If you’ve ever been to a boat show or glanced through a boating/sailing magazine you know that boaters can easily spend tens of thousands of dollars or more on cool equipment and, of course, new gadgets. Having said this, there are two camps in the cruising world. One group consists of those “Luddites” that don’t want to have any “unnecessary” equipment. The other group are the Gearheads (sorry auto guys but you know what I mean) i.e. those that don’t want to leave the dock unless they have all the latest gadgets and equipment.
Don’t get me wrong as there are valid arguments on both sides. Luddites have solid boats with all the essential gear – sails, reliable engine, GPS, autopilot, depth-sounder, VHF, etc. – to get them safely where they want to go with minimal fuss AND minimal maintenance and repairs.
Gearheads, on the other hand, not only need to basics they also need a watermaker, generator, air conditioning, radar, autopilot, single sideband (SSB), Automatic Identification Systems (AIS), chartplotter, and all the gadgets that make cruising life safer and more comfortable.
I’ve always thought of myself as being closer to the luddites because I firmly believe that the more stuff you have onboard, the more stuff you have that will eventually break (at the most inopportune time in the most inopportune place) and will have to repaired by a very expensive mechanic or technician OR by McGyver i.e. yours truly.
Well, after doing an inventory of our boat and gadgets for this post, it appears that we are much closer to the Gearheads than I thought. Without going through our entire inventory, Celebration is equipped with almost all the stuff that a Gearhead would want including radar, autopilot, chartplotter, davits, solar panels, wind generator, GPS, EPIRB, and much, more. In our defense, we don’t have SSB, a watermaker, onboard generator or AIS. But, we do carry a portable Honda 2KW generator and (if you’ve been following our posts you already know this) a window air conditioner that fits nicely in our hatchway.
– Iridium GO – A brand new to market satellite wi-fi device that creates a hotspot on the boat and can connect up to 5 devices. We just got this and are still becoming familiar with it but it’s awesome for getting weather forecasts in the middle of nowhere, which is the primary purpose for we bought it. The airtime is really expensive on this so we only use it when we can’t get cell or wi-fi coverage but when it comes to safety onboard it’s one of our most important gadgets as it also has a direct link to GEOS safety services that can facilitate communication with the coast guard or other rescue and emergency services. Hopefully, we’ll never have to use them but it’s comforting to know we can.
– DeLoreme InReach SE – This is a small, handheld satellite based communications and safety device. It’s text-based and can be used to send short text messages or e-mails of up to 140 characters. It also has emergency safety services that can facilitate communications with emergency services. The great thing is it’s self-contained so, if necessary, you can take it with you and continue to communicate with emergency services without having to pair it to another device. Besides safety, SMS and email, we can also use this to track our position and post updates to Facebook and Twitter. We bought this unit before we left and it is great but we had to get the Iridium GO because you can’t get weather forecasts on the InReach SE, which is too bad because it’s a lot less expensive.
– Wirie Wi-Fi Booster – Just as it says, this boosts wi-fi signals enabling us to get free wi-fi on the boat, where available. Thanks to our tech guru, Graeme Lawson, for bringing us this gift when he and Sharon came to visit us in Puerto Vallarta.
– iPad – with lots of apps including back-up GPS navigation, weather, email (of course) and games.
– iPhone – not connected but we use it as a “mini-computer” when we are in ports that have wi-fi so we don’t have to carry the iPad. We also use it as a camera for candid moments.
– iPod Classic – yes, I know we could play music through the other “I” devices but we use the iPad for so many other things and, frankly, I can’t be bothered to transfer all of our music from an iPod Classic with 120GB to one that doesn’t hold anywhere near as much. Plus, the iPod works great so why mess with it.
– iPod Shuffle – Audrey uses this whenever we are in a place that you can actually run.
– Laptop computer – we use this mainly for watching movies and typing the blog since, as many of you can attest, the iPad is great for short messages but there’s nothing like a full keyboard.
– Portable hard drives – we have a 2 terabyte and a 500GB that we use to store the hundreds of movies and pictures we have in our collection.
– Telcel Banda Ancha – Mexico’s Telcel (Carlos Slim’s company) provides cellular internet access via a simple plug-in USB. It’s relatively cheap and works almost everywhere in the country. We’re going to miss this service when we leave as I don’t think it will be as inexpensive or convenient in our other destinations.
– Digital camera – new Nikon Coolpix L830.
– Nook e-readers – great for carrying hundreds of books without taking all the space, which we don’t have.
– Handheld Garmin GPS – primarily a backup but nice to have.
– Nokia Mexican phone – a very cheap and basic prepaid phone. Great for making local calls plus every time you recharge they seem to give you lots of free minutes.
– T-Mobile US phone – also a cheap and cheerful prepaid phone. We don’t use it that much but we need a US contact number and the T-mobile service has been reliable and relatively inexpensive.