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Beer trumps satellite comms on the Ionian Sea

Well, the Cook has a black belt

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The next day, the sun rose and the alka-selzter fizzed.

Today, we sailed far and fast, and arrived at our destination on time. And the destination is Sami.

Sami is not a quaint antique town. It's a modern ferry terminal, expanded rapidly after the 1953 earthquake destroyed the rival harbour further up the coast. And it has berths for twenty or so full size yachts, and as you'd expect, a breakwater to shelter them from the open sea.

Did you ever study breakwaters? They're very simple. Waves come roaring in from the ocean, hit the breakwater, and collapse into foam. The opposite side, the water is smooth and calm, and you can tie up your boat and sleep. So the designers of Sami's breakwater designed it to let the water through underneath. It has about a dozen big arches which let the sea through. OK, a really really big wave will be reduced to a small swell. So your boat won't sink, but it will bob around like a crazy cork.

"Dang," I thought (or words to that effect) "I certainly won't be able to use the Inmarsat terminal tonight!"

Here's the problem: the satellite is small, and can only detect my transmissions from the satellite terminal when it sees them. So I have to point the BGAN device at it, very carefully.

To make this possible, the BGAN modem has a compass on it, and an elevation indicator, and also it goes beep. You line the thing up until it points where you think it ought to point, and it starts beeping, and the faster the beeping, the closer you are to your target.

Fine: now do that on a boat which is bobbing around on the waves like a featherweight boxer dodging a mismatched heavyweight. But you probably don't have a spare boat or pair of boxers, so to share in this experience, I'd like you to point a torch at the moon, and see what difference it makes to how bright it is. Oh, you have to stand on a pogostick while you do this.

In fact the idea seemed so absurd that I didn't try at first. But after a good dinner at "the oldest restaurant in Sami" - actually, a superb dinner! - I felt that I had, at least, to give Inmarsat the chance.

So here I am, sitting on deck in the dark, and the boat is swaying from side to side like a metronome. And the Inmarsat signal?

Steady as a rock. I will admit, I was impressed. ®

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