July 18, 2009


Part of untying the docklines and heading out to sea is the idea of disconnecting from society and living more simply.
It's a great concept.
And one that I'm ignoring.
90% of my stress while we've been outfitting has come from the question: How will I stay in touch? It's not simply that I would miss reading the Sunday New York Times online (although I would - I love the Modern Love essay...) my job as a freelance writer requires that editors are able to contact me easily (usually so they can ask me questions that were already answered in the 3rd paragraph of the story...)
I'm also really social and the idea of not being able to call a friend and share my latest angst leaves me cold. Our old system from the last boat, where we had all our mail sent to Ev's parents then mailed out enmass when we were approaching a reliable address, isn't going to cut it this time.
While modern technology does offer us a bunch of options - most of the easy ones (satelite phones and iphones) come with a price that we can't afford.

So this is what we are doing. Obviously we won't know how well everything works until we test it out for a while, but I am currently online - several km from the nearest wifi source:

Ham/SSB radio - We have a Pactor modem, which means when we are out of wifi or cell range we can get email over radio waves. It's slow (think early dial-up) but it will do the trick for basic communication. ("I think the answer to that is in the 3rd graf.")

Netbook and cheap cell phone- I really wanted an excuse to buy an iphone. But when I emailed with someone who used his in the South Pacific, and who incurred a massive bill, and then followed up with the NYT tech editor we came to the conclusion a less elegent (and less fun) solution was best. So we have a cheap, unlocked cellphone that we buy SIM cards for in each country. And we have a Skype number with a NYC area code that is forwarded to the cell. Friends call NYC and the call reaches us in Bora Bora. With the netbook we just roam around until we find free or cheap wifi, which we find by using a hotspot detector or we buy wifi aboard.
Super duper antenna- Look up, look way up. The antenna and high-power USB adapter that is clipped on to the lazyjacks is currently picking up a good signal from a harbour about 3 km away.

Which means I am sitting at my desk reading the New York Times and drinking my morning coffee (organic/fairtrade) and pretending I'm still my normal urban self, while fishing boats plow past, seabirds screech and the wind sings in our rigging.

1 comment:

boatbaby said...

forward us your nyc phone number when you have a chance then.