A few Ideas from a Pair of Newbie Liveaboards
Lorraine and I have recently taken delivery
of a new Lagoon 400
S2. We can tell you what worked for us so far re comms and $. Obviously there are lots of other solutions. Most of the stuff you can set up from Oz and, because it can become complex, we recommend doing this. We only partly did this and it was more difficult sorting it out from here.
On $ we tried to do 2 things before we left Oz. Firstly we tried to set up a French Bank Account. This was not successful. I think we could do it now we are here (with some problems about our residential address) but we haven’t bothered because it now does not seem to add a lot of value.
The second thing we did is for both of us to get Travelex
Debit Cards. We loaded the cards up with Euros before we left. These work fine. We have used them for payments in a wide variety of places and have got Euros from ATMs. As far as I know all ATMs are supported, there is no fee and on one day I got a total of 1500 Euros out. I have recharged the card a few time now using BPay transfer from a Westpac account. This incurs a fee of 1%. The exchange rate seemed competitive (0.4% worse than the Westpac rate).
The only downside is when we used the card as a deposit on a car hire. We returned the car, Eurocar made the credit entry but Travelex keeps the money
for a month! What a rip off but forwarned we will make the deposit differently next time.
The only other thing about the money
is to organize your overseas mobile number (see below) to be used for the verification code for Westpac to bank (Oz or overseas) internet
transfers. We used this facility to pay to a French bank account for a large marine
is pretty important to us. We use this for Skype to Skype (hours and hours), Skype to local call (usually short and often to set up a Skype to Skype call) and almost all of our weather forecasts. The key bit of technology here is Bad Boy Extreme and Bad Boy Unleashed which is installed on the boat.
Bad Boy Extreme has a short aerial on the back of the boat and it is a wifi
receiver/amplifier. It takes signals from local wifi
hotspots. There are the local restaurants, chandlers and the local Capitainerie. You just need their password. The La Rochelle Capitainerie gives you this for Euro 6/week.
Bad Boy Unleashed is the second part and takes the signal from Extreme and sends it to a boat wireless router. This means you don’t need wires to your computer and several users can use the facility at the same time.
Lorraine set up paying a small ($10) monthly fee to Skype to support making local calls through Skype. Skype to Skype is free.
SIM cards are the next puzzle to solve. Based on a recommendation from a Vodaphone sales person, we checked out the Woolworth’s Roaming Card. You can buy them from any Woolworths store but the staff there know nothing. They do, however, have a 24 /7 support desk in Ireland
. The cards connect to a local carrier in lots of countries and the rates are a lot less than other rates we were quoted in OZ for roaming cards. This avoids the need to buy new SIM cards in each country.
We bought 2 SIM cards in Woolworths for our mobile phones. Subsequently we bought a nano SIM card from Woolworths online (not available from the stores) for my new ipad
. We have them all set up for internet (Do this before you go because it takes a while). Also you will need to set up the automatic $ top up for the accounts.