Winlink – HF and VHF Radio Email For Emergencies and SHTF

Winlink – When the Internet Is down

I just got my station up and running for both VHF and HF Winlink. The software is all free and available at I am personally using a software package called AGW Express Interface which lets me use my SignaLink USB without requiring me to have a hardware TNC.

I personally wanted a way to send emergency email if it ever hits the fan and this seemed like the most established worldwide network to use – particularly in case of infrastructure outage over the entire East Coast. With everything going on in the world, and with Mother Nature, it seemed like a very good idea!

I highly recommend you consider setting up your own Winlink capabilities for your own emergency protection.

Below are several videos that will acquaint you with Winlink – including a quick overview, video on how one ham put Winlink to good use during a power outage and a detailed video by K4REF on the entire Winlink network and how all the pieces fit together.

Lastly, is a video of how Winlink was used to save 14 crew members when the HMS Bounty sank.

The following video gives you a top level overview of Winlink.

Winmor On HF When The Power Grid Goes Down For Days

Here’s a great video from a ham radio operator who planned ahead… And how Winlink and Winmor allowed him to have email communications when the power grid was down for several days:  

 What Is Winlink?

This is an excellent video by Rick, K4REF, that gives the top down perspective on Winlink and the types, paths, and modes of a radio-based global messaging system.

HMS Bounty’s Captain Sends Winlink Message — Saves 14 Crew As HMS Bounty sinks.

Here’s a real life and death story about how Winlink made the difference in saving the lives of 14 people.

The Sinking of the HMS Bounty - Winlink - HF and VHF Radio Email For Emergencies and SHTF?rel=0
The Sinking of the HMS Bounty


On Monday morning, October 29, 2012 the tall ship HMS Bounty was in the embrace of Hurricane Sandy 90 miles off Hatteras, NC and taking on water.

Doug Faunt, N6TQS, survivor and ship’s electrician, told the ARRL that the Bounty crew tried various methods to call for help, including a satellite phone, “… we got nothing when tried calling out on HF. We tried calling the Maritime Mobile Net, but nothing was out there. We had Winlink on the ship that we used for e-mail and accessing the Internet to post to blogs and to Facebook, and we finally found an e-mail address for the Coast Guard. As a last-ditch effort, we used Winlink to e-mail the Coast Guard for help. Within an hour, we heard a C-130 plane, and later, a helicopter overhead.” According to Faunt, it was Captain Robin Walbridge, KD4OHZ, as master of the ship, who sent out the distress messages.

The US Coast Guard has suspended its search for Robin Walbridge, 63, the missing captain of the replica tall ship.

The messages have been removed from the Winlink system and turned over to US Coast Guard authorities for their investigation.

The dramatic Coast Guard rescue of 14 crew from life rafts can be seen in the video below. 

More info on this rescue is available at the ARRL site. Click HMS Bounty Rescue By Winlink for the full story.

(As a side note, my wife and I were actually on the H.M.S. Bounty in 2009 when it visited St. Pete, Florida – three years before the ship’s sinking.)

Winlink – HF and VHF Radio Email For Emergencies and SHTF

There’s a lot more information on the web in general, and YouTube in particular, about Winlink and how you can set it up at your station.

Be prepared…for emergencies and SHTF!


Robert K3RRR

Winlink – HF and VHF Radio Email For Emergencies and SHTF

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