Tech Talk, Part 1

posted in: Preparing to Go Cruising | 1

Let’s talk about technology. I use technology in my personal life as well as in my former work life as Director of Mathematics. At work it was mostly Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, OutLook, PowerPoint) and a variety of specialized software used in our district – PowerSchool, ProTraxx, AppliTracks, VersaTrip,  Atlas Rubicon, BudgetSense, SharePoint, Google Docs ……..(I’ll bet that all sounds familiar to a few of you!) There was also a tech department so that when I did fall into the black hole of technology, there was someone to rescue me!

Now in retirement, the technology is somewhat the same and yet also quite different. The technology side of planning a voyage on a small boat has been challenging, and at times, overwhelming (no tech department to call for help!) There is so much to consider and research for an 8-9 month voyage! We have each spent many hours researching all aspects of our planned adventure. Any question that popped into our heads led to a “let’s google that.” There are also some great sites for information, to name just a few –

  • Seven Seas Cruising Association
  • Cruisers and Sailors Forum
  • Women and Cruising
  • The Boat Galley
  • Active Captain
  • and many wonderful sailing/cruising blogs by other people who taken the plunge

The first question to answer was what technology would we need? We admit that we can no longer live without the advantages of technology. Or perhaps, a more honest way to state it is that we don’t want to live without some of this technology.  Therefore, we needed to figure out how to bring our land technology onto the boat.

  • We have our cell phones (my iPhone and Al’s good old flip phone), our good old iPods for music (gotta have our favorite music!), Al’s iPad, and my Nook reader. The Nook will allow us to save space onboard. I like to read and I finally have the time to do it!
Ipad, Nook, phones, iPods, oh my!
Ipad, Nook, phones, iPods, oh my!
  • For the past 8 weeks I have immersed myself in learning how to use my new MacBook Pro laptop. I used the independent experiential approach as well as One-To-One sessions at the Apple Store. The Mac operating system required some new learning after 13 years in a PC environment, but I love it.
My MacBook Pro 13 inch
MacBook Pro 13 inch
  • And a new camera, Canon PowerShot 280 HS with a 20X zoom for the trip. I am a point-and-shoot girl; never did learn how much about f-stops and apertures so please don’t expect amazing photos on this blog.
  • Then there are assorted little gadgets that accompany the core devices. Things like a DVD/CD drive, external WD hard drive to use with Time Machine for back-up, power cords, connecting cords, USB flash drives, and SSD cards ….. and did I mention power cords?
Imagine if it all gets tangled....
Imagine if it all gets tangled….

It’s all well and good to have a computer and an ipad, but you need to connect to the internet somehow while out on the water. After a bit of research, we decided to use for our internet service. They provide you with a MiFi Jetpack 4G LTE “thing.” This little device fits in the palm of my hand and connects up to 10 devices to the internet – our own little hub. This option turned out to be much more reasonable than going through our cell phone company. 20 gigabytes of data per month with no contract compared to the 2 gigabytes and a 2-year contract with “Big Red,” (if you know who I mean.) We tested this at Block island last week and everything worked quite well. Seems like magic to me.

The magic JetPack
The magic JetPack

The steepest learning curve was for this blog – blogging, oh my! Learning WordPress has provided me with plenty of mental exercise. I am grateful that Al knows some html to help me out. The new blog vocabulary has been curious, like a new language – posts, plug-ins, widgets, avatars, gravatars, feeds, categories, tags, sidebar. All this just because I wanted my mother and father to know how we are doing while we are gone. I’d like to think our children might be interested too!

I guess the bottom line is that all of this technology allows us to stay connected, by phone, by email, by memories that are digitally recorded.  Being connected to others is part of the human experience.

I haven’t even begun to describe the new technology necessary for sailing! Necessary? I hear there was a time in the past when people sailed boats without the advantage of technology; just sails, the stars, and a compass – real pioneers! I will save the marine technology for another post.

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