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SkyMate Frequently Asked Questions


Email Service

Q: How long do messages take to be sent?

A: Most messages are delivered within 5 minutes or less just like email delivery at the home or office.

Q: How do I know I have mail?

A: The green message indicator light will indicate the presence of an incoming message. This same light also appears as a green LED on the power switch, and as an amber LED on the side of the communicator (L2). If your PC is powered up and connected to the communicator, the message will automatically be transferred to your PC and a message will be displayed.

Q: How much is 30,000 characters of email?

A: Each line of text is about 100 characters long. So with 30,000 characters you can send about 300 emails that are one line each, or about 100 emails that are three lines each, or about 30 emails that are 10 lines each.

Q: How do I keep out Spam?

A: SkyMate utilizes several spam filters to ensure that you only get the mail you want in your email account. However, if you are concerned about receiving unwanted email, you can specify a specific keyword that must be present in the subject line of an incoming email before the message is sent over the air to your boat. To activate this simply log into your home page on SkyMate’s website and go to Options/Mail Options.

Q: I don’t want another email address. Can I use my regular email account?

A: The most cost efficient way to receive email on your boat is to have a dedicated SkyMate email account which will allow you to only pay for the mail you want. However, you can use SkyMate to “fetch” mail from an existing POP3 email account. Used in combination with the keyword feature, it will be easier to receive email on your boat. Mail sent from your boat will still have your SkyMate email address as the sender.

Q: What happens if someone sends an email in HTML?

A: SkyMate has developed special software for filtering out the HTML code contained in many email messages. In most cases, the text portion of emails containing HTML coding will be forwarded to the SkyMate recipient. Sometimes, emails can be sent in other formats, such as Microsoft Word, PDF, or RTF, which SkyMate will not forward. In these cases the sender will be sent a message asking them to resend the message in plain text format.

Q: What happens if someone sends me a very long email?

A: SkyMate gives you the option of limiting the size of messages that are transmitted over the satellite link to your communicator. If a message needs to be truncated, a short notification is included in the email. The sender will receive a reply stating that the message was truncated, showing the portion that was sent. The sender can then resend the truncated portion in a separate email.

Q: What about email attachments?

A: SkyMate does not support sending of email attachments. Only the text portion of the message will be sent over the satellite link to your communicator. This is one of SkyMate’s security features in preventing viruses from being transmitted to your PC while you’re on your boat. If an incoming email has an attachment, the entire message including the attachment will be saved for you in your SkyMate landside email account for you to view later should you wish when you have an internet connection available.

Q: I'm not sending attachments, why do my emails continue to get rejected?

A: If you think you have configured your mail client for 'plain/text' emails but are still getting notices that you are sending attachment, verify that your ISP is not attaching content to your email. AOL, MSN, YAHOO and others will attach messages and images (e.g. advertisements) to the bottom of your emails. Verify that your ISP is not sending attachments by sending another email account or a friend an email. Following instructions on you email client to inspect the header portion of the email. Look for the phrase 'Content/Type=' and verify the content/type is 'plain/text'.

Weather Service

Q: How many characters does the weather service use?

A: SkyMate offers four options for weather reporting:

  • The NEXRAD color radar reports use the least amount of characters, approximately 600-900 characters per report.
  • The NOAA text reports use approximately 1,000 characters per report.
  • The Point Forecasts also use approximately 1,000 characters per report.
  • The NOAA charts use the most characters, approximately 2,000-6,000 per report.

Voice/Fax Service

Q: Does SkyMate support voice calling?

A: No. SkyMate offers data communications. However, with our voice-relay service, you can have your email read over the phone to any phone service in the US.

Q: Do you offer Fax service?

A: You can have a text email relayed to a fax machine as well. However, you cannot receive faxes or send diagrams or graphics.

Q: Can I send voice or fax messages to any phone number?

A: Currently, messages can be sent to any phone number in the U.S. In late 2007 we hope to provide the same services for international phone numbers.

