Unplugged: How Much is Too Much?

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We have very little internet connection here in the Bahamas. And you know what? That is perfectly fine with us. Mostly. 

While being unplugged from the world is lovely in some aspects, it is actually a wee bit stressful some days. Keep in mind that we are not on vacation. This is not a 5 day/4 night adventure cruise where we unplug and reconnect with nature. Is that a great time to disconnect and rid your brain of all things media? You betcha! 

Trust me – we are far removed from snarky social media feeds, debates about the moron our country has elected (I never said I don’t make my own snarky comments) and which celebrity wore what when. 

What we are also far removed from is weather. Weather, the stock market, our property manager. Things that affect our safety and our ability to live this life. We cannot even get texts most days. And when I DO have a speck of a bar of connection? I strike my Statue of Liberty pose and try to hold still while my grib files load. Weather is always my priority – and for the most part I have been able to get at least 1 update a day. 

There is a front moving in that is being led by strong South winds and followed by 25 to 30 knot near gale force winds ranging from Northwest to North to Northeast. We need to know these things. Where we anchor is critical.  And as I am the one who is in the meteorological role on this boat, I prefer to have multiple updates a day.

I know this is a shocker, but weather changes. Some times it is a fast and furious change. Sometimes it is just a gentle stall of a front that was heading right for you, so now you can go outside and play. And sometimes the crap just stalls right over your head, blocking your solar panels. (In which case it is good to know ahead of time so you don’t drain your batteries the day before during an impromptu baking/gadget charging/music blaring dance party)

So why are we in this situation? That is a good question. *cough, cough, T Mobile, cough*

I switched us from Verizon to Tmobile just before we left on our adventure. Tmobile uses the Batelco towers (Batelco is the cellular company in the Bahamas) And while I was assured we would have coverage everywhere, we haven’t. For the most part, we do have adequate coverage on the phone. We can almost always receive texts and even browse the internet via our unlimited data package. But using the phone as a hotspot is not happening.  Everything we research must be done on our tiny screen. 

As I said, as long as we can get weather, we are really ok. We are only here until March, and then we will be back in the Land of Plenty Internet for hurricane season. So we are muddling our way through.

What is the solution?

That is a good question. One we didn’t know the answer to before we left. And so we opted to just trust our Tmobile rep. Who, hopefully no offense, has likely never had the joy of trying to use a cell phone internationally. 

One option is a satellite phone. If you knew our budget (and you will as soon as I have good enough coverage to upload images and spreadsheets…) you would know what a joke a satellite subscription is for us – particularly  when so many cruisers tell us how unreliable they are.

Another option is a cell signal booster. This one-time purchase is a much more likely solution. Much like a wifi boosting antenna, it boosts your cell signal. In almost every case, a cell booster (if they work) would solve our problems. But I cannot  really research those without internet…

For whatever reason Instagram seems to have magical connective powers – thus you all get to see almost daily pictures of the beautiful places we are finding! The bonus is that you know we are still alive, where we were in the past day or so, and likely where we are headed. (My Instagram  account posts to FB and Twitter, as well.)

For now, we are continuing south down the Exuma chain. Warderwick Wells is happening today. And we will stay there through Tuesday to explore the Land and Sea Park, and ride out the front. After that – we will continue south to Staniel Cay. Rumor has it they have excellent cell coverge!

2 Comments
  • Mark and Cindy - sv Cream Puff

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    Warrick Wells is awesome. Absolutely nothing there except nature. Great hiking trails! If you join the Bahamas Trust, you can get two free nights on the mooring balls (depending on the size of your boat this can be cheaper). Be sure to check out Cambridge Cay (aka Little Bells Cay) as well. Excellent snorkeling at both. The Aquarium is a great spot to snorkel. Both places offer great protection from weather.

    Speaking of weather, Chris Parker does a detailed update each morning on HF radio. If you do not have a SSB radio you can purchase a cheap receiver such as this https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QMTI6YK?psc=1 Then, you are not dependant on the cell phone.

    Staniel has good cell phone and great food at the Yacht Club (yum).

    Mark and Cindy
    s/v Cream Puff

    • Jennifer

      Thanks Cream Puff! Always great info. I will check out that link. We are looking to pick up a receiver this spring when/if we bounce over to the States for a few months.
      We actually grabbed a ball at Cambridge for a couple nights and had a great time. Off to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club tomorrow for lunch!

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