My Techie

Now even though this is like black magic to the crew of Del Viento, I totally acknowledge that receiving weather faxes via short-wave radio is absolutely nothing to most other cruisers--basic, basic stuff.

May 21, 2013

Del Viento- tech

Here’s my wife, the magician, at her nav station. “How have you gotten weather info previously?” some might ask. The answer is that since we started, we’ve nearly always had internet access available, at least prior to beginning a passage, and we’ve simply come this far by the grace of, and the buoy data at –we’ve infrequently relied exclusively on VHF-broadcast weather, even when available. Michael Robertson

On our road trip from Washington, D.C. to Puerto Vallarta (where we bought Del Viento), Windy studied for her HAM radio license as we drove cross-country. The process culminated with a brief detour through a small, rural Wyoming town where the girls and I played in a park and got ice cream while Windy passed her technical exam in a nearby Kiwanis Club hall. The year was 2011.

Since then, our designated Onboard Communications Director hasn’t really used the Icom 710 single sideband (SSB) that came with the boat. Everything she learned is theory and she’s admittedly forgotten much of it (though radio guru Michael on Wondertime gave her a tutorial in Mexico last year).

But these past couple weeks, after admiring the way Kyra was able to post a report on the Nyon blog every day of their passage across the Pacific, I urged Windy to finally get fluent with our radio so we could do the same on our trip north this summer. After all, I imagine there will be lots of time when we won’t have internet connectivity.


And what she did today is very cool.

She plugged our laptop into the mic jack of the SSB, tuned to a broadcast being sent from Hawai’i, and our cabin filled with the beeping, static-noise of an office fax machine.

“Watch,” she said.


Soon, a beautiful satellite image of Vancouver Island and northern Washington state was rendered on the glowing screen, line-by-line. We all stared, holding our breath. Then maps of forecast weather and waves were slowly–miraculously–reproduced before us.

“Whoa,” I whispered, much like when Nemo first reached the edge of the reef.

Now even though this is like black magic to the crew of Del Viento, I totally acknowledge that receiving weather faxes via short-wave radio is absolutely nothing to most other cruisers–basic, basic stuff.


But there’s more.

In a flash of genius that reminds me why I married her, she downloaded some app on the iPad, set a pair of ear buds next to the mic jack on the iPad, and reproduced the same thing there.

She says that somewhere in our lockers is a different sound card she needs to dig out and play with before we can send and receive email via her PC, but I think she’s caught her groove and it’s clear sailing from here. Soon we’ll be equipped for getting and sending the info we need when we’re off the beaten track. You’ll know we’ve reached that nirvana when you see one of those TESTING, DOES THIS WORK? posts, a milestone indeed.



I__n our twenties, we traded our boat for a house and our freedom for careers. In our thirties, we slumbered through the American dream. In our forties, we woke and traded our house for a boat and our careers for freedom. And here we are. Follow along at

_Everyone should cruise with at least one kid, the skinnier the better. Exhibit A: Here Eleanor runs cable for me so I can install our VHF remote in the cockpit. She squeezed through one of those drawer cut-outs to get back where I needed the cable.


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