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Let’s Get Technical: Getting the News While Cruising

I live aboard and sail my boat, Lady Pauline, full time. Last year, I left home base in the Chesapeake Bay to see the world in this trusty little yacht and am now in the Grenada, hunkered down for the hurricane season like so many others. Before I made sailing my life, I was a professional techno geek, but it didn’t just end with my profession—I enjoyed new gadgets and gizmos for fun outside of work. These days on our boats we find ourselves surrounded by new and improving technology as well.

While the prudent cruiser would never rely fully on his gadgets, they sure do make our lives easier. Well, most of the time, that is. Sometimes it can be difficult to figure out how to use them—or they just stop working. Other times, the technology advances quickly, new things become available, and it’s hard to keep up.

So that’s where I come in. This monthly column is going to focus on all things technical relating to boats, from electronics to sail control to the latest way to get better wifi signals from your boat. I hope it will help you get more out of the gear you already have and keep you abreast of what’s new. I welcome your suggestions about what you may have been wondering about, so drop me an email anytime care of editor@allatsea.net.

Getting the News While Cruising

Before I set off cruising I was one of those people who stayed up to date on every current event, a real wonk. So when I took off cruising, I felt more out of touch than I liked. I knew many news agencies broadcast on shortwave so I looked into finding out who did and how to receive them.

Many cruising boats carry SSB or HAM radio, or those who do not usually carry a short wave receiver to get weather and listen to the nets. This same equipment you can use to keep up to date with the news.

The easiest broadcasts to receive are those of the BBC, but you can also listen to Voice of America and American Forces Network which both carry some NPR and AP programming. Unfortunately, this year BBC decided to cut out a lot of its broadcasts targeting Central America, so we now have fewer frequencies and times we can hear them—but it’s still very good. Here’s a chart listing the frequencies I have been using with success here in the Caribbean; spend a little time using an internet search engine and you can find many more to experiment with for receiving news and music from all over the world.

Keep in mind that, like SSB transmission, reception is subject to propagation conditions, so if you do not receive a broadcast, then try at a different time of day or a different frequency.

Broadcaster Frequencies(kHz) Time (UTC)

BBC
11,864.0 11:00 to 13:00
15,390.0 21:00 to 22:00
5,975.0 22:00 to 23:00

American Forces
12133.5 All Day

Network
5446.5 All Day

Voice of America
5890.0 00:30 to 01:00
7405.0 01:30 to 02:00
9775.0 01:30 to 02:00
11675.0 21:00 to 21:30
13740.0 01:30 to 02:00

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