On computers

Let me start by saying that computers have revolutionised sailing. With their help we can access levels of accurate weather forecasting undreamt of even 5 years ago. So, naturally enough part of  our  cruising plan was to get a sat phone and a modern computer and work them up in the same way that I installed and worked up the water maker, solar panels, wind vane, cruising main and the rest of the cruising kit. The phone was purchased months in advance (a mistake as I put it away in the box and 4 months later the battery had died before I even used it once!) and I set aside a couple of weeks to sort out the interface between the two systems.

Two weeks later I am much greyer and little wiser – but suffice to say that if it had been a car that I had bought, before driving it I would have had to put the wheels on, and then take them all off because it wouldnt work. A strong coffee would have helped me read the manual (written in Russian?), take  the wheels on and off again 4 times before discovering that it only runs if you take the spare wheel out of the boot and place it somewhere else. Finally, it would eventually deign to work , until I foolishly took a passenger over the age of 6 months causing it to have a hissy fit and stop. As the whole point of purchasing the car was to take passengers considerably over the age of 6 months I would then consult the supplier, who would patiently explain that the solution was to put sugar in the petrol tank after having first made a copy of the carburettor and ignition system as the “cure” might destroy the engine. The stiff whisky that was by now the only thing between me and insanity would  not interfere with my understanding of this seemingly dodgy manoevre because the supplier would be  conversing in Xhosa. I would probably then have to take those wheels off and on again!

I am of average intelligence and did not grow up with this technology, but two very intelligent and capable youngsters who did, were equally stuck! There have been plenty of other problems in this refit – but fixing them has been fun and informative with plenty of help available if required. The computer industry fails on all 3 parameters.
Its time to bin it and go sailing!

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