Monday, November 09, 2009

Summer Sailing

As I was cleaning up my office today, I found these photos that someone sent to me this summer. We were sailing from Inati Bay to Bellingham. I think Steve H. took these photos. Thanks, I don’t actually have too many photos of me under sail.

Pre Game Time for the BVIs

For the past couple of weeks several of us have been preparing to move a boat from Tortola to Cape Canaveral. This boat was purchased by a friend of mine about a month ago and we are going to try and bring it back up to the Pacific Northwest via Florida (and stick it on a truck). Planing this event remotely has been kind of a bitch compounded by the fact that each of the four crew live at least on hours drive away from each other. To make things easier, we have been using Google Sites to coordinate all of our trip information - from meal planning to emergency contact information, it is all there.
My task has been setting the communications to the external world so that all of our friends and family can stay in touch.

The first trick is to figure out the medium to get all of those pesky ones and zero from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to the internet. There are several solutions available, but for us it came down to a Satellite phone or using a Single Side Band (SSB) radio for email. The satellite phone has the advantage that it is easy to set up, you can call people on it, and you can send SMS (text) messages with it. The downside is that it is slow (2400kb) and relatively expensive (~1$/minute - 1$/15k). The SSB, on the other hand, is cheap and already installed on the boat. The disadvantage is that is is even slower (500b), complex to operate, and may not even work on this boat.

Because of the time constraints, we decided on using the satellite phone. I can get this solution working at home, with all of the benefits of the internet. The other good thing about this solution is that it gave us SMS messaging. This allows us to easily post updates to ... twitter. For about seventy cents we can text a message to twitter and easily send status update information to friends and family. Heck you can follow us right now at:

The second way we are going to push location data out to a server called yotreps. This service was set up to help weather forecasters get a better picture of local sea conditions using boats as mobile weather bouy. You can access yotreps and our boat Indigo here and via google maps at shiptrack. The way yotrpes works is that you send them a rather cryptic email with your local conditions in it. Here is a sample entry.


| BOAT | WIND | SWELL | | | |
No| CALL |TIME| POSITION |Cse|Spd| | |Cld|Bar |tend|
| | UTC| Lat. Lng. | °T|Kts|Dir|Kts|Dir| Ht| % | hPa| |
1|WDAL7LO |2215|18 26 N 64 37 W|230|0.0| NE| 3| N|0.0| 30|1011| +|

Waiting for BJ to Buy Me