|GoBackTo 2004 Cruise Chapter Eight|
|5 July 2004|| Gold Coast||Family|
|14 July 2004|| KatieKat to be Shipped||Mixed|
|15 July 2004|| Connectivity, Computers, and Software||Techies|
|GoFwdTo 2004 Cruise Chapter Ten|
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From Mooloolaba we had a great moonlit overnight sail down the coast (outside Moreton Bay) to the Gold Coast, with a wonderful 20+knot tailwind. We spent a week revisiting our old haunts in Southport.
Looking up and down the dock from KatieKat, all you can see is multihulls. I'm convinced that there are more multihulls in Queensland alone than any other country in the world (and Queensland is a state).
It's a small world! Two years ago we had spent a few months in Hobart docked next to Slipstream. We next met up with her as we sailed up the coast north of Fraser Island. In 2003 we met her in Fiji, and now here she is in Southport!
Kathy had to jump on the kids' monorail again. The photo on the right was taken three years ago!
No, Kathy's not regressing. She was getting the sand off her feet as we had been brought across the Broadwater by a neighbor in a dinghy (a three-minute boatride instead of a half-hour walk).
We sadly said goodbye to Southport and its continuing massive construction projects and sailed on up to the Coomera River
We stayed a few days at Hope Island. Note that I'm experimenting hanging the trustyrusty bicycle off the bow pulpit (see also the above photo) since I'm getting tired of cleaning up the rusty grease left by the bikes in their usual safe amidships ondeck position (there's no room off the aft railing because of the SeaCycle back there). In the right photo, this very dramatic-looking power catamaran mystified me because it had daggerboards! Maybe a sailing rig is in its future?
Going back down the river we pass Sanctuary Cove where we attended the huge boat show a few weeks ago.
Wow, I was surprised at the number of comments when I revealed that we would be shipping KatieKat back to North America. What we're doing is shipping KatieKat on Dockwise Yacht Transport where we sail on and sail off the ship and we don't need to take the rig down. We're taking KatieKat to Vancouver, British Columbia, a most beautiful cruising ground. We hope to leave KatieKat up there for the winter and next summer (northern) hope to sail KatieKat up to Alaska - the goal being a photograph of our tropical cruising catamaran in front of an iceberg :-) Stay tuned for updates, as we're shipping in early August, with the boat arriving in Vancouver in early September, and we hope to get in some sailing there before storing the boat for the winter.
A number of reasons contributed to the (temporary) change in plans from our original planned itinerary of sailing to northern Europe - primarily, we need to spend quite a few months at home to refurbish my house which had been severely abused by tenants. We also need to retrieve all of our belongings which had been hastily stored after our marriage in early 2000 and before we even previously had had a chance to settle down before taking off on our cruise - hey, it's been a four-year honeymoon!
Our decision to take KatieKat to North America is simply one of convenience for now - although I would have liked to have sailed KatieKat back across the Pacific, it is far more expedient and cost effective to ship KatieKat across.
We are indeed quite sad to be leaving Australia...
In response to a few questions I've received, I thought I'd provide an update on our connectivity situation as it pertains to telephones and Internet access, as well as describe the onboard computer toys.
For phonecalls we use one of the many available low-cost phonecards (we use Global Gossip). The drawback is that one needs to punch in a long string of numbers (no, I haven't tried an audio-tone automatic dialer to see if it works), but the cost savings relative to normal phonecalls (especially overseas) are significant.
We have two pre-paid cellphones (one Optus the other Telstra). The pre-paid services are quite expensive but we are forced to use Pre-Paid since we don't have a permanent address and don't want to cheat the system. I was especially upset with Telstra as they changed their billing from rounding off to the nearest second to the nearest 30-seconds (or is it minute?). This has driven up our cost significantly and thus diminished my e-mail retrieval frequency. If we were staying longer I would comparison-shop all the cellphone service providers again to see who offers the best deal for our particular usage needs.
Our two GSM cellphones, a Nokia 7110 with infrared port and a Motorola m-Series for everyday use. Happily, when the Motorola's battery pack died, and a replacement was unobtainable, I was able to stuff four AA NiMH into its old case. A nice feature of GSM is that I can simply take out a service's SIM card from one phone and stick into the other, thus allowing me to use either phone service to connect to the Internet.
Here's how we do it:
Some marinas provide a phoneline and private area just for this purpose, which is very much appreciated (e.g., East Coast Marina in Manly). I use landlines whenever an Internet Cafe can't provide me with access, and it's interesting at the variety of ways one goes about begging/borrowing/buying access to a phoneline - a phoneline is something you simply take for granted when you live at home. Australia has a wonderful high-speed standard telephone infrastructure, with connectivity rarely lower than 48Kbps.
