq GTT 135 Stefania to identify the optimal position and configuration for the yacht’s Wi-Fi access points.  For the Celtic Explorer owned by the Marine Institute of Ireland, Voyager IP surveyed and mapped the existing network and the results were used to maximise its performance.

Commenting on the new partnership, Steve Litzow, SVP Global Sales for Ekahau, saidWe are thrilled that Voyager IP’s customers now have access to professional-grade tools to build and maintain high-performing Wi-Fi networks, a critical element of today’s marine business infrastructure. Ekahau’s tools will enable Voyager IP’s customers to plan, validate, analyse and troubleshoot their Wi-Fi networks faster and easier than ever before to keep business running smoothly.”

The Celtic Explorer owned by the Marine Institute of Ireland used Ekahau from Voyager IP to maximise its Wi-Fi performance

Voyager IP delivered vital comms to Dr Karen Weekes during solo Atlantic crossing

Voyager IP delivered vital comms support to Dr Karen Weekes on her successful and history-making 2,614 nautical miles, 80-day solo row across the Atlantic.  Beginning in the Canaries in Dec 2021 and ending on 24 February 2022 in Barbados, Karen is the first Irish woman to row the Atlantic solo and one of only 20 women who have rowed any ocean alone.

Throughout the epic voyage, using the Thales VesselLINK unit supplied by Voyager IP backed up by its senior support personnel, Karen was able to keep in touch with her team and the international media, carrying out interviews and uploading videos of her progress through fair and foul weather.

Karen said, “Knowing that my team were available 24/7 certainly gave me peace of mind throughout the journey, especially during stormy days out at sea. My thanks to Voyager IP, especially Stavros Gianakakis, for his commitment and support in making sure I always had somebody to talk to, no matter what was happening at sea.”

Somex Automation in Cork provided technical and financial support to Karen’s team and worked closely with Stavros Gianakakis, Voyager IP’s Platform and Infrastructure Director, throughout the project.  Managing director Michael Wall said: “I would like to thank Stavros Gianakakis most especially for providing extraordinary support to us. At various times over the past few months, we had called on Stav to support and guide us with setting the equipment and with various issues that arose. Day of week or time of day did not matter to Stav; he was contactable on his mobile phone, patient and effective at any time of day, night and weekend and we greatly appreciate this. He devoted many hours of his time to providing support.”

Michael’s praise was echoed by Karen’s project manager, Dr Susan Kennedy of the Letterkenny Institute of Technology. Susan said “I fully agree with Michael. Stav gently and steadily lifted a lot of un-needed stress for Karen at a very important time during her preparation.  Thank you so much for that!”

Easy to use, adaptable and robust,  the Thales VesseLINK unit used by Karen was sourced by Voyager IP as its Irish agent. It uses the Iridium Certus® network to provide critical marine operations with a lifeline to shore whenever or wherever a vessel is at sea. It offers an affordable, enterprise-grade solution designed to meet the unique challenges of maritime environments. It can be installed as a stand-alone solution or used as a VSAT companion.

Mark Elliott, managing director, Voyager IP, said “Huge congratulations to Karen on her fantastic achievement.  All our team were behind her, with Stav going above and beyond in providing support, so we are delighted with the recognition and feedback. If Karen decides to take on another ocean, it’d be our pleasure to support her!”

Caption: Karen Weekes arrives in Barbados following her 80 day solo row across the Atlantic.  Photo: doorusphoto.net

MY Ragnar, destined for incredible voyages, supported by Voyager IP

MY Ragnar – mixing luxury surroundings with top class comms and hardcore exploration capabilities

We’re proud to be the chosen provider of a suite of communications to the explorer yacht the MY Ragnar, which like its namesake, the legendary Norse warrior king, is imposing and fearless, a radical makeover of a former icebreaker.

The 68.2 metre luxury explorer is the first LY3 Superyacht rated Ice Class 1A Super, able to operate in temperatures as low as -35°C and maintain a speed of four knots in ice over half a metre thick.  It will mix luxury surroundings and top-class communications from Voyager IP with hardcore exploration capabilities, and it offers the promise of incredible journeys out of reach of other superyachts.

Richard Kaye, head of technical operations and sales at Arcon Yachts, said “As Ragnar is one of the most capable explorer yachts out there, we wanted to use one of the most capable communications suppliers in the business. That’s why we chose Voyager IP to handle the job.”

Mark Elliott, managing director, Voyager IP, “We’ve been working with Richard and his team for several years on other boats. The Ragnar project is very special, so the team and I are extremely proud that the communications for such a unique vessel has been entrusted to us.” 

For the project, we chose to work with IEC Telecom to provide the necessary communications to ensure the MY Ragnar is compliant with international safety and security treaties and codes.  This includes the management of the LRIT system, the SSAS and Inmarsat C. We will also be providing a global VSAT service for onboard communications for crew and clients as it navigates and enjoys some of the more extreme routes in the maritime world.

MY Ragnar – destined for places other superyachts can’t reach

Gwenael Loheac, CEO Western & Southern Europe at IEC Telecom: “It is a very inspiring project. On the basis of Inmarsat FX, our team developed a customized solution to meet the specific requirements of this majestic vessel. By enhancing the VSAT set-up with IEC Telecom’s value-added services, Ragnar’s crew and guests will be able to enjoy a higher bandwidth and better user experience no matter how far their journey will take them.”

