Join Date: Jul 2002
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Rep Power: 15
A couple of tag-ons given the other comments:
1. SSB email is neither a ''web access'' system nor cheap. It''s also not as slow as referenced above. Airmail is free (the ham system), Sailmail is $200/year for approx. 10 min/day access, but both require a SSB (assume an Icom 706 at $1000 w/ tax), most likely an auto-tuner (assume an SGC at $400) and at least a PTC IIe TNC (''modem'') at $600. So it''s a 2BU ($2K U.S.) purchase plus antenna and counterpoise install for up to 1200 baud data rate that provides email capability and, WRT Airmail, wx fax/sat pix/text forecast data. It''s a wonderful system I appreciate immensely and IMO a huge improvement in safety aboard an offshore boat...but it lacks web access and, since the commercial system (Sailmail) has the 10 min/day limitation, is far from what was being asked for.
2. Cell service in the islands is not about ''equipment'' (your laptop, your cell phone, the data rate provided by the shoreside cell) but rather about island-to-island access. The drill is to arrive at the next island (if a different govt''l entity than the last one), take your cell phone to the local govt. or private Telcom office, and have it reregistered for a fee (if it''s compatible at all) before it will work. Just imagine being somewhere in Europe of the 1950''s, with each country doing its own thing, and you get a sense for the govt''l environment among the many island nations of the Caribbean.
3. If I''d heard something well below "3 hrs/day" in usage and the need was mostly for email vs. website access, I''d be more encouraging about an Irridium phone. In Trinidad recently, the local provider was offering a better all-around deal fo the low-time user (phone+access fee+per/min cost) than the TT folks were offering for a regular cell phone. But with much useage and at the current data rates, it''s not adequate for the useage I heard being described.
Some folks who stay in touch with Publishers on a regular basis - one good example of how folks deal with the business world while out cruising - rely on a web-based email address (e.g. Hotmail) and decent shoreside cafe services. If that''s not available, they wait until they move on. (Beth Leonard & Steve Pavlidis are both examples of this). When this doesn''t fit the business need, they may move to a Sat Comm system when necessary, but are VERY careful about who has access to their number and how often they have the system up & running. John Neal (Mahina Services) and a friend of ours who is an occasional ''cruising investment advisor'' choose this approach (when the previous option isn''t timely enough).
It would be great if there were better answers to this puzzle, but folks seem to make it work despite the limited technology in place for now.