Position Reporting Service

Q: How many characters do the position reports use?

A: Position reports use 20 characters each. Each monthly service plan includes two free position reports per day.

Q: How does the GPS position reporting work?

A: The SkyMate 100 communicator can be connected to an existing GPS on the boat that outputs NMEA 0183 standard. Alternatively, the SkyMate 200 package includes a communicator with a built in GPS receiver and a GPS antenna. Using your PC on your boat, you specify the email addresses you want the position reports to be sent to and how often. Reports are automatically sent to the specified recipient as long as the SkyMate communicator is connected to a GPS receiver.

Q: How can I or someone else see my position?

A: Each report can be automatically emailed to a recipient at intervals predetermined by the user.. The recipient would receive the lat/lon information in the email and a link to a map showing where in the world the boat is with a yellow X. A history of position reports will also be available on your homepage on the SkyMate website.

Monitoring Service

Q: Why would I need SkyMate SentryMate?

A: The SentryMate system allows SkyMate to continue working for you even when you are off your boat, potentially saving you thousands of dollars in maintenance costs by monitoring your bilge water level, shore power connection, and battery voltage. The system will automatically generate a daily message relaying your boat’s status, and if a problem develops, you (or your harbormaster or caretaker) will be notified by phone, pager, or email. The SkyMate SentryMate system can also monitor up to two additional items of the owners choice. SentryMate systems are sold with or without built in GPS.

Q: How do I specify where to send alert messages?

A: Your subscriber services page on the SkyMate website allows you to specify up to four phone numbers or email addresses for forwarding your monitoring messages.

Q: What is included in the SkyMate SentryMate?

A: The SkyMate SentryMate includes everything you need to stay in touch, stay safe, and protect your boat. Each package includes the SkyMate satellite communicator, power cables, a SkyMate approved VHF band antenna with 30’ of coaxial cable, message indicator light, a USB adapter, SkyMate software, a bilge float switch, AC & DC power sensors, room for two additional sensors, one control switch, and one cable to connect it all to your SkyMate communicator. A backup battery is available for an additional charge. The SentryMate 200 includes a communicator with built in GPS and a GPS antenna.

Hardware Questions

Q: What are the minimum and recommended system requirements for my PC?


CPU400 MHz Pentium II 1 GHz Pentium III
OSWin 98 SE Win XP-SP2
IEIE 6.0 IE 6.0 or 7.0
Screen Size 1024x7681024x768
Memory 256 MB RAM 512 MB RAM
Disk Space 250 MB300 MB

Q: What kind of antenna do I need?

A: All SkyMate systems include the custom SkyMate approved VHF antenna, specially tuned for optimum performance of the SkyMate system. The transmit frequency for the antenna is 148-150 Mhz. The receive frequency is 137-138 Mhz.

Q: Can I use a standard marine VHF antenna?

A: No. The SkyMate systems need a dedicated VHF antenna. The antenna included in the SkyMate package is the antenna designed for maximum performance with the SkyMate system.

Q: How much power does the system use?

A: One of the biggest advantages of SkyMate is its minimal power consumption. When the Communicator is on, it uses about 60 milliamps of current. While transmitting, it uses 2 Amps, but transmissions are very brief (less than one second).

Q: What kind of DC power do I need to run SkyMate?

A: You need 12V DC.

Q: Does SkyMate work with Macintosh computers?

A: SkyMate is compatible with Windows 98 SE, 2000, ME, and XP, and also works with Virtual PC versions of these systems running on Macintosh OS computers. Contact Customer Service for assistance in installation on Virtual PC for Macintosh computers.

Q: What if I already have something connected to the serial port on my computer?

A: Most computers also have USB ports. You can connect your SkyMate Communicator to your PC using the USB port through a serial to USB adapter (Included in all SkyMate packages).

Q: What if I already have something connected to the NMEA output of my GPS?

A: Included with the SkyMate 100 are a set of splitter cables to allow you to connect the GPS signal to the communicator and to one other device at the same time.

