A company called PetroCom apparently has the monopoly out here, and coverage is actually pretty good. Except when we’re sitting right under a huge communications tower, as at this moment, when we have no service whatsoever.
Even when I can send and receive texts, picture mail is out, as is any other sort of data usage. When I hired-on, I was told that electronic logs are coming to our boats soon, and with them we would have e-mail. That would be nice.
We do have a satellite phone, but it only dials and receives calls to our office and answering service. Good in an emergency, but not much help finding out how the kids are doing.
One of our captains brought his own Sirius receiver to the boat, where it stays, so we can pick up radio news and sports and Channel 60 – “Outlaw Country” – out of Austin. That station plays a lot of Texas music – everything from Guy Clark to Gurf Morlix.
We get our weather either through NOAA Weather Radio when in range, or through our Navtex (weatherfax) system. Neither is optimal, and we’re collectively bargaining for a TracVision installation (so we can keep an eye on the weather, natch).
Some time ago the company offered to pay for the equipment if the crew would foot the monthly bill. It would come to about $100, split six ways. Sounds worth it to me.