Thursday, May 20, 2010

Iridium Woes

Iridium Phone and E-mail

Well jimmy and I are back from our first two deliveries. Both the trip from St Thomas to Norfolk and the one from Fort Lauderdale to New York went nearly perfect. The “Changin’ Tags” trip to Norfolk ended up in Beaufort, NC because of a cold front pushing off the coast keeping us from a trip around the cape. The Marinette delivery from Florida to New York was a race against similar cold fronts but once we pulled ahead of them we managed to stay in front (thanks to the XM weather feature on our Garmin chart plotter.) The only mishap was that on the second day out of Lauderdale I was thrown across the cabin by an obnoxious wave and landed on my laptop… crunch. On the trip to NY my friend Richard came along and it was great to have an extra hand and another guy to laugh with and talk about pretty much everything under the sun. “What do YOU think the world would be like if everyone died a horrible death from a manmade virus?” “How would YOU stop the oil from leaking into all of the worlds oceans?” “If were asked to go to Mars would you say yes?” Yeah those are just a few of the crazy topics that come up when you are alone to long with nothing but ocean to look at and nothing to do but read and listen to music.

It was my intention to blog at least every other day on those deliveries but… well lets have a little chat about Iridium. Iridium is a GREAT thing to have. It is amazing to me that I can call my wife from the middle of an ocean and talk with her like she’s right there. The free instant messages are the BEST! When the phone beeps I jump up and see what it says and it’s like I have been transported for a moment to her side. Just to know that everything is Ok with the family takes a load of worry off a sailors mind. But… the main reason we wanted the phone was to send and receive email. Iridium doesn’t tell you that the software they give you with the phone is USELESS… trust me it is… it is slooooooow and when you are paying $1.50 per minute a 3 minute download of simple emails is ridiculous! Even after that it shows the emails have been sent but they NEVER actually arrive. I sent out 3 or four blogs for Beck to load on this site and she never got one of them. The cost for those useless blogs that never made it almost $25.00.

But I have since found the solution. Ocens is a company that makes an email and weather grib viewer to be used with Sat phones. The first thing they do when they walk you through the installation (yep a real person talks you through it and they don’t even charge you a crazy fee for the help) then they check it all with you and make sure it is functioning properly before they let you go. They even make a sailblogs quick blogger for the sat phone… of course I don’t use sailblogs much anymore… I may have to on long passages now though. The wonderful thing is… in less than 30 seconds I can now send and receive email and it actually makes it to its destination. In my opinion Ocens is the only way to go for offshore email using your Sat phone. Check it out!

Jimmy and Richard and I will be leaving on Sunday to deliver a sailboat from St Thomas to Key West. This boat doesn’t have a dodger or autopilot… I will try again with the blogs now that I can send emails. Hopefully you will get to share with us what is bound to be an interesting delivery.

Once we are under way Rebecca will post the link and number for you to send us free instant messages… we would love to hear from you and I will even try to answer any questions you send us on a following blog. Remember to hit the word SPOT on our blog to follow a link that shows you right where we are as we sail.

God Bless,
Captain Tofer

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