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Old 09-05-2014, 12:52   #31
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Re: Hello World from a family of dreamers

You should definitely take a cheapy little wifi repeater. Even in marinas that "have wifi", you won't have a good signal, if any, in the slip. A few people we've met who have solved this stick the repeater in the dock box, or on the boat with a good external antenna and/or amplifier. Probably your only chance at anchor, unless you tether through your cell or get a data plan through the satellite. (Check out SeaRoam for cell.)
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Old 09-05-2014, 12:56   #32
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Re: Hello World from a family of dreamers

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Originally Posted by selkirksghost View Post
You should definitely take a cheapy little wifi repeater. Even in marinas that "have wifi", you won't have a good signal, if any, in the slip. A few people we've met who have solved this stick the repeater in the dock box, or on the boat with a good external antenna and/or amplifier. Probably your only chance at anchor, unless you tether through your cell or get a data plan through the satellite. (Check out SeaRoam for cell.)
GTIK, cell or sat are out of the budget expensive. Directional high gain Wifi antennas are easily had. So really just trying to get a location nailed down not what possibilities exist for mobile Internet.
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Old 09-05-2014, 13:14   #33
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Re: Hello World from a family of dreamers

As with "chuckr" and others, a big fan of SSB. However, opted for sat phone during offshore for ease of use. I use SSB at work. My wife and kids would look at it and cock their heads and say, "What is propagation again?" There are great services out there that compliment MF/HF, but there is a reason we have radio officers on the ship.
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Old 09-05-2014, 13:22   #34
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Re: Hello World from a family of dreamers

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GTIK, cell or sat are out of the budget expensive. Directional high gain Wifi antennas are easily had. So really just trying to get a location nailed down not what possibilities exist for mobile Internet.

Okay. I haven't been everywhere, and usually tether the cell with a local sim card or take the computer ashore. Have you checked out "activecaptain.com"? They have marina specific information like that that is fairly recent. You might find yourself leading the way with the information you find.
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Old 09-05-2014, 13:54   #35
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Re: Hello World from a Family of Dreamers

Intrigued by the comment that both your girls are "mosquito magnets"

I was the designated magnet in our family, and although I've always been fine at sea in tropical latitudes, even as an adult I have rather a short 'use-by date' period on land.

I don't think I'd be here if my childhood had involved long periods ashore in the tropics.

I invariably end up with blood poisoning, and even if I don't get bitten, the heat on shore is something I just never get OK with.

Not saying that you'll have problems, just mentioning it as an interesting possibility for parents to be vaguely aware of.
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Old 09-05-2014, 14:21   #36
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Re: Hello World from a family of dreamers

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Originally Posted by selkirksghost View Post
As with "chuckr" and others, a big fan of SSB. However, opted for sat phone during offshore for ease of use. I use SSB at work. My wife and kids would look at it and cock their heads and say, "What is propagation again?" There are great services out there that compliment MF/HF, but there is a reason we have radio officers on the ship.
There is a good reason we had radio officers on board.

But otherwise I'm with you, HF SSB is used a lot when I'm on board, plus for cruising with buddy boats on a passage it is very easy to stay in touch no matter the spacing.
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Old 09-05-2014, 17:43   #37
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Re: Hello World from a family of dreamers

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There is a good reason we had radio officers on board.

But otherwise I'm with you, HF SSB is used a lot when I'm on board, plus for cruising with buddy boats on a passage it is very easy to stay in touch no matter the spacing.
Right, SSB, Sat Phone even Satellite Internet are available. But as I looked it's thousands of dollars just to get one in hand. Then install it...then subscribe to a service...I've seen those posts. What is good to know, and I'm thankful to see them, are the posts of low cost solutions like Wifi or cellular. I am pretty certain in 2014 we will not be leaving the Caribbean. 2015 brings hopefully new possibilities and maybe by then I will have found a way to make money while on the boat and have a budget again.

I did see a suggestion of a Wifi Repeater. Well intentioned I'm sure but not at all what I was asking. I will be at anchor (in my requirements) and not anywhere near a dock lockbox. If you know a signal exists a directional high-gain 2.4gHz antenna or even a very directional Yagi type will be the best money spent I would imagine. I even know of and have 700mHz directional antennas and boosters that work for LTE signals (cellular).

Just without knowing what direction to point (obviously towards land ;] ) ... it helps me to look at a chart and pick an anchoring point in a location likely to have a usable signal. For sure if you are near me we will all be well connected if there is a signal for me to get and share.

