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What would be worse when living on board a boat in Grenada:

  1. Having your head (toilet) stop functioning
  2. Developing a leak in your inflatable dinghy
  3. Having a computer which mysteriously refuses to start

Although none of the above are desirable, I’m going to vote for number 3 because, unlike the first two issues, there is nowhere to have an Apple computer repaired here.

After hours of troubleshooting yesterday, which included the help of a couple of friends here in Grenada, and my computer-savvy friends online, and countless consultations with The Oracle, I came to the conclusion that the issue is almost certainly caused by a hardware failure. Not cool.

  • Bad News: This computer is less than one year old. The moist tropical air is seriously hard on electronics.
  • Good News: This computer is less than one year old. As of yesterday there were five days remaining on the warranty.
  • Bad News: There are no Apple dealers in Grenada. The computer will need to be sent back.
  • Good News: Our friends on Shiloh are leaving tomorrow to return to Canada and have offered to bring the computer to an Apple dealer there for us.
  • Bad News: I will be without my computer for however long it takes to have it shipped back to me.
  • Good News: We have other computers, and I’m still in beautiful Grenada, so how bad can it be, right?

I can make light of this but only because we do have backup computers. This is very serious as I rely upon that computer for everything from weather to communication to banking to updating this blog! Without a second (or 3rd) computer to fill that gap, it would have been a problem. Even with that backup there was some serious cussing happening on our boat yesterday. I’m told the neighbors couldn’t hear it although I don’t know how.

With the repair process having started and a good night’s sleep behind me, I feel better today. In fact, I am especially thankful for our friends on Ainulindale and Shiloh who both, without being asked, made our problem their own and invested time and energy into trying to help. Non-functioning computers may make me unhappy but having good friends makes me smile!


  1. If you haven’t already and there is still time you should get the extended warranty (Apple Care Protection Plan). It gives you two more years of coverage, plus you can buy it one more time for a total of 4 years + the initial year. I’ve owned Mac for years and always had it and its paid off.

    • Good tip, Danny. I paid for it yesterday. 🙂

      Laptop computers are in fact the only thing I ever buy extended warranties on and I agree, they usually pay off. I did not buy it last year when I bought this computer as I felt that it would be too difficult to get it to a dealer for repairs. As it turns out, it was necessary anyway.

  2. Mike seem to recall Taru ( who also has a great sailing blog) had a problem with her Mac – not quite sure how the problem was resolved. You may want to contact her for some thoughts (as u guys leave me for dead with your puta wizardry ) she is in St Maarten presently I believe – anyway check out her website / blog.
    The planet now relies on computers to operate ( me esp to earn a living ) – thought they were going to create unemployment !!! wasn’t that the mantra !!!!
    All the best, great following you in your travels -/ adventures.

    • Hi Stewart

      Thanks for the tip. I am familiar with that blog.

      When it comes to troubleshooting Macs, I am definitely not a beginner, having used solely Macs for over 20 years. After having tried every trick available to users, and after having consulted my friend who is a Mac dealer, I am convinced this is not a user serviceable issue. It is in fact quite likely the logic board which will need to be replaced. I wish that wasn’t the case but I fear it is.

  3. Thank Goodness for friends and Thank Goodness for backup computers and Thank Goodness for beautiful Grenada 🙂 and a good sleep that makes everything better the next day !

  4. I get the cheapest computer that will do the job. Right now I’m using a little netbook machine. They seem to last just as long as the expensive machines. However, I’m not in the Apple universe. Mostly use Linux for day to day computing.

    Salt air is harsh on everything.

    Good idea to get extended warranties in that enviornment.

  5. Do you keep your computer out each day or do you store it in something when you’re not using it? I wonder if you can use a Pelican Case or something similar to extend it’s life?

    • Our friends who were here helping us yesterday do keep their computer in a dry bag with silica packs when not in use. Our computers are almost always on though making that a less-than-practical solution for us.

  6. Sounds like you need something like a Panasonic Toughbook :-). Ungainly looking device, but it will survive…

  7. Good News: You’re not in Mexico where it’s nearly impossible to get anything shipped! In or out.

  8. Mike, I love Macs and have had them for many years as well, however I am considering switching to (cover your ears) a windows machine when I go cruising because of the dependability issues. Nobody makes tough macs, whereas there are dozens of of tough windows machines out there, many made to military marine specs. Here is a website I found with some interesting machines:

  9. Great news that you were still within your warranty! It often seems that thinks “break” right after the warranty expires. You barely made it, but barely is better than not!

    Your post does make me realize just how harsh the cruising environment can be.

    • We have very computer-savvy friends who buy two of the same model laptops so that WHEN they inevitably break, they can salvage parts from the two and hopefully make one that functions!

  10. Damned Autocorrect!

  11. If only there were a decent iOS app for blogging I’d rely solely on an iPad and keyboard dock while onboard.

  12. Im sorry but I will have to vote for the head! The dinghy I can pump up when needed. The computer while cruising to me is a luxury and would only be missed for a short time. The head? I mean come on that cold be the most inconvenient and disgusting of all three:-) that’s why we went composting.

    • Perhaps you missed the point, AJ.

      *You can purchase parts for the head and it can be fixed by YOU. It does not have to be sent back to North America for repairs.
      *Also, if worse came to worst before that occurred, pee overboard or bucket and chuck it!

      What would your work-around be for the computer (which for us, it NOT a luxury)?

      • I think you already have that figured out and that is to carry a couple of spares. I guess my reply was a little “tongue in cheek”! I guess computers are a love hate relationship. Maybe one of the beauties of the Caribe is the fact they aren’t caught up on the latest and greatest electronic devices?

        • I suspected that was where you were coming from. I do think that many people would be surprised just how much computers and electronics are a part of modern cruising.

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