Tuesday, September 10, 2013


To some of us old hands, having the Internet at sea is a mixed blessing.  Not long ago we had little more than phone patch conversations through a volunteer radio operator in Florida (with eavesdroppers spread far and wide listening in).  Email? Spam? Dunning notices about overdue proposal reviews? Hah. We could legitimately say most things had to wait until we got back to port; no longer.  The office and complexities of life track us to here and distract our full attention from the job at hand, but they also keep us in touch with things of the heart and mind that matter back home.

There are practical limits to just how much Internet access can be maintained.  I'm composing this note on my laptop before the start of my 12-hr watch (Yair and I divide the 24-hr job of management and planning).  When done I'll use a browser to connect and then begin a lengthy wait to upload text and images to blogspot.com.  Blogging is designed with today's broad-band (i.e. high-speed) land-based access in mind; it's not a nimble way to contribute from sea for the simple reason that we on the Revelle, like anyone in the UNOLS fleet, are using shared access on the HighSeasNet satellite system.  This is made possible by the Ntl. Science Foundation and while appreciated, it's like any new and useful highway construction -- as soon as the concrete sets and the painted lines are dry it's packed with traffic.  At the moment we are 1 of 5 ships in the Pacific sharing this link to the Internet, and there's lots of traffic.  The team back at Scripps, and Ben Cohen the IT specialist here on the Revelle, do what they can to make this link accessible to everyone on board, but there's only so much 'bandwidth' that can be divided among the many users.  While it brings simple and often much desired text to us and sends it ashore, transferring large files or linking to sites that expect numerous and instantaneous back+forth exchanges are frustratingly slow or impossible.

We've been experimenting with ways to streamline the process of posting to this blog so that others onboard who want to contribute don't have to face these long and tedious upload delays.  Within a day or 2 we hope to have it worked out, and you ought to start seeing a variety of posts about the life and times aboard Revelle cruise 1313.  --- Greg Mountain