Baggywrinkle

Previous Logs

June 10th 2002
A Different Passage

May 20th 2002
Climbing Saba Rock

May 18th 2002
Incident At Piney Beach

May 15th 2002
A Wreck In Antigua

May 11th 2002
Bicycle Origami

May 2nd 2002
A Taste Of Dominica

April 27th 2002
Living In Les Saintes

March 15th 2002
Living Under A Volcano

March 5th 2002
A Change of Direction

February 28th 2002
Toucan Tango

February 25th, 2002
A Leper Never Changes His Spots....

February 21th, 2002
Carnival is Bacchanal

February 4, 2002
Rescue at Sea

December 12, 2001
Even At Sea

December 6, 2001
Underway

November 27, 2001
Waterway Journey

November 23, 2001
Always a Few More Chores

November 13, 2001
On Air

October 14, 2001
The List Grows Longer

On Air - November 13, 2001

The morning of the test I found myself laying in bed, still half asleep muttering to myself… dah dit dah, dah dah dit. The Morse Code I have been studying for the past month was finally seeping into my unconscious mind. It was now time to get the test out of the way. Not only because my incessant beeps and blips were driving my friends and family batty, but also because we are departing in just a few days and in order to e-mail from the boat I need the Ham certification.

E-mail on the boat seems strangely misplaced in some ways. A large part of what is appealing to me about cruising is escaping from the TV, the computer, cells phones and more. Cruising is about being self sufficient. If the diesel breaks down I can rip it apart and at least attempt to fix it. If the computer goes out I can open the case and stare at the integrated circuits, but beyond that I’m useless. But, I have caved on the e-mail because it is such a cost effective (free) and efficient means of communication.

People are always impressed that there is a way to e-mail from the middle of the ocean, as well they should be. It is an imperfect and somewhat slow system, but the benefits far outweigh the problems. And while my understanding of it all is still minimal the idea is quite simple. On the boat I have a ham radio connected to an antenna (the backstay); a laptop running e-mail software; and a modem (called a TNC) that connects the computer and radio. When I want to send a message I use the radio to connect to a remote ham station (there are a number of ham stations located around the world which have volunteered to serve as conduits between radio messages and the internet). Once connected the message is sent through the modem to the radio and through the antenna out into the ether as radio waves. Collected on the other end by the remote ham station these waves are converted back into a message and then directed onto the internet, reaching their destination hopefully in just a few minutes.

So now that I’ve mastered the art of Morse Code I’m ready to hit the air…

73 to you all.

Ben Shaw