Thursday, January 21, 2010

Internet connection and some thoughts on living at the slip ...

Now, if you're a cruiser, you know this shit.  You get one of Engenius's little EUB-362 EXT High-Power Long Range Wireless G USB Adapter.  This is what I did a couple of years ago.  It worked in Annapolis, Maryland, sort of in Alameda, California, and a bit along the ICW down through North Carolina.  Yet, all the while, I usually had to take out a subscription for a day, week or longer to hook into a site from the boat.

Now that might be just fine with you.  It was for me, for a while, but when I got to the Abacos in the Bahamas, I discovered that the only provider with which I could subscribe had just decided to upgrade all their tranmission sites, and the EUB-362 was obsolete.  

Don't you just love fucking technology?!?!  Obsolete!  Damn, spit!!  I sucked it up and bought the "new" Engenius ethernet wifi external antenna product, the Engenius 3220!  It seemed the ideal set-up, so I spent an inordinate amount of money (but, what the hell, everybody knows that boat owners have more money than God!) and let this lovely little internet provider in Marsh Harbor provide me with the unit.  I suppose I should have been a bit suspect when the "technical" guru of the business Out Island Information ( had a tough time figuring out how to hook it up on a Windows Vista OS.  I gave him a break ... Vista is for shit anyway, so why not.  And, what the hell, it worked ... until my hard disc crashed and I lost the set up information.

Now, I don't pretend to know much IT stuff.  I have a hard time following the instructions provided by even the most literate of the technical writers (not many of them out there, I fear), but trying to restore this Engenius set-up when I got my hard disc fixed up was not even close to the simplicity of restoring all the other programs and stuff I'd lost.  I fussed with it, had multiple conversations with Engenius techs, and the most I discovered was that 1) the 3220 was fucking obsolete and had been mothballed by the company, and 2) the techs who tried to tell me what to do didn't speak English ... or at least any version I'd ever heard.
So, what the hell.  Another $500 down the proverbial hole.  I've got more money than God, don't I?  I must!  I own a fucking boat!  On a boat ... I'm on a motherfucking boat!  (Are you young enough to catch that?)

Okay, assuming I haven't put you off with any of Henry Miller's nasty language (how dated is that, or am I just dating myself?), I decided to check out yet another system.  My buddy G.W., who just sailed over to the Bahamas, mentioned his new internet antenna was spot on, so I asked him what it was and decided, even though he is a rabid libertarian (which in this world means Republican), and it would be another couple of hundred, I can live with the opposite political view and it might just be worth a try. 

I ordered it, it arrived five days later (California to Florida), I got a rail mount for it, and lo-and-behold, it is actually working brilliantly in this god-forsaken slip in Halifax Harbor Marina, Daytona Beach.  I am writing this and being very, very connected (in an internet sort of way) at this very moment.

So let me suggest: Radio Labs wifi antenna!  It is, for the moment, the most user-friendly, the easiest and perhaps the best wifi connection solution out there.  (If you read this down at Radio Labs, please credit my card with a nice rebate!)  I believe their boast of 5-6 mile pick up under the most arduous conditions is spot on.  Of course, the way the damned technology changes, it may be outdated in a year, but this is it for now, my sailing friends. 

*    *    *
Cruising is the good thing.  Living at the slip can be a bit strenuous ... well, perhaps trying is the better word.  We've been at the slip in Daytona Beach for almost a month.  We went through a bit of a transition from land life, and then we settled in.  Yet, even after settling in, the space becomes a bit tight after a while.  During the "snowy" period (yes, this is central Florida), we hardly wanted to leave the boat.

Gradually, as the temperatures rose, we slipped out into the cockpit or undertook an adventure to the shore for groceries, a movie, a meal with friends.Then the warm weather appeared.  Ah ha!  We actually have gotten out a bit.  Picking up a few things here and there at the local marine shops ... cleaning materials for fiberglass and stainless, new preventer lines for the mainsail, and any other number of little things.

Unfortunately, a night ago, at a wonderful dinner of chicken wings and a myriad of other Chinese dishes, one of my molars snapped into several pieces.  Thankfully, Pen has a good dentist, I got in to see her right away and, now with a temporary crown, I'll soon have a permanent one ... it only delays our departure by about four or five days, so thankfully "slip life" will soon be over.  At the same time, it gives just enough time for the cruising chute to be finalized for the trip ... thank you Spindrift for donating one of those unused spinnakers.


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