MY Ragnar’s captain Rob Lancaster said, “Ragnar is destined to travel to some of the most remote and exciting spots on earth so expertly managed communications and tracking systems are vital for the safety and enjoyment of my crew and clients.  I’ve been working with Voyager IP for several years and I know I can trust its team to have my back no matter where we are.”

Voyager IP supports Irish Naval Service in fight against COVID-19

Richie McGrath, operations manager for Voyager IP, pictured at the L.E. James Joyce, moored in Galway and the L.E. Niamh, moored in Dublin. Both Irish Naval Service ships are now mobile testing centres for Covid-19.

Voyager IP  is proud to support the Irish Naval Service and the HSE in the fight against Covid-19, by implementing a secure cellular connection on board several INS vessels moored around the country. The INS is providing aid to the civil authorities by utilising operational naval vessels as testing centres for the virus.  Voyager IP’s managing director Mark Elliott said, “We have implemented a solution that enhances information and data transfer to ensure that the coordination of testing operations is managed using secure and effective communications to support the HSE and other organisations at the frontline of fighting the coronavirus.”

Irish Naval Service technical support contract win for Voyager IP

Delighted to announce that our office in Cobh, Co Cork, will be providing RF, IT and AV technical communications support to the Irish Naval Services fleet, including the newest addition, the P64 LE George Bernard Shaw, pictured. With a great breadth of in-house expertise, our Cobh office is ideally positioned to support the ever-growing communications needs of the Irish Naval Service and the thriving port of Cork.

Voyager IP is partner in Eurofleets + Project

Mark Elliott, managing director, Voyager IP (3rd row from front, white shirt) with scientists and research vessel operators at the kick-off of the EU H2020 Eurofleets + project.
Voyager IP is delighted to be a partner in the EU H2020 Eurofleets + project, for which it will be providing recommendations on standardising communications aboard the largest advanced research vessel fleet across Europe, Greenland, USA, Canada, Bermuda and New Zealand.

There are 27 state-of-the-art research vessels from European and other international partners involved in the project, giving marine researchers opportunities to access research vessels in the North Atlantic, Mediterranean, Black Sea, North Sea, Baltic Sea, Pacific Southern Ocean and Ross Sea.

Mark Elliott, managing director, Voyager IP, said “The typical communications challenges facing such a large research vessel fleet are centred around the different systems and platforms they use.  Voyager IP will be helping the fleet to manage those challenges by offering a standardised communications solution with the required resilience and links to optimise the connectivity of the fleet onshore and afloat.”

The Marine Institute in Ireland is the coordinator of Eurofleets+, which includes a consortium of 42 marine institutes, universities, foundations and SMEs from 24 countries across Europe, North America and Oceania, with funding of €9.9 million. It follows on from the success of two previous Eurofleets projects.

Establishing a strategic roadmap and sustainability plan, Eurofleets+ will extend and enhance the capabilities of the European research vessel infrastructure, bringing new perspectives, new ideas, and new research and innovation tracks that will be beneficial to all. The project will prioritise research on sustainable, clean and healthy oceans, linking with existing ocean observation infrastructures, as well as supporting innovative ideas, working closely with industry.

More information on Eurofleets+ is available on www.eurofleets.eu.

What do charter clients complain most about?

It’s not the food, the décor, the size of the bedrooms or the staff.  A recent survey by Voyager IP revealed that the top client charter complaint is the lack of a fast internet (VSat) connection.   

Tripp Hock, captain of the MY Amore Mio said, “It’s an absolute necessity to have good, stable, fast internet on board.  While many other issues relating to the operation of a yacht can go unnoticed by the guests, there is no way to hide a frustratingly slow VSat connection at sea.”

The captains were also asked if the availability of a fast internet connection is now more important than ever before, in terms of securing client charters.  Tripp Hock responded, “Absolutely, and the primary reason for this is the shift in TV content delivery. Those yachts which are not using a stable and reliable Ka VSat service are going to be impacted as guests continue the move from satellite TV to streaming content.”

All those surveyed rated reliability as the most important aspect of their Ka VSat service from Voyager IP. Sergey Nikiforov, captain of the Galactica Plus commented, “Aside from social media and entertainment, our clients demand frequent access to business and financial news. Our internet connection must be stable and reliable, with upload and download speeds comparable to on-shore providers, and backed up by great support whenever we need it. “

Ka technology differs from the traditional Ku band satellite internet in that instead of a large ‘footprint’, it uses multiple spot beams to provide overlapping coverage. Voyager IP, partnered with Telenor, offers the Ka service with lower bandwidth costs than those of the Ku and C band service currently on the market.

Nick Allen is the fleet manager for Rix Shipping, operators of crew transfer vessels to the offshore industry. He commented, “While not always the first concern, clients expect proper communications when they have a vessel on contract and they assume this will be like a shore side connection. Therefore, it is important to have a service in place that meets that expectation.”

Tripp Hock added “In more than three years with Voyager IP as my VSat service provider of choice, I can both recommend to others and take comfort myself that my guests’ data appetites will be satisfied!”