Landline with Apple's AirPort
I have three Macintosh computers which have had the industry-standard IEEE 802.11b (and newer) wireless connectivity built-in for many years now. I also have an Apple Airport Base Station which, if we're staying in one place, someone often lets me attach and simply leave plugged in to their fax/phoneline. This allows me to connect to the Internet remotely. If I'm lucky, the range extends to the boat. Often, using AirPort, Kathy and I will each be using our computers simultaneously, connecting at the same time to the Internet.
Our Apple AirPort IEEE 802.11b Base Station looks so friendly that we rarely have anyone tell us that we can't plug it into their phoneline.
Landline PayPhone Acoustic Modem
This rather ancient technology has been refined so that modern acoustic modems allow connectivity at speeds of 28K-33K (fastest I ever had was 36K). The awkwardness of balancing a computer and acoustic modem while feeding in money/card into the payphone and getting the dialup timing correct (both manual and computer) makes this not very desirable. When in New Zealand this was the most common way I connected since all their pre-paid cellphones specifically inhibited Internet access (expletive!). In Australia there seems to be some sort of time limit on this type of payphone access, as I invariably get disconnected after a few minutes even though this is a local call to my present single Australian ISP (Telstra BigPond). Painful if I happen to be uploading to this website.
This shows you how convoluted the acoustic modem setup is, with phonebooths rarely having enough room to set things up inside them. Now, imagine a cold wind howling and pouring rain and a balancing act for the hour or so that it takes to upload a webpage to this website. This is primarily how I did it in New Zealand, but happily in Australia I rarely need to resort to this technique.
More and more marinas and other areas provide "Hot Spots" for wireless access, which, as I mentioned, is already built into our Macintosh PowerBook and iBook. Actually, I use an external PCMCIA card on my oldest Mac, because I can then easily plug in an external antenna to extend the range. This wireless access is rather pricy, but the speeds are superb! Many of the local services offer a simple on-line logon and credit-card payment, so access is immediate with no paperwork or special configuration issues.
Even though it's built-in two of my Macs, I often use this external Lucent IEEE 802.11b PCMCIA card so I can plug in the small external antenna. The two Macs with their built-in antennas recently worked so well on the boat in Southport that they didn't need an external antenna.
This external antenna was needed in Gladstone because of the distance to the commercial WiFi antenna. Had to really raise it high to get past the interfering neighboring boats.
Cellphone (Mobile) Computer Connectivity
This is the most common way I connect while coastal passagemaking or anchoring out. The cellphone connectivity (primarily Telstra GSM) is superb all up and down the Australian coast. My Nokia cellphone flawlessly connects to my Macintosh using the infrared port, but there are two drawbacks: (1) The speed is 9600bps at best, which is fine for downloading fairly short email messages (I have the cutoff set at 15K) and is actually ok for downloading both the Australian coastal text weather forecasts and their four-day isobar chart (the Australian weather office webpages are wonderfully simple (minimal graphics!) and thus access very fast), and (2) my old Nokia 7110 has a software bug in it that precludes my sending email messages larger than 7K - rarely a problem as long as I remember this; nevertheless, this limitation prevents me from uploading all but the simplest files to this website. To keep costs down I subscribed to the "OffPeak" PrePaid account and only use it before 7:00am or after 7:00pm.
These are available everywhere in this part of the world. If in a hurry, I can just pop in and access my Yahoo account which retrieves my US ISP emails. Ability to connect using my own computer at an Internet cafe is still a hit-or-miss situation, primarily dependent upon the cafe's network configuration and the technical expertise of the individuals running it (and their willingness to let you plug in). This is becoming easier as many of the cafes have standardized on TCP/IP using the DHCP server, and then the trick is to find out what their SMTP address is to enable sending emails directly from the computer's mail program. Lately, broadband access speeds are very good here in Australia. The funniest Internet Cafe experience we had was in Fiji, where they were using a borrowed fax phoneline from a neighboring office to drive a half-dozen networked terminals using 28K connect speed. Not only was this pathetically slow if more than one or two terminals were being used, but every once in a while someone in the office wanted to use the fax machine and would knock everyone off the air with no notice! Why put up with it? - it was the only game in town, and they charged monopolistic prices for the privilege.
SailMail using the HF was a nice connectivity option, not just for personal email, but for the weather GRIB files which very nicely supplemented the weatherfax. If you have a ham license then there's also the WinLink system. Never got around to installing a satellite system (e.g., Iridium).
Finally, since this is KatieKat.net, here's our network:
Onboard Computer Electrical Power
Sailing-specific Macintosh Software includes -
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