Granted when doing blue water crossings I will have to cross that bridge when I get there. Is there some sort of Open Source SSB gear out there? Free Internet for people with SSB? If not let's make it. Make an Intranet of all our boats that then at one or several points ties to the Internet. Mesh networked. Ok, I'll stop there don't want to get off on another tangent here.
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Old 10-05-2014, 00:26   #38
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Re: Hello World from a Family of Dreamers

David, Welcome to CF. I am in Antelope, just out of Sacramento. I also have a 7 year old who is a Minecraft fanatic. I can pm you with his username on MC if your girls would be interested in seeing him on minecraft. He usually plays it on xbox360 or his lap top. The very best to you and your family as you start your fantastic adventure. I am hopefully going to splash in August, but any little set back and it could be 2015. Good luck. Ravin
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Old 10-05-2014, 10:04   #39
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Re: Hello World from a Family of Dreamers

@chuckr/selkirksghost ... As I read more, and more, I see now more reasons why if you are away from short more than a few miles or for very long SSB will start to become the best tool for the job.

My mind was focused on being at anchor or near land as the plan is to thoroughly test us and the boat near shore until we know the boat and ourselves well enough to plan for something more risky.

I have purchased a hard-copy of: Icom IC - M802 Made Simple for Cruisers: Hand Book for Starting the Dream

I can read it before and make more intelligent choices for what I need then. Meaning I concede if we are headed out to sea (we are eventually) I will want SSB and a Ham Operators Lic and be connected to the weather, other cruisers, email and all the other good uses it brings

@All: Thank you for your best wishes, welcomes, information and advice. Much appreciated. Still moving along on the sale.
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Old 10-05-2014, 10:49   #40
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Re: Hello World from a Family of Dreamers

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Originally Posted by onefastdaddy View Post
@chuckr/selkirksghost ... As I read more, and more, I see now more reasons why if you are away from short more than a few miles or for very long SSB will start to become the best tool for the job.

My mind was focused on being at anchor or near land as the plan is to thoroughly test us and the boat near shore until we know the boat and ourselves well enough to plan for something more risky.

I have purchased a hard-copy of: Icom IC - M802 Made Simple for Cruisers: Hand Book for Starting the Dream

I can read it before and make more intelligent choices for what I need then. Meaning I concede if we are headed out to sea (we are eventually) I will want SSB and a Ham Operators Lic and be connected to the weather, other cruisers, email and all the other good uses it brings

@All: Thank you for your best wishes, welcomes, information and advice. Much appreciated. Still moving along on the sale.
My first time cruising was way before the Internet or GPS, my HAM radio was my link. Back then a larger percentage of cruisers had HAM, and that is how we set up to meet each other in a common anchorage. From what I see HAM isn't as popular now as it was then since we have Internet (when in range) and Sat phones, but I will still have HAM just because I enjoy it.
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Old 10-05-2014, 13:33   #41
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Re: Hello World from a Family of Dreamers

Aloha and welcome aboard!
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Old 19-05-2014, 01:02   #42
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Re: Hello World from a Family of Dreamers

[QUOTE=onefastdaddy;1537841]@chuckr/selkirksghost ... As I read more, and more, I see now more reasons why if you are away from short more than a few miles or for very long SSB will start to become the best tool for the job.

My mind was focused on being at anchor or near land as the plan is to thoroughly test us and the boat near shore until we know the boat and ourselves well enough to plan for something more risky.

I have purchased a hard-copy of: Icom IC - M802 Made Simple for Cruisers: Hand Book for Starting the Dream

I can read it before and make more intelligent choices for what I need then. Meaning I concede if we are headed out to sea (we are eventually) I will want SSB and a Ham Operators Lic and be connected to the weather, other cruisers, email and all the other good uses it brings


you can get free email if you get your ham license and you no longer need morse code to get it -- i was one of the first not required for the morse test and my guess you are smarter than the average bear so should be a breeze for you --
there are still several nets out there for ssb - mostly in the western carib -
as for wifi -- well sometimes you get a signal in the eastern carib and sometimes not regardless of equipment --
for the first time we got a dongle and love it but it is only good in italy and fortunately we are going to spend only a week or so outside italy for the next couple of months - then not sure what we will do in albania and croatia and glad we have ssb on board for our wx just in case we can not get wifi

good luck with your choices

oh -- as for hurricane season -- with the girls i would suggest grenada first and if something pops up head across to trinidad -- trinidad may be a bit rough for the girls --
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Old 20-05-2014, 01:00   #43
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Re: Hello World from a Family of Dreamers

[QUOTE=chuckr;1544436]
Quote:
Originally Posted by onefastdaddy View Post
@chuckr/selkirksghost ... As I read more, and more, I see now more reasons why if you are away from short more than a few miles or for very long SSB will start to become the best tool for the job.

My mind was focused on being at anchor or near land as the plan is to thoroughly test us and the boat near shore until we know the boat and ourselves well enough to plan for something more risky.

