Saturday, 18 August 2012

In praise of the internet

In most marinas wi-fi access is part of your mooring fee and many cafes also offer this service so being able to log on and connect can be quite simple.  Even a few years ago this for most of us was unimaginable as we tapped away at our word processors and cursed when someone pulled the plug out by mistake losing half an essay and several days work. For those like Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who sailed single handed around the world with no method of communication we have a great admiration. For some, one of the pleasures of cruising is the ability to get away from the constant demands of mobiles/blackberries and email and admittedly we have no need to be constantly connected we often just text our families to let them know we are safe and wait until internet is next available.

Most important for us is weather forecasts. These help us to plan not only when a trip would be safe to make but also predicting weather in harbour makes a difference to how we are tied to the land and even what preparations we need to make for the boat overnight or whether we can leave her during the day unattended. Although other forms of weather information can be found the internet provides the most detailed reports.

 We also use the internet in other ways, keeping in touch with family and friends (old and new) and being able to share both our adventures and other people’s lives is important to us. Through e-mail, blogs, Facebook and Skype we have many ways of ‘talking’ to different people.

 We use the internet quite a bit for school work - for researching interesting things, for lesson planning, sharing ideas with other home schoolers and teachers and we also use some of the games on BBC bitesize and other great websites to give some variety in learning (and of course IT skills). 

Google translate has been really useful for those times when school French just does not cover it – a letter explaining a child’s opthamological history or technical discussions regarding wood properties and even one time a thank you note for a new friend who had been so helpful.

It’s even possible to keep up to date professionally with access to online journals and to upload CPD direct to the institute for learning (which is the professional body for those who teach in further education). With the sailing forums, being able to order things on line, even looking up the local bus time table so much is available now so easily. When we saw the inventor of the internet being celebrated at the opening ceremony of the Olympics we gave him a big cheer, without him, this would be a very different experience.

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