In January of 1968, the USS Pueblo a “technical research vessel” (Navy Intelligence) was boarded and captured by North Korean Forces. Initially the United States attempted to deny, deny, deny. The claim that it was not a spy ship was hampered by the fact that the ship with numerous electronic appendages looked like a floating antenna farm. Today, the USS Pueblo remains the third-oldest commissioned ship in the US Navy, and the only ship of the U.S. Navy currently being held captive.
Motivator’s Radar Arch
I only mention USS Pueblo because modern cruising vessels are like the Pueblo in that they are also floating antenna farms.
The Very High Frequency (VHF) radio remains the cruiser’s primary means of communications. It is used for ship to ship and ship to shore communications. Cruisers communicate with buddy boats and crew members in launches, coordinate crossing situations, arrange dockage, receive weather information, and conduct cruiser’s nets via the VHF radio. Cruiser’s nets are established for a geographical area and are usually hosted by volunteers. The Grenada Cruisers Net is at 7:30 AM on International Channel 66 Monday through Saturday. The agenda is: Security & Navigation, Weather, New Arrivals, Departing Vessels, Needed Parts and Services, Treasures from the Bilge (items you wish to sell or give away), Social Announcements, Commercial Announcements, and Items Missed. On most mornings the net takes about 30 minutes.
Single Side Band (SSB) radio is also popular among cruisers and unlike VHF allows for communications over vast distances if atmospheric conditions permit. SSB allows cruisers to get weather information, routing recommendations, participate in nets, and with extra equipment send and receive emails. Because of the equipment costs and the learning curve associated with SSB, Motivator is not equipped. So far we have not needed SSB, and I think it would only be necessary if we were crossing oceans or traveling to very remote places.
The ship’s radar becomes your eyes in fog or at night for identifying possible vessel traffic. Radar can also be used to verify your position by comparing displayed land features with your navigational chart.
Motivator is alerting with Stop The Press
Motivator’s router is buried under the fly bridge console
Motivator’s client bridge mounted below the radar arch
Most cruisers have some sort of WiFi enhancer. Probably the most popular model is the Silver Bullet. Motivator has been well served by a system supplied by Kennan Systems. The Kennan system consists of an external antenna connected to a client bridge that is powered by a Power Over Ethernet (POE) injector that then connects to the ship’s router. Once in port or at anchor, the client bridge is accessed through the router and the area is scanned for a suitable open WiFi.
OTA in Grenada
On the other end of the spectrum is our Skype phone that has remarkably low service charges. The Skype service is Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), thus dependent on good Internet service.