Welcome to Ken's Blog

GSSR#37 - Well, that wasn't very exciting 08/31/2009
I always say that  writing my blog feels at times like a battle between myself and the readers. It's like a Nascar race. If they were to send out a press release saying, "We have new-improved cars, which are absolutely guaranteed never to bump into anything." The drivers might be happy, but the bleachers would be empty.

Well, I'm VERY happy to report that...

The typhoon appears to have missed us. We spent yesterday preparing for the typhoon, and have been waiting all day for what was supposed to be a direct strike with 80 knot winds. I even charged the batteries on my camera, and on the camcorder, and the wind never passed 22 knots. It was rolly for a while in the marina, but that was it.

Unless there's another storm on the horizon, the GSSR will be back on the move as soon as the sea is calm.

Our plan was to take a week working our way slowly to Osaka, 400 miles south, cruising only during the day, and stopping to anchor along the way. This is the last passage of the GSSR and we'd like to enjoy it. However, my sense is that our close-call with the typhoon will accelerate our trip south. The height of typhoon season is the wrong time for a leisurely cruise down the coast. I don't think we'll run around the clock, but I suspect we'll run faster than we would have.

I'll write more once we are underway.

-Ken Williams
Nordhavn 68, Sans Souci
www.kensblog.com
Hi Ken,

I hope everything is holding up for you. Judging from your 'Spot' location you've been blown around quite a bit. I'll be thinking of you.
by Paige on Sep 03, 2009, 06:32 PM EST
Good morning Ron:

My SPOT will show movement sometime in the next couple hours. I'm working on a blog entry now...

Here's the one paragraph summary...

We're in a bit of a messy situation. High winds, and a typhoon warning, while in a port that is definitely not typhoon proof. We need to move, and yet can't. Argh.

Not going to be a fun day.

-Ken W

PS All fine in Mexico. My son's house took some damage, but nothing insurance won't cover. And, my house came through no problem.
by Ken Williams on Sep 03, 2009, 05:58 PM EST
Ken,
Your SPOT position is 1 day old and down the peninsula from Yokohama. Seabird is in the same location but 2 days old and Grey Pearl doesn't have a position, but the map of the West Coast is displayed centerted on San Francisco.

I guess you've gotten undetrway and are holding in a port? How did your son's house fair in Mexico?

Ron Rogers
by Ron Rogers on Sep 03, 2009, 04:58 PM EST
Good morning Rick (or, at least it is here in Tokyo),

The Mini Vsat is incredible. With the exception of a couple times on the inland passage, it worked non-stop all the way here to Japan. And, they have now added support for Australia and New Zealand. It really is a global service.

The performance has been rock solid at 2 megabit download, and 512k upload. That's their highest speed, and the highest cost. They have packages that cost between $1,000 a month and $6,000 a month. You'll want to check their policy as far as cancelling during the 'off season'. I seem to remember that they said that you are only allowed to stop service three months a year, but I'm not at all certain about this.

I have had one annoying technical glitch. About three times a day, my internet locks up. I've spent hours on the phone with them, and were we somewhere easy to ship to, I'm sure I'd have a new unit by now. I've been power cycling the unit, when it hangs, and we are back online in minutes. They claim I'm the only one with this problem.

At the height of the trip, across the Aleutians, we had three boats, with a total of 14 people, all sharing my connection -- and, it was wonderful. I was a very popular guy.

So .. the only downside I can think of is: price. That said, I should also mention that their 'unlimited package' does have a limit. I had to push them to find what it is, but the magic number is 12 gigabytes. If you go over 12 gigabytes, they'll threaten to boot you off the service or charge you more (an extra $1,000 a gigabyte). For any 'normal' user, who isn't downloading movies, this is a fine limitation, and not an issue. I run an internet business, and am on constantly, plus was uploading videos from the trip. My usage in April was 3 gigabytes, May 5 gigabytes, June 7 gigabytes, July 14 gigabytes, and the August stats aren't in yet. My guess is that I'll be back down to 5 or 6 gigabytes. July was the time spent in the Aleutians, when we had 14 bored surfers hard at work.

The phone service has been great. The quality varies with data traffic. WHen lots of people were using the internet, the quality was atrocious. I had to shut people down to make a phone call. When it is just Roberta and I using the internet, the quality is great. There is a delay, which is worse than a landline, but better than most sat phones. Recently, I've turned the Vsat off, because I get a cheap 7.2 mb connection here in Japan with a 3g card (E-Mobile). To my surprise, the phone still works. I guess the positioning unit was pointed the right way before I shut it down.

As a backup, I use the Fleet Broadband 250. It was only used a few days when at anchor in deep canyons. I racked up enormous bills on it ($1,700 in a day). I haven't needed it since, although I did test it in the Aleutians, and it worked fine.

-Ken W
by Ken Williams on Aug 31, 2009, 06:59 PM EST
Ken,

Would you give us a grade card on the KVH mini Vsat. How has it been working? What download speed can you depend on and what types of things can you do with the bandwidth. Also, is the associated telephone service working for you?

Rick Heiniger
by Rick Heiniger on Aug 31, 2009, 03:36 PM EST