I loved our Nobeltec software
during our 14 years and over 60,000 n.m. of full-time cruising. But I'll modify that with a little story.
About ten years ago we were on a long passage
to the Rio Dulce, Guatemala
. After several days at sea we had reached the north coast of Honduras
and were heading west. Things were going well. I had our charting software
humming and we were making good time.
I stood the night watches. I had turned our laptop
computer off to conserve power. About 0400 in the dark of an imminent dawn, I turned on the laptop
and booted up into Windows XP. What I saw was a message from Microsoft stating that my copy of Windows needed to be authenticated within a couple of days or it would quit working. All I had to do was connect to Microsoft via the internet
, validate my copy of Windows, and I would then be able to use my navigation
software. Great; we were probably 20 miles offshore
. How was I going to do that?
Probably the most valuable trait a cruiser can have is the ability to improvise when faced with unique challenges. I knew that we were not far from the island of Roatan. I altered course slightly and headed toward the south coast of the island. About 0700 we were closing on the island. I steered as close As I could and mounted our 15db omni-directional wifi antenna
to a stanchion. Fortunately the computer would still work (for a short time). As we sailed past French Harbor, it didn't take me long to find an unsecured wifi
site on the coast and, within a few minutes, had managed to validate my copy of Windows.
We always carried paper charts of the areas we visited and found them quite useful on several occasions. We made it to the Rio Dulce and used our charting software with no problems. So, what did I learn from this experience?
(1) I learned that our huge number of paper charts were a valuable resource when the computer fails for any reason. In fact, they could save your life in certain kinds of situation.
(2) While in Rio Dulce, I installed LInux
on my computer in a dual boot configuration with my Windows XP. If Windows was going to throttle my computer and keep me from accessing our cruising software, I wanted to be able to boot up Linux
in order to still be able to use our wifi and other software. I've never looked back and still hold a deep resentment towards Microsoft and its domineering attitude to managing personal computers
. FYI, our copy of Windows XP on the laptop was a legal
, fully paid-for, installation, not a pirated version.
Another related question: what would you do if your GPS failed? Do you know how to use a sextant
and reduction tables. Actually, I wonder how many cruisers today even own a sextant
? More troubling, I wonder how many new cruisers nowadays even know what a sextant is??