(Missing) communication

I usually get up in the morning, put the coffee on the stove, turn on the computer and get weather forecasts, news and emails with a wobbly internet connection via the local mobile phone network while the water in the espresso-pot bubbles up (every other day I whip up a bread dough with my third and fourth hand simultaneously, but that’s another blog entry).

This morning neither the data-stick nor the telephone showed a single bar of phone connection. Hmpf. Whenever we’re away from civilisation I do the above mentioned ritual with our SSB radio (and pactor modem), but when I got a connection to our usual Sailmail station (private network of radio stations) I got a message that the station had been without internet connection for 107 hours. No internet, no messages. Double-hmpf.

In the end I got weather via the Winlink station in Hawaii (network of stations for HAM users), but as US winlink stations no longer serve non-US-citizens (apart from weather forecasts) I still had no emails. In the end another sailmail station in Niue provided a very weak link to download emails and we read our usual morning info hours after coffee.

All those complications made us contemplate what would happen if those services on which we rely for vital weather info and our connection to the world should suddenly stop working. Normally impossible, but who would have thought that curfews could be imposed, flight connections shut down and shops closed indefinitely? Nothing seems certain anymore.

Our neighbour’s practising using a sextant and learning astronavigation in case GPS should fail…

The mobile phone network is still down, but If you see this blog entry I’ve managed to find a sailmail station ;-)


  1. Phil Perfitt says:

    Hello Christian, Birgit, and ship’s cat Leeloo!
    I stumbled across a bookmark to your blog this morning which made me notice the lack of Pitufa posts on the French Polynesia Facebook page. So I visited your blog. I’m happy to find you are in the Gambiers! Safely out of the weather, meteorological AND virolgical.
    You reported that “people now see sailboats with fear and anger”. I doubt that has faded much, more likely strengthened with the unavoidable arrival of ARC yachts. Given your many seasons cruising there I expect that most, if not all, the locals recognize and welcome you. Has this been the case? Are you able to move to other anchorages in response to weather? PolyMagNet is probably sporadic to?
    I was heartened to learn you were able to fully provision as inter island travel may become more unreliable before returning to its normal level of unreliability. (•‿•)

    Deb and I left Coastal Drifter on the hard in Tonga Vavau in January and we flew to New Zealand for a campervan holiday. Our three-month tour was cutoff by announcement of Covid-19 containment measures on 23 March. We were visiting a small west-coast beach town on the North Island named Opunake. (39.4518S 173.8477E)
    As we were strategizing about how to get as far North as possible (warmer!), a Kiwi couple we had talked to earlier came down to the beach and offered us their backyard guest cottage for the duration. We both said “Yes! Thank you!”
    So here we are with all the necessities on the mains with a fridge, microwave, hot water shower, and Wi-Fi. No cooker, but theres one in the campervan. There’s a large garden to mess around in, and some domestic ducks and chickens for entertainment. The chinois (called “dairy” here) is a 15 minute walk and the beach is even closer.
    Tonga is closed to foreign nationals and to all arriving yachts. There are no flights anyhow. The Canadian consulate in Wellington gives us a daily update, but we feel that staying in NZ is far safer than flying and living in Canada, for the present. NZ has a lot of foreign tourists still stranded here and has taken steps to make sure they are suitably housed to enable isolating without freezing or starving. The PM also announced that anyone! with Covid-19 symptoms would receive free medical care.
    We are still well on day 10 of lockdown as are our hosts, Viv & Rob Davy. Rob is 86 and Viv perhaps 75, so they are in the most vulnerable demographic. We stay apart but still talk as we met in the garden or the cavernous workshop. When going to the shops we wear latex or rubber gloves. The stores restrict the number of shoppers allowed in to ensure physical distance can be maintained. So far supplies are good and people are quite civil. Even in Auckland, which has a million and a half people, has had relatively little unrest. As in FP, there is some backlash against tourists, though it has faded somewhat as the govt has managed to keep the campervan crowd stationary.
    I hope your cell service fills in whenever Sailmail fades out! Stay well and know that someone out there is reading your blog posts!
    Love, Phil and Deb

  2. Dagmar Högler says:

    liebe Birgit,
    falls ihr mails erhaltet, könntet ihr mir hin und wieder über die Lage in eurem Eck der Welt berichten, Internetverbindung usw. Wir beobachten die Lage, ein bisschen abseits der Medien und würden uns freuen, von euch zu hören.

    da wir selber segeln, lese ich gerne euren blog

    rosige Grüße

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