First, she checked radio propagation via our bundled Airmail software. This allows us to determine, from any spot on earth at any moment, the best frequency to contact any other spot on Earth. Next, she typed in the commands that would let our computer tell someone else's computer just what it was we were looking for. Then, she fired up our Icom 710 SSB radio along with our German-built Pactor digital modem, roamed for a clear station, and hit "enter" with authority. Soon digital packets of information were whizzing back and forth between our vessel and the Internet via an SSB shore station. Computer windows started popping open. These wind charts, text forecasts, and razor-sharp digital weather charts (known locally as "fleet codes," a holdover, strangely, from World War II) provided us with an astounding amount of cost-free, location-specific, "almost real time" weather information at our digital fingertips.