CAPTAINS LOG | JUNE 2012

Cold iTurkey • In April, Rosa and I had the chance to get away to the Exumas in the central Bahamas for a couple of weeks of cruising aboard our 45-foot sloop Lime’n. This was the first time we had been back to the Exumas in more than 20 years, so we were excited to find that the islands, reefs and villages were as charming and unspoiled as ever.

That said, we were equally amazed at the proliferation of mega motor yachts in the shallow waters of the Exumas, where the depth is rarely more than 20 feet on the banks and anchorages often have fewer than eight feet of water at low tide. The mega yachts come with a stable of smaller play boats, so we were harassed regularly by high speed jet skis and 40 knot inflatables. Oh well. Natural selection tends to take care of the worst offenders.

These behemoths tend to congregate near communities that have phone and email service that is spotty at best. There are Batelco towers here and there, but the signal range for these is line-of-sight—if you can’t see the tower, you can’t make a call. And Internet service is even sketchier. There are a few fee-based hot spots, but you need a Wi-Fi booster antenna to get service.

Due to the press of mega yachts near communications facilities, we spent our time exploring the remoter regions of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park, which meant we were without phone or Internet service for most of two weeks. This should not have been a problem since we are old enough to have lived most of our lives without cell phones and the Internet, and we have also lived aboard for years at a time with no communication beyond SSB radio.

But it was. For me. Not for Rosa. I had no idea how addicted I had become to the Internet and smartphone service. Without a connection, I started suffering from IT DTs. No wonder the mega yachts were so festooned with huge satellite communications domes and anchored near the phone towers! I get it. Being unplugged hurts.

I knew it was wrong to be so bummed out about being disconnected in one of the world’s finest cruising grounds, far from the madding “cloud.” Rosie kept urging me to relax. Trouble is, having moved so many regular life functions onto the web and being accustomed to staying in touch with friends, family, the BWS staff and vendors on a regular basis whether in the office or away, I was definitely cut off. I started to feel the effect of going Cold iTurkey.

After 10 days, we found our way to the north anchorage at Warderick Wells, where the park offers Wi-Fi for $10 per day (if you can receive it). With some anticipation, we fired up the laptop and logged in. What a disappointment. There were no urgent messages, no calls to action, no bleats for help from the office—not even messages from the kids. But there were 778 new emails in my inbox, 700 of which were the standard flurry of press releases, vendor newsletters, bank statements, travel advisories and the like. Plus consumer spam from around the planet. This is what I had been missing?

After half an hour, I shut down the laptop and put it away. As usual, Rosie was right. And it was a whole lot easier going Cold iTurkey the second week—life without the Internet is indeed very relaxing.

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