Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Digicel Quest

This post is somewhat about our search for a wifi solution, which of course is a hot topic if you are trying to post a blog; then I'll get to some more interesting updates.

A couple of years ago we purchased a Ubiquity Bullet that we used on Mowzer with varying degrees of success and very much dependent on the good will or naïveté of folks to allow us access their wifi network. Sometimes it cost a drink to get the wifi code from a bar, but even that adds up at tourist hangouts where drinks can get quite expensive (which is surprising given the previous post's picture on the cost of rum). Unfortunately when we were taking down our antenna last November, something came disconnected and I am not sure how repairable, and cost effective, it is. This time we decided to try the more commercial route since data SIM cards are becoming much more affordable and with the prevalence of cellular networks in this part of the Caribbean we wanted to give it a try. Thus began the quest for a Digicel outlet that could sell us such a beast.

I did a little research before leaving home and found out that there was a Digicel store somewhere just east of West End (Soper's Hole). We asked at one of the shops and the fellow advised us that it was a half hour walk, but knowing how little the locals like to walk (but they love to drive very fast on the windy roads) we thought, "How far can it be, we can walk that." Well walk it we did, at 1pm, in the hot sun, for a half hour - this guy knew his distances! Just past the Big Ben Grocery, there it was. However, this small outlet didn't carry the data card for an iPad. So, we headed into the grocery to find a cold drink and on our return walk, a very nice fellow in a brand new SUV gave us a ride back to West End. Funny how, even knowing how far we'd walked, it still seemed far on the road! Thank you to the local who took pity on the crazy cruisers in the mid-day sun.

Digicel Quest - part 2, Road Town. We landed in the store in Road Town where they got us all sorted out with a data SIM card and we are now connected. We picked out a nice 1GB prepaid card, good for 30 days for $27 with a $10 credit that covers the cost of the $10 card (funny how that works). We can now connect from just about anywhere in the BVI, with the curious exception of Norman Island (what happens at Willie T's or Pirates apparently stays there). Of course we're not continuously online since we now have some serious relaxing to do now that we have completed the Digicel Quest. Sum total covers about the cost of two drinks for each of us at bars for their local wifi so we figure we're well ahead at this point.

Ok, now for the fun stuff. We stopped off at The Indians for snorkeling in the morning and it was pretty good. Not the most abundant fish population but the reef structure was pretty interesting to swim over. After finishing up there we had a most perfect sail over to Road Town; 10-15 knots of wind, flat seas and a close reach at 5-7 knots. After we finished up our errands in town we headed out again and had another similar great sail over to Haulovers on Cooper Island. The Beach Club was packed with boats and we sailed right on by, accompanied by two dolphins (where was my camera!) and we settled down the anchor in the same place that we stopped here last year. As we went out to snorkel the anchor the dolphins gave us another swim-by making this a perfect stopping place for the night. The evening games ensued watching a few other boats trying to find a spot in the swirly winds up against the cliff face and when all was done there were about five boats settled in for the night.

Just a few photos from The Indians. I am experimenting with the GoPro underwater.