I have purchased a hard-copy of: Icom IC - M802 Made Simple for Cruisers: Hand Book for Starting the Dream

I can read it before and make more intelligent choices for what I need then. Meaning I concede if we are headed out to sea (we are eventually) I will want SSB and a Ham Operators Lic and be connected to the weather, other cruisers, email and all the other good uses it brings


you can get free email if you get your ham license and you no longer need morse code to get it -- i was one of the first not required for the morse test and my guess you are smarter than the average bear so should be a breeze for you --
there are still several nets out there for ssb - mostly in the western carib -
as for wifi -- well sometimes you get a signal in the eastern carib and sometimes not regardless of equipment --
for the first time we got a dongle and love it but it is only good in italy and fortunately we are going to spend only a week or so outside italy for the next couple of months - then not sure what we will do in albania and croatia and glad we have ssb on board for our wx just in case we can not get wifi

good luck with your choices

oh -- as for hurricane season -- with the girls i would suggest grenada first and if something pops up head across to trinidad -- trinidad may be a bit rough for the girls --
Thanks chuckr,
The more I read the more I learn. Thanks for the good advice.
I read a good portion of the book, even went online and took some practice tests for HAM Technical license. Reminded me of studying for the FAA practical exam. Sadly searching turned up no results for Northern Calif for testing locations. I'll keep looking. I'll go ahead and get at least the technical one even if I don't get SSB right away. Can't be over prepared in my mind.
I like free...free eMail even better. I did read that today somewhere else. Nice.
Well, survey turned up stuff that seems like it would take time to correct. Putting us deeper in July for closing (if we don't just fail the boat now). Also wife is not thrilled with what she's seen so far of St. Martin on the trip to Oyster Pond. Being there with little kids trying to get things repaired etc just seems now to be a real challenge and no fun for anyone.

Then again things in life worth doing are hard. This must really be worth doing then...
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Old 20-05-2014, 12:00   #44
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Re: Hello World from a Family of Dreamers

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Also wife is not thrilled with what she's seen so far of St. Martin on the trip to Oyster Pond. Being there with little kids trying to get things repaired etc just seems now to be a real challenge and no fun for anyone.

Then again things in life worth doing are hard. This must really be worth doing then...
We also had this problem -- flying in with two kids and a boat on the hard that needed about five weeks of work before she was ready to go in the water.

Our parents made it a whole lot easier. Mine came for the first four weeks, and my wife's parents came for the next two weeks. They played with the kids in the hotel pool all day while my wife and I went to the yard and worked.

It was more fun for everyone. My wife and I like working on boat projects together, the kids were spoiled by their grandparents, and the grandparents were happy to play with the kids and vacation in the Caribbean.

I sometimes also see one parent fly in and try to wrap up projects. But they always take longer than you expect. So it's a bit sad to be split up.

Another option is to stay working in America and have someone here project manage. It's expensive -- I've heard of flat +10% pricing, and in South Africa I think we paid $50/hour for a project manager. This turned out to be about 1/2 to 1 hour a day, for her to check on things and keep the project moving forward, as we had the teak decks and the engine replaced. But it can be economical in certain situations, if you can keep working and life in America is less expensive than renting an apartment or house in a foreign city. I've not had good luck with yards or most contractors project managing themselves.

I think St Maarten is a great place to start. There are so many go-go-go people here who do things. It's super easy to get stuff from America here. We started in Grenada, and it worked out pretty well, but, when you are living in a hotel with a boat on the hard, sometimes 'island time' feels like lazy and disorganized. And it's not as competitive there, so instead of 'fast, cheap, and high quality -- pick any two', in a few instances we had no choice but to work with folks who deliver slow, expensive, garbage.

Anyways, however hard the first month or two or three or four are, it's certainly worth it. Have fun!
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Old 20-05-2014, 14:16   #45
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Re: Hello World from a Family of Dreamers

Great job to all of you. Many people have risked divorce to make it onboard, and you managed to bring the whole family.

Here are few basic tech ideas:

1) Marina WiFi is not always available and is often abused. Also, you might find yourself at anchor or in mooring fields in many destinations. I highly recommend an AT&T hotspot. I suggest AT&T because of their huge range of service areas. If you're going to be outside the US, then you should research this further - you might need to buy an unlocked hotspot - in any case, you should definitely go with a GSM provider. T-Mobile has a more flexible plan, which you can upgrade or downgrade at any time- even during the service month - and does not require a contract, though their coverage is not quite as good as AT&T.
I've had my best hotspot service from an AT&T iPhone, outperforming the T-mobile dedicated hotspot by a wide margin

2) Go to Amazon cloud and setup at least one free EC2 instance. You can use Remote Desktop to access it (RDP). This has many benefits compared to trying to work on a local laptop across a tenuous connection - one is that your application connections remains persistent even when your local connection drops. Also, you can set one up as a Minecraft server (unless Amazon has blocked this, which I would guess they might have)

3) If you need to use VPN, contact me back. I have some additional suggestions around this

4) Purchase an HDMI connector for your phone if you have unlimited data service so you can watch TV shows from Hulu and Netflix on the big screen. For the iPhone, it's $50.00 from BestBuy, and you won't have to use your hotspot data which would quickly get eaten up by streaming video.
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