June 08, 2023

2023 is the year that I first realized that I was seeing live posts and updates from boats in the middle of the ocean.

Not only do we land-based dreamers get to follow along, boats that run into trouble hundreds of miles from shore can get in contact with other nearby boats for help. A boat crossing the Atlantic this winter lost their mast. They were able to start their motor and get a deisel refills from other sailboats on the same route.

Another boat hit a whale in the Pacific Ocean, and managed to get hold of help before their boat sank. They were rescued the same day.

On our (much shorter) crossings, we have had Iridium Go, which allows a choppy phone signal, text messaging, and is just barely good enough to get weather data while at sea. We had one pretty harrowing experience in a storm, and I used it to call the Coast Guard. I told them that we were safe, but that if they started getting a signal from our EPIRB, that it might be an actual emergency.

(And it goes without saying that this device wasn't working on our 2021 Bahamas trip. We kept close to shore for the most part.)

But I'm more than excited to add Starlink to the cruising arsenal. We tested a unit over Spring Break. While camping in a National Forest, out of cell coverage, I was able to do video calls with work while Mrs. theskinnyonbenny live streamed the Murdaugh murder trial. To say that this technology is a game-changer is a huge understatement.

But the sailors who just hop back and forth between Ft. Lauderdale and the Bahamas get soooo bitter.

The Starlink on Boats facebook page is full of posts like this.

"You know that technology that totally didn't exist 6 months ago?"

"The one that's available now because a private company spent years launching hundreds of low-orbit sattelites?"

"Well, they want to charge $250/month for it."


Don't get me wrong. $250 is not nothing. But if you can pay that and still work, then it pays for itself pretty fast. And if you aren't working, then just wait until you get where you're going and git a SIM card with some data from the country where you land.

As far as I can tell, Elon is too busy running off Twitter advertisers -- or "changing the work[sic] for the better" if that's your point of view -- by being a little baby in constant need of conservative fanboys kissing his behind to be messing up the engineers at Starlink who seem to have their shit together. Hopefully, it stays that way.