Staying in Touch While Cruising The Bahamas

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Keeping in touch with family and friends as you are in foreign lands while not impossible, certainly can be tough. While we were city dwellers it was amazing how much we relied on our cell phones. We used them to talk and text our friends and families. We used them to check work emails the second we woke up in the morning. We used them to order delivery and shop on Amazon or whatever else our little hearts desired. It was a bad day when we realized we forgot our phone after we were already on the train. Tragic, really.

Given we came from a world that was so dependent on being accessible, I was really looking forward to being able to disconnect. But having a game plan for checking in with people every now and again to let them know you are still alive was also important. The good news is that you have a few options when you’re out there having the time of your life and sailing through the Bahamas.

Before we left the states I signed up for a Google Voice number. Google Voice is genius. You sign up for a phone number and you can use that number to make calls on your computer through gmail. (You can also have it forwarded to any landline or mobile number in the US, but that is not the point of this post.) Anywhere I have internet I can use my Google Voice number. The best thing is that calls to the States from our US based phone number are free! I thought they were going to cost us a steep one cent a minute but we haven’t had to pay for any of our calls as of yet. Friends and family can call or text your number and if you are not signed online voicemails and texts are forwarded to your email. They also have an app for your smartphone. We’ve been incredibly happy in using Google Voice as we’ve been sailing. Google voice ┬ácalls to a Bahamian land line costs 10 cents per minute and 22 cents for cell phone. We also use Skype when we have a good internet connection. I mean, sometimes you want to show people just how beautiful it is where you’re sailing! Skype is always a good time, but video definitely requires some major bandwidth. Skype calls to the Bahamas cost 12.1 cents per minute.

skype_sailing

{Skyping with our friends back in in New York City. These kids are seriously cool.}

Wifi has been pretty available pretty much everywhere we’ve sailed outside of remote islands. All throughout the Abacos you can pick up wifi hotspots that you can use for a fee. Out Island Internet seems to be pretty limited to the Abacos but Bahamas WiMax has hubs all throughout the country. These services are great, but can be kind of pricey. You can subscribe daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. Before we left we also bought this fancy wifi antenna and booster in hopes that we’d be able to pick up nearby restaurants’ wifi from the comfort of our cockpit. The idea, in theory, was great. In reality, restaurants have gotten a lot smarter. Most of them use directional boosters and make it nearly impossible for you to pick up their signals anywhere outside their space. So, we’re left buying a lot of drinks (damn!) so we can write these blog posts and email with friends and family. I mean, the things we do for you!

The other option we use is buying a local sim card for an unlocked smart phone. Once you have a BTC sim card, you can turn your phone into a wifi hotspot that your computer can connect to. Data can be purchased for as low as $3 and this is a great way for checking emails. If you have heavy internet to do (uploading images to a blog for instance) it is best to go into town, buy a Bush Crack and use the local restaurant’s wifi. This has been the primary way Jason and I have been able to stay in touch since I left for my little workcation. He even managed to email me from the top of the mast (that he somehow managed to hoist himself up).

So for those of you worried about keeping in touch with the ones you love when you are out on your grand adventure, have no fear! If you want to be reached, you can most of the time.

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