We got some batteries for the Spot from a nearby cruiser friend and it turns out the batteries aren’t the problem. It’s just broken and, of course, out of warranty. This is the kind of thing that’s so easy to take care of when you’re stateside and in reliable phone and shipping contact but so difficult in more remote places.
Some more examples: while we were in St. Martin with good wifi I applied for Social Security online. Weeks later, and in a place with marginal wifi, I had a message on our Google voice account from someone in the SS office wanting a call back ASAP to discuss my application. Rats! I tried Skyping but didn’t have enough bandwidth. I emailed, explained the situation and asked if we could solve whatever problems there were via email. No response. Finally this morning I was able to get through on Skype but got the guy’s voicemail and it doesn’t do me any good to leave a message; he can’t call back. So I called the main number, explained how I can’t receive phone calls and would she please tell Mr. I-Need-To-Talk-To-You that either we set an phone appt and he pick up or email me. She took all the info and amazingly a few hours later I got an email from him confirming that my application has been processed and all is well. I suspect they call just to confirm you’re not an identity thief trying to sign up for someone else’s benefits. Whew!
Late last week I tried to log onto our bank to pay some bills and found our security token was locked “for my protection.” There was a phone number to call. So same problem: low bandwidth, etc. I did get through several times but though I could hear them perfectly they couldn’t hear me. I texted my sister and she called for me but they wouldn’t reset my token unless they talked to me. I just kept trying until the ethers aligned and they could hear me well enough to confirm it was me and get me back into my account. In this case I expect the problem to happen occasionally because they explained that with a very slow signal if I have to try several times to connect it will automatically lock me out thinking someone’s trying to hack in.
So as wonderful as it is to be off the grid (No electric bill! No water bill! No mortgage!) it’s endlessly frustrating and downright scary sometimes to have to rely on marginal Internet connections and whatever security measures you cobble together to protect your data and communications. We’ve had three credit cards compromised in the past year, one of them hadn’t even been used for over a month. How does that happen?
All of this is to say we won’t have a Spot map update for a while, so use the “posted from” map on each blog entry to see where we are. We just won’t be able to do a track while we’re underway until we replace the Spot. Sorry about that.