Q: Do I need an FCC license to operate SkyMate?

A: No. The use of SkyMate does not require an FCC or any other license.

Q: What are the lights on the communicator for? When should they be on or off?

A: There are two LEDs on the communicator and one external message indicator light. LED 1 should always be on. It is green when there is a satellite in view. Otherwise it is red. If it is off, it means the communicator does not have power. LED 2 is amber when a new email has arrived. The external LED (message indicator light) works exactly the same as LED 2.

Satellite Coverage Questions

Q: Where can I use SkyMate?

A: Currently your SkyMate system will work almost anywhere except the Indian Ocean and the central part of the Pacific Ocean. See the coverage map on the website for more details.

Q: What satellite system does SkyMate use?

A: SkyMate uses the Iridium low-Earth orbit satellite system.

Billing Questions

Q: Why can't I send you a check for my monthly service charges?

A: SkyMate is committed to providing you excellent service at affordable prices. In order to do this, we need to use automated processes that keep our costs down. Automatic credit card billing is one way we can keep our costs down while providing you with outstanding service. If you do not have a credit card, then payment may be made by check, but it must be in advance for one year of service.

Q: How can I make changes to my monthly service plan?

A: Go to www.skymate.com, log in, and select the service plan info link under the profile tab. Then simply select your plan and date of change.

Q: How often can I change service plans?

A: You may change your service plan anytime before the first day of a new calendar month for the change to take effect next month. The Dry Dock Plan must be effective for a minimum of three consecutive months. All plan changes must be in writing. Plans can be changed on the SkyMate website or by emails to billing@skymate.com

Q: How can I check my usage?

A: Log on to the Subscriber Services pages of the website by entering your username and password. Click on the Message Records tab to view a listing of every message, position report, and weather report sent or received from the communicator. Just specify the start and stop dates you would like to see.

Q: I got my invoice by email, but how can I check if my bill is correct?

A: Log on to the Subscriber Services pages of the website by entering your username and password. Click on the Billing History tab to view a list of the last 12 bills for your account. Select the bill in question and you can view each message and how your bill is calculated each month. Feel free to call Customer Service if you have any questions.

Q: How do I activate my account?

A: You can activate you account on the SkyMate website at www.skymate.com, click on Home Page, and then again on Activate at the top right corner of the page. Alternatively you may call the SkyMate Billing Department at 1-866-SkyMate and selecting option 3 from the main phone menu.

Q: How much does the Service cost?

A: Monthly costs depend on the type of plan that is selected and the overall amount of character usage. Detailed information on each plan can be found by clicking on the market segment of interest, and then click on Service Plans.

Q: How many characters does each plan give you?

A: Platinum 50000, Gold 20000, Silver 8000 Drydock -0

Q: If I make any changes to my account when do they take effect?

A: The first day of the next month.

Technical Support Questions

Q: Does SkyMate work with Windows Vista?

A: Vista is Microsoft's newest operating system. It was released well after SkyMate software. If you have a new computer with Vista, download these instructions to allow SkyMate to run. If you need additional assistance call SkyMate technical support.


Q: How do I contact Technical Support?

A: SkyMate’s technical support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week including holidays. Technical support can be reached by email at support@skymate.com, or by phone toll free at 1-866-759-6283 or 703-961-5800 and select option 2 from the main phone menu.

Q: Can I send GRIB files?

A: Currently, SkyMate can only send plain text messages. No GRIB, pictures, or attachments can be sent or received via SkyMate.

Other Questions

Q: Can I use SkyMate to surf the Web?

A: Not at this time. Although the program runs in a browser window on your PC, there is no direct connection to the internet currently available.

Q: How can I purchase SkyMate products?

A: Locate a SkyMate Authorized Dealer on our How to Buy page at www.skymate.com, or call the SkyMate Sales Department at 703-961-5800 or toll free at 1-866-759-6283. Press option one for sales assistance.