At the office, wireless in the B.V.I.

BVI wireless cPanbo

6:30am at the Bitter End Yacht Club, British Virgin Islands: the picture, of course, misses salient details—like the gulls rapping as they work over some leftover conch fritters, or the gentle breeze wafting through my tiki. A lot of us have made this little corner of the vast resort into part time offices as this is where the WiFi signals are the strongest (and there’s a waitress). Unfortunately the BEYC’s own free WiFi has not been connecting to the Internet for a couple of days now. I asked about it at the front desk yesterday and a nice lady there gave me a sympathetic (perhaps pitying?) look and lilted: “Da Internet?…oh, sometimes dat works, and sometimes dat don’t.”

  I could sometimes get onto the Saba Rock Bar’s WiFi network, about a quarter mile to my right, but finally, frustrated, I signed up for the BVI Marine WiFi commercial service also available here. It’s working great on my laptop—I’m listening to NPR streaming radio as I write this, for instance—but it is the most expensive Internet access I’ve ever purchased. Plus it’s the first WiFi connection I haven’t been able to complete with my latest gizmo, that Nokia N800 internet tablet seen at right in the photo. I’m in total geek love with the thing, and had hoped I could use it here for VOIP calls, but so far my only success was a test call to one my PMY mates. It was pretty cool that I completed a call to his Seattle number via WiFi and Gizmo Project, but he was sitting across the table from me when he answered it!
   He’s since found out that calls, in or out, are costing him $2 a minute, so he’s not taking many. But at least his GSM phone is working—mine doesn’t have service at all—and he was even able to get his email via GPRS and a bluetooth connection to his laptop (which he says didn’t work here last year). Meanwhile some the company’s big cheeses with international Blackberries are getting email, Web access, and voice calls just fine, but no one knows the cost (yet). I bring all this up largely because all those cruising and charter boats out in the anchorage are no doubt experiencing the same mix of communications possibilities and frustrations.

Similar Posts:


Using Seaside Wi-Fi Hotspots For Calling Home
March 10, 2004

No land in sight, but GSM coverage everywhere
March 12, 2004

Cellular online, and other adventures in GSM
June 12, 2006

Thanks to a cruising communications scout
April 21, 2005



Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

2 Responses

  1. navnut says:

    Small world dept.:
    Dear Ben, We are an Australian Yacht, currently halfway through our circumnavigation (we left Australia in May 2004). While reading your web log we discovered your article written in the Bitter End Yacht Club – and guess where we are anchored right now? Off the Bitter End Yacht Club, BVI!
    We enjoy reading all your technical info as we like to keep up with the latest useful technology. We found AIS great in Europe but had trouble linking it into our old electronic charts (CMap CM93). We are currently using AIS through Sea Clear or Software on Board, which works fine, but we would prefer to have everything on one display in CMap/Max Sea. Any ideas? If you want to have a chat, give us a call on VHF 16 or email (we get intermettant WiFi)
    Enjoy your time in the British Virgin Islands,
    Graeme and Iris,
    Yacht ‘Pelagic’
    *******************
    So I’m about to see if I still know how to windsurf, and I’ll be looking for Pelagic. Is this Web 3.0 or what?? — Ben

  2. Mike O'Dell says:

    Man, it’s a hard life all over. Just try and convince us you’re “working”.
    If you weren’t such a sterling chap, we’d have to be hating you about now. (grin)
    Enjoy it enough for all of us!

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