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January 13, 2008

Going Sailing

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Going be in the Sea of Cortez where cell coverage is rumored to be sparse. Can’t quite go cold turkey on communications so I rented an Iridium satellite phone that should work almost everywhere outside. DIDN’T get the data attachment, though. Too slow and too expensive so I’m gonna have to live offline – scary.

Even a phone needs peripherals. Pictured above are an AC charger, a DC (cigarette lighter) charger, a remote mounted antenna so we can talk from below decks, an extra battery, a carrying case for all of this, and a soft folding solar charger. Of course should be able to charge from DC on the boat but always need a plan B. Besides, running down the batteries on a sailboat gets me nervous and running the engine seems contrary.

The solar charger puts out .6 amps at 15.4 volts so should be able to charge any cell phones that do work, cameras, iPods etc. assuming we have DC adapters for them. Don’t think there’s enough amps here for my PC and I’m pretty sure it won’t be able to drive the inverter I use for devices that we don’t have DC adapters for (will try, though).

Sat phone is NOT a low cost way to communicate. The phone itself is only $24.95/week to rent but airtime minutes (in and out) are $1.59 each even in prepaid nonrefundable bundles of sixty. Voice mail is extra. People can call you for a cost of a call to Arizona (cost to them – you’re still going to pay the airtime).

Good news is that inbound text messages are free and outbound “only” $.59 for 160 characters or less.

Got it all from satellitephonestore.com who called to correct the mistakes I made in ordering and delivered on time as promised.

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