Preparations Are Coming Along 4/14/08

We are making pretty good progress and that is important since we are down to days for our departure. The weather has really cooperated and the painting is about half finished and a good part of the teak is done also. The painting is always difficult while the boat s in the water and we are working off of a floating platform. I keep promising myself that I will only do this next time on the hard. If this last ten years like the first coat I may not have to worry about it.

We have tested several forms of receiving WiFi while cruising and have had limited success. Doing a bit of research and getting feedback from other cruisers virtually all over the world we have come up with a very good system without spending a fortune. Many have reported good success with the Engenius 362 EXT usb WiFi Long Range unit with an 8db outdoor omni-directional antenna. We chose the Engenius antenna to help match the system but there are others that would probably work as well. The wireless unit is not weather proof so using some other folks ideas we mounted the unit and attached the antenna to a plastic electrical box, sealed it with silicone and made hangers to haul it up high enough to get a good signal. The results here at the marina have been wonderful. With the laptop itself we could pick up maybe three signals, and with other devices we have tried we picked up maybe four or five, but with our new set up we have picked up a dozen signals and some from across the lake which is quite a distance. We are very encouraged and looking forward to putting it to the test along our way.

We participated in a marine swap meet a week ago and lightened the boats waterline a bit selling off items we no longer need. We have a practice of going through the boat once a year and if it is not a spare part, or a piece of safety equipment and we have not touched it in a year it has to go. The balance of the items we did not sell at the swap meet were taken to the local marine consignment store.

This weekend we did the final fitting of the small panels for our cockpit side curtains and checked the fit of all of the panels. Susan is very happy with her "Florida Room". We can not explain how happy we are with this arrangement when offshore or anytime the weather gets bad. It is as though we have another cabin. So that is our current update. The vehicles will soon be on there way to Central Florida where they will await us at our next long term port of call, where ever that might be.

One other item we had been wanting to do for a while and just finished is to remove the TV, DVD recorder and satellite receiver from the 110 volt outlets and put them on their own power supply. We accomplished this by installing a Go Power 300 watt inverter that supplies power to a strip that all of these are plugged in to. The inverter is connected to a circuit breaker on one of our 12 volt panels. Now we can run the "entertainment center" while at anchor from this smaller inverter and don't have to fire up the main inverter and activate the entire boat. With the LCD TV, DVD recorder and Sat receiver we are only drawing 8 amps through the small inverter and since it is a pure sine wave inverter, the electronics are just happy running this way. we will post again probably just before departure and will continue our posts as we move along our route. We can do this via email through our SSB and Winlink system but can't post photos until we get internet connection. With the new system we should not have a problem. Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned.

Long Distance Scam Alert

It appears that the 809 area code scam has become active again. It now may include area codes 284 and 876.

A lot of folks here are cruising the Caribbean for the first time and may not know about this scam. Also they may have their families scammed into returning “emergency calls” or they may not see their phone bills for several months because of mail delays.

Here’s what I just received, I think the countries are actually the DR and Jamaica:

We actually received a call last week from the 809 area code. The woman said 'Hey, this is Karen. Sorry I missed you--get back to us quickly. I have something important to tell you.' Then she repeated a phone number beginning with 809 We didn't respond. Then this week, we received the following e-mail: Do Not DIAL AREA CODE 809, 284, AND 876 THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION PROVIDED TO US BY AT&T. DON'T EVER DIAL AREA CODE 809This one is being distributed all over the US . This is pretty scary, especially given the way they try to get you to call. Be sure you read this and pass it on. They get you to call by telling you that it is information about a family member who has been ill or to tell you someone h as been arrested, died, or to let you know you have won a wonderful prize, etc. In each case, you are told to call the 809 number right away. Since there are so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these calls. If you call from the U.S. , you will apparently be charged $2425 per-minute.Or, you'll get a long recorded message. The point is, they will try to keep you on the phone as long as possible to increase the charges. Unfortunately, when you get your phone bill, you'll often be charged more than $24,100.00.WHY IT WORKS:The 809 area code is located in the British Virgin Islands (The Bahamas). The charges afterwards can become a real nightmare. That's because you did actually make the call. If you complain, both your local phone company and your long distance carrier will not want to get involved and will most likely tell you that they are simply providing the billing for the foreign company. You'll end up dealing with a foreign company that argues they have done nothing wrong. Please forward this entire message to your friends, family and colleagues to help them become aware of this scam.