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What’s Next?

30 Dec

If you are familiar with cruisers, you know that our plans change as frequently as tidal pools or blobs in a lava lamp. We may seem like we cannot make up our minds, but we are always getting influenced by weather, updated info/intel, and learning from other cruisers. Okay, so there is a little mood thrown in there too.

We decided about a month ago to make our excursion to the Exumas a holiday vacation and to not push on to points south. The main reason is that finding telecommute worthy internet is just more work than we feel like continuing to do. We suck, I know. It can be done, but it was starting to feel like a full time job – consuming too much thought, wallet, and discussion.

But, there are so many cool watery places to explore in the Keys, and we all voted unanimously to head back to Florida…so there. 🙂

Today we are sailing (well mostly motoring as the winds are too light) back to Nassau. We will spend New Year’s here and enjoy the end of Junkanoo. Not familiar with Junkanoo? Well, stay tuned and we will share more.

Next push will be back to Miami. Looks like Thursday might be a good weather day, but we will see. You know how those plans go!

Why yes, I am MacGyver

4 Dec

I have a mifi device with a Batelco SIM (this is Robin, by the way). Great internet until yesterday, when it kept telling me that there was no SIM card. This is my work backup, so it’s kind of important. Grrrr…

Looking inside, I realized that one of the connector pins broke. Something that could be Ebay repairable, but out here where there are barely stores and clean water, chances are if you can’t fix it, it stays broken.

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SIM connector bed...if you look really, really close you can see it

After some google detective work, I learned that some copper wire pinned under the connector might do the trick. Cool…but apparently in all our spare wire aboard we don’t have anything with copper. Really?

Fortunately, Hans the marina manager (and yes, he is German) found me some. He wandered over to a construction project and clipped a few inches off a new plug’s ground wire. I pounded it down with a hammer into a thin bar like strip, snipped it into teeny tiny little bar segments and embedded them into the connector bed.

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Copper bits

Viola…working mifi internet!! Yes, I am still gloating.

Last minute electronics

27 Oct

In researching the ICW, we knew there were going to be quite a few dead cell phone zones, and since this boat is also our floating office, we need to increase its cell phone range. We ended up installing a Wilson booster system (something tested out by Panbo), and we’ve found that it works really well! It’s increased the cell signal by two or three bars, and that’s just in the marina.

Unfortunately, this meant that someone needed to hang at the spreader line running cables in the mast from the base to the antenna, which we’ve hung upside down on the port spreader. Since I (Robin) am lighter, and the bosuns chair doesn’t bother my back I was the obvious choice. Weather had just started turning chilly, so it was a fun few red-nosed hours. Best part was watching all our lovely neighbors walk by (multiple times) as they tried to figure out what we were doing and how they could help make it easier on us.

It should have gone more quickly, but the cable wouldn’t run correctly down the track…it kept getting hung up on something about two feet short of the track outlet. SO we had to run it up the mast with a guide string, and the hole at the spreader line in the mast was a very tight and fiddly fit. Some good old fashioned stubbornnes (thanks Dad!), bruised knees, and it was finally all set. Robin only dropped one wrench in the harbor, which is a feat with such cold fingers (to say nothing of the standard Robin clumsiness).

Robin just hanging out

Robin…just hanging out (and yes there is a second safety line tied on)

Thank you too, to Shep for the great lunch, pictures, and wonderful goodbyes. D-day is getting closer!

Staying connected.

30 Apr

Being that Robin and I both live and work on Tango (and when we head out for the big trip the girls will be home/boat schooled), staying connected to the internet is a huge deal.  Here are two of the devices that we use to stay connected.

The “Wirie” Wifi Access Point

This piece of equipment is truly a gift from the internet gods. It has a wicked antenna that can pick up wifi signals from long distances. (Apparently several miles if one is within line of sight. I’m skeptical of this claim but we will test that out soon enough.) Once we have a good wifi hotspot the Wirie will connect and then we can link our devices to the Wirie to access the internet. Within our marina it has performed admirably. The broadcasting repeater is about 1/2 a mile away and our signal is strong enough to be able to download files, connect to our work networks, play games on the PS3 and stream movies via Netflix and Amazon. Once we “take off” we will try and find harbors to duck into where wifi is avalable. Reading the blogs of some other cruisers down in the Caribbean this is not too much of a challenge. Most hotels and resorts offer wifi. (Although apparently sometimes you have to bribe the owners with alcohol to get the network passwords.)

Our REAL life preserver. The Wirie Access Point

Verizon AC30 3G Mobile Hotspot

To be honest, we really don’t use this device all that much when we are docked and the Wirie is doing its thing. However, when we are out cruising this thing really works well. We have been able to maintain signal even when we are in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay. I have perused the international coverage map for Verizon and we should be fine in the Caribbean as well. Granted we will have to pay through the nose to be able to stay connected but, since our jobs require connectivity, it is just a cost of doing business.

Verizon AC30 3G Access Point

Expensive but the coverage is pretty good. (at least it is on the map)

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Andy’s home office

11 Sep

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