Article by Dave Dodgen titled How to Blog on a Sailboat of Florida Yacht Group

How to Blog on a Sailboat

By Dave Dodgen Apr 13, 2015 how-to, budget (6) Comments

My wife and I took a long vacation for 18 months sailing around the Caribbean on our sailboat, “Wildest Dream”.  Here are some of the things we learned along the way.

In our last post, we discussed the selection of the Satellite Telephone with a data modem for sending and receiving emails.  We selected the Iridium 9555 with Smart Modem from Ocens Satellite, Systems and Service from Seattle.  You can check their website here.  Things have changed quickly in this industry and there are newer options available now.  But this was our experience.

The Iridium 9555 is a handheld satellite telephone that can be used anywhere to call any phone in the world.  I used it to call Mom on Mother’s Day from the middle of a crossing!  We had rented Sat Phones for some Bahamas trips it past and had gone cheap.  The results were as expected.  But with the right equipment and the newer satellites the results were very good. 

We purchased blocks of minutes from Ocens to use for either voice or data.  Their packs brought the cost per minute to about $1.25 so you would not use it for extended calls or where local cell phone service is available.  But that is the subject of another of our hints. 

The modem install was at the nav station where we could connect directly to a laptop.  This was our login to the satellite to upload and download email.  Very similar to the old AOL dial up service we all remember.  So we would write emails and set them up for delivery.  Then we would login through the laptop and the sat phone would dial automatically.  Typically it would take about 3-5 minutes to upload and download so the cost was about $5 each time we used the system.  Ocens would hold the emails until we could download them.  And we set the maximum size of the email so we could control the time needed for the downloads.  Since the email address was new, we did not get a lot of spam and that also helped to keep the cost in control.

Part of the other service that Ocens offered was weather forecasts and GRIB files to show weather in a particular area.  There was an extra $1-3 charge for the file but sometimes they were the only access to weather that we could get and the extra cost became moot. 

We also used the Ocens service to upload text to our blog.  The service connected directly to the blog site we had selected, so that when we were in remote sites we could still keep our blog updated.  Pictures were impossible to upload but the text was easy.

So all in all, we were very happy with the choice of phone, service and cost.  We connected this with a wifi antenna and network on the boat which we will discuss it the next newsletter.

And stay tuned for more info on things we found handy on our trip!  And let us know if you have any questions.

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About the author

Hailing from Dallas, Texas, David Dodgen and his wife, Gail, have been documenting their travels aboard since 2013, adventuring to countries including Guatemala, Belize, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.

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