Marine internet, a connected year on the water

9 Apr

Diagram of boat, router and internet connections

My family and I just spent a year on the water.  When we left, some members of our crew were hesitant about the whole idea, so I knew we needed as many comforts of home as possible.  High on that list was an always-on (almost), always-available (almost) internet connection.  It turns out this isn’t a simple or one-size-fits-all issue.  It’s also something I’m most frequently asked about.  What follows is a primer on marine internet and the start of an article series about the myriad tech options to keep your boat connected.

There are three basic ways to get internet ...

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How to be the one they leave behind.

9 Apr

Hey virtual voyagers!

First, thanks to all the people who’ve reached out about Randall’s news to check in and see if I’m ok with the decision to basically extend the project by a whole extra year. I’m 100% in support of the plan. And for those of you who know me well, you know that I make the best of the situation when Randall is out at sea. Don’t tell Randall! 🙂

Second, a while back I asked the Figure 8 Facebook community if I should speak at the upcoming West Coast Boat show about what it’s like to be the ...

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St Andrews Sound. STM 689

9 Apr

St. Andrews Sound.  This sound is to be respected.  It is often rolly with swells coming in off the ocean. When there is a strong east wind and outgoing current, it is not unusual to see 4 foot waves at times.  If the conditions are poor on your northbound leg, stay an extra day at Fernandina Beach or Cumberland Island.  If southbound spend a day or two at Jekyll Harbor Marina and let the conditions improve.  Jekyll Island is  beautiful.  It is easy to bike and explore.  The marina has a golf cart for transients to borrow.   CAUTION: R30 and ...

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New Panbo Forum launched

9 Apr

We’ve launched a new Panbo Forum today.  It uses the same user membership as the new Panbo website, so if you’ve joined as a member since the migration to the new website you’re all set to post on the new forum.  You can get to the new forum using the forum link in the toolbar at the top of each page.

We will also keep the old forum around read-only so that all discussions will remain available.  If you’re wanting to continue a conversation started in the old forum you can start a new topic in the new forum and ...

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Jacksonville St. Johns River Crossing STM 741

9 Apr

We crossed the St. Johns River northbound in mid March. This area at the north end of Pablo Creek, where it meets the St. Johns River, was dredged and re buoyed in 2016.  Here again, some the buoys are not correctly shown on the latest updated charts NOAA 11491 (2/03/2018) making this section confusing.  The buoys are in the same locations we saw them in early February and for both transits through here we just followed the USCG ATONs.  G1 and R2 are correct as are R8 and G9.  However, R6 is no longer there and several other buoys have ...

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Lockwoods Folly Inlet Crossing STM 320

9 Apr

The good news here is that although the channel shifted after the 2017 hurricanes, the water is deep!   The bad news here is that G47A and G47 are both missing.  If you have updated your charts their expected location will be found on the chart. If you drive your boat through here following the aids to navigation as shown on the charts you will see water depths greater than 10 feet all the way through here.  When you get over near R36 be prepared to experience cross setting current!...

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What Comes Next for the Figure 8?

8 Apr

April 8, 2018

Hobart, Tasmania

I raced those last few weeks to Hobart so as to arrive in time to see my wife, whose inflexible schedule required that we meet-up at the end March or not at all. During her brief stay here, “what now?” was a major topic of our conversation.

Below is the result and then the rationale for our decision.

The New Plan

Mo and I will depart for San Francisco non-stop in mid-April and should sail under the Golden Gate Bridge as early as middle June.

I then plan to begin the Figure 8 route all ...

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SureCall Fusion2Go 2.0 cell booster, the testing begins

7 Apr

This is the selection of SureCall Fusion2Go cellular booster system components I’ll lug to the boat in North Carolina early Monday morning. The white outdoor antenna should mount fairly easily on Gizmo’s mast, the booster itself will tuck behind the lower helm with switchable 12v power, and I’ll put my phone on that indoor patch antenna when boosting is needed. In fact, I tried roughly that configuration in my basement shop yesterday, and the results were quite promising.

Note the signal strength graph in the Network Signal Info app running on my Google Pixel 2 XL Android phone. Without boost ...

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It’s 406 EPIRB Day!

6 Apr

After my post about EPIRB registration I got a very nice note from NOAA announcing that it’s #406DAY18 (that’s the Twitter moniker).

I had no idea, but it turns out false alarms are an epidemic:

“Last year we had over 5,000 false alerts from EPIRBs in the United States. The majority of those were from people conducting self tests of their beacons incorrectly. Search and Rescue (SAR) personnel begin responding immediately to every activation of a 406 MHz SARSAT beacon. That response will only stop when it has been proven that the activation was a false alert. The simplest and ...

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Northbound to Mexico: lessons from the country-per-day plan

5 Apr

birds on the bow at sunset

The Pacific side of Panama felt palpably different even before the channel markers switched near the continental divide, green buoys replacing red on Totem’s starboard side. It was partly an earthy smell of the hot wind blowing through the Gaillard cut. A changed quality in the light, maybe, on the far side of sawtooth mountains catching tradewind-blown clouds from the Caribbean. The temperature cooled along with the water, and large swells slowly lifting Totem on the exit from Mirabella confirmed her homecoming to the Pacific.

Jamie and I booked flights from Puerto Vallarta to the Annapolis boat show later in ...

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