One of our many goals upon coming into the slip (again) was to get our Iridium Go! fully operational and set-up prior to going off the grid as we head north into Baja California. Up till now (for the last 6 months) we’ve cruised in areas where (for the most part) there’s been cell or WiFi signals and we’ve been able to communicate pretty well using our cell phones and WiFi extender. But it’s always been clear to me that Baja California is a special kind of wild…one of the special places around the globe where there is no good cell connectivity and definitely no WiFi. This means either going completely off the grid and losing connectivity for long periods of time with our families…or looking for a solution that can only be provided by satellite communications.
Flash Back to spring of 2018 and we purposely went to San Francisco to see relatives and attend the Pacific Sail and Power Boat Show, a duel purpose road trip. Bummer it’s been cancelled this year, but sooo much better to be safe than sorry. It was a really good idea for us to go to the show in 2018…as we picked up several different pieces of gear we use on a regular basis on the boat…and we met the Andersons. The Andersons are active cruisers who run the Andersons Abroad Website and have a good size boat that they’ve cruised for several years in both northern and southern latitudes. The Anderson’s also work with Sea-Tech Systems…which is why we met them at the boat show. They were there showing off high-end communication solutions and I thought I needed an actual satellite system to run my tiny blog…not a good solution for us after all. After attending the show several days in a row to look over gear at least twice before making a buying decision…Richard and his wife talked us through making smart and well informed buying decisions for the right gear. He talked me OUT of buying an expensive full satellite system and talked me into buying the Iridium Go! instead…such a better solution for us. After leaving the show, I didn’t think about the tech too much as it was something I would worry about in the future. I also didn’t start an Iridium Mail Account while I was in the US (real Idiot thing to miss!). I strongly suggest getting all of your Iridium functionality set-up before you start cruising…and not waiting till the VERY last day to get your actual paying Iridium Account set up. Because I was paying too much attention to the goings-on with our engine and not enough attention to our communications set-up, I missed going through these critical communications gates while I was still on strong internet.
Flash Forward to three weeks ago as we were making a weather based decision about heading into Mazatlan or staying the course to cross the Sea of Cortez right before a norther was coming….but were not able to pull that critical weather info off the Iridium Go! because of a rookie error on my part. It wasn’t really an error on my part, but it was just the fact that I didn’t realize I should just reset the machine. In the end, the lack of weather forecast shaped our decision to duck into Old Mazatlan Harbor and stay for nearly 6 days…during which time Richard Anderson helped me get the machine reset and back to downloading weather GRIBS. Fast Forward to Muertos…where we once again sat for nearly 5 days waiting out another norther….and I couldn’t get the Iridium to fire off texts or phone calls…and of course I didn’t have Iridium mail setup at all. So for the last 5 days in the slip, I’ve been working hard to get the Iridium to it’s full capability…set up an Iridium Mail Account, get the phone calling to work, get the Iridium to send and receive texts and put the HelmsMistress on the system.
But NONE of this would have been possible without help and tech support from Mr. Richard Anderson. Phone calls over the several days were happily and politely answered as he navigated a tech-dummy (me) through a challenge of screwups and minor tech difficulties than should have fixed ahead of time (like updated versions of browsers and apps) and some basic knowledge like turning on airplane mode and knowing the right passwords. I’m tickled to have full Iridium Go! capability for the first time since we left the US…especially as we go north into purposeful self-isolation and a low-tech life in the Sea of Cortez.
If you need communication solutions for your bug-out vehicle, compound, motorhome, or boat…I can’t recommend Sea-Tech Systems highly enough! Thanks Richard for fielding all of my phone calls.