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In the 5000+ miles that Rebecca and I have traveled since leaving Canada, we have seldom been without internet access. Only a handful of places, typically far removed from civilization, have not netted us at least one Wi-Fi signal available from the boat, even if it was one that we would have to pay for (much more frequently we would find several freely-available unlocked ones). Yes, the $35.00 Alfa Wi-Fi amplifier that we set out with, and now the more-elaborate (and much more expensive) WirieAP setup that we currently carry, have served us well. It is because of our past success that Sint Maarten is all the more frustrating for us. The area’s lack of a decent Wi-Fi source accessible from the boats in the Lagoon is astounding considering how developed it is.

Five years ago cruisers would have considered themselves fortunate to be able to find a library or a cafe on shore where they could sit with their laptop computers and access the internet. Now, bringing the computer to shore seems like such a huge inconvenience, although that is precisely what most everyone has to do here to get online. Long-term Sint Maartenresidents” can apparently rent or purchase special modems to access internet services, payable by monthly subscriptions, but they are not cheap making them out of the question for us.

In addition to the inconvenience factor of taking the computer to shore for internet, it almost always ends up costing us money too. One can’t just stroll into a cafe and sit there for an hour or so, using their facilities, without purchasing something. A few dollars every day adds up. For this reason and more, I was extremely happy to make friends with a couple who were crewing on one of the mega yachts here who kindly shared with me the access password for one of the marina’s networks. I am now ecstatic to report that I can access the internet from ZTC, this being the first post since we’ve been in St. Maarten not uploaded from shore. In what I consider a serious source of irony though, on the day that I obtain Wi-Fi access from our boat, Rebecca travels to a location in California where she cannot get internet without taking her computer to a cafe. WTF is up with that?

What’s more ironic, the above-described internet situation or this?

18 Comments

  1. Ugh…that IS a bummer. How quickly we have become spoiled!! And yes, of all the places you’d think would have good internet – St. Maarten would definitely top the list! PS. Is that fitness center there? Or just a stock photo? Too funny.

  2. Years ago, I used to get on the net with an acoustic coupler strapped to a pay phone. Remember pay phones? It was slow as death. Took about 15 minutes to download my e-mail. We were traveling the US, living out of a tent, and I was editing an on-line magazine from the road.

    The best connecting we had was at a campground/marina in Key Largo. They had phone jacks at the outdoor bar overlooking Florida Bay.

    Wifi makes everything so much easier.

  3. You dont appreciate internet until you travel to the islands and everything slows done or there is no service……It took me two hours to download my videos on the trip each…….That forced me to sit in a bar and drink while the videos downloaded

  4. So I’m sorry to be a buzz kill here, but you need to suck it up. Cruising without Internet becomes increasingly common the farther you go. We basically didn’t have Internet at all… even on shore… from Hiva Oa to Tonga. It isn’t fun, but you get used to it.

  5. This was the same problem my daughter had when she was on a yacht in Melbourne. The 24hr fitness pic it too funny. I guess they could advertise that they were going to work you so hard that you’d have to roll out to the parking lot.

  6. I hope you ONLY use free and open wifi access and not open access that a private individual or business has not secured because nothing is free. Bandwidth is not free. A business opens their wifi so one can use it while purchasing their products or services. Marina’s give “free” access to their clients not to those who anchor out and use the wifi. An individual, like a child, who may not have secured their wifi is not offering it free. They may need their bandwidth to do their school work and if someone uses it up….. then they loose or have to pay more. That is not the way to use “free” wifi. Too many yatties boast that they use “free” wifi but they are just stealing someones resources. Sharing a password. You deserve the hacks of your password for taking others password.

    • Sorry Harry, I work under the assumption that an unsecured signal is as such because the owners don’t mind if people use it. It certainly was that way with our business (I did not lock our Wi-Fi network). As for me using our friends’ password to access the internet, I guarantee you that is far from the worst thing I have ever done. I guess I’m a bad man.

  7. Some of our fondest memories are of cruising before the Internet and cell phone became popular. You had a much more detached feeling and actually felt you were leaving modern day life behind, something I felt cruising was about. Now I’m an Internet junkie and the thought of being without is painful!

  8. Started reading your blog a few days ago, and have gotten this far; good stuff. Also liked your Facebook page so I can know what’s going on now instead of two years ago!

    On a side note, I have actually seen that “fitness center,” or one exactly like it; I’m pretty sure it was in Southern California somewhere, probably San Diego.

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