Feb 28

SPOT tracking

Tag: navigation,preparation,routemattholmes @ 3:28 pm

The AIS tracking feature has been a big hit as we’ve travelled down the coast of california, especially with concerned family.  However, once we leave the country we will be out of range of the shore-based AIS stations, and we won’t show up on the map except maybe in very popular international ports.

At the request of family and friends, we purchased a SPOT tracking device.  It cost $50 (after mail-in rebate), plus a $100/year subscription fee.  For our purposes, each time we press the “check in/ok” button on this little jobby, it communicates our position to one of their satellites, and then it shows up as a pin on our SPOT map, which I added to the sidebar and also to our “Current Location” page (a bigger version).  We plan on pressing the button about once a day; that will be our daily position report.  Supposedly it will have coverage in MOST places, including the coast of Mexico.  However! Important note that THE SPOT WILL NOT SHOW OUR POSITION WHILE WE CROSS THE PACIFIC, SO DON’T WORRY!

I have mixed feelings about this SPOT jobby.  The box it came in was hugely wasteful, with extra stupid pieces of cardboard, the website interface to get it working is terrible, their widget that I put up on our site messed everything up until I did some extra html coding, and even using the damn thing is extremely counter-intuitive.  It’s hard to tell when you’ve successfully turned it on, turned it off, or sent a signal, which is not so cool when you’re out in the middle of the ocean trying to figure out whether it worked to upload a checkpoint or not.  I anticipate it to be buggy, so mom please don’t worry if it malfunctions on us and you stop getting position reports.

So, to be clear: the lack of a daily check/in is not a cause for concern.  It probably means that we’re either having too much fun and forgot to press the button, or else that the piece-of-crap thing busted on us and is no longer working.

(fyi, the pins that you see on land in San Diego are a result of my initial testing right after we bought the SPOT, on foot and by bus; we left the boat in the marina)

3 Responses to “SPOT tracking”

  1. bruce says:

    do you have email capabilty via SSB and SailMail?

  2. Gary says:

    Looks like the Spot is no longer working… or the widget crapped out.

  3. Jonathon Haradon says:

    Hey Gary,

    Every once in a while it does something screwy; it can’t connect to the server or something. I think it’s back up and running though, as of 2:30 pm MT time today. shoot another reply or an e-mail if it’s still not working for you and we can try and troubleshoot.


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