Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Aaargh! This is very frustrating. Our hosting company, vip-hosting.com is having serious problems with their email server. I actually talked to a real person yesterday morning and he thought it might have been because they were overwhelmed with spam and that the admin would have it straightened out in 15 minutes... Well, 20 hours later it is still down.

I called again yesterday afternoon and the woman was trying to get all my personal details which I didn't give as I just wanted to know the status of the email problem. She was not aware that there was a problem. She was based in the Philippines... I can't believe that they are trying to farm out the support overseas again. They did this a few years ago and I had major problems getting any service and started to look elsewhere.

I just called again this morning and they are not taking calls, just voicemail. Don't blame them as probably ALL of their customers are calling them.

They no longer have a notice concerning the email problem on their website so I thought it had been solved. Nope. If you go to network status on their support page http://www.vip-hosting.com/support/network_status.php , it shows a red light on POP and SMTP.


Monday, November 19, 2007

WIFI in St. Thomas, USVI

We are currently anchored in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands in Long Bay just off the green Legislature Building near the US Coast Guard dock.

We arrived on Thursday just after midnight about 10 days ago to attend the VICL Charter Yacht Show. We hooked up our equipment to see what WiFi was available. BBW was the strongest signal followed by Choice HotSpot. We didn't have time to mess with it then and we went to bed early that night, but we checked signals and they were still good.

Friday morning we decided to subscribe to Choice as they are the providers of wireless TV and they are ISPs (used to be viaccess.net which should have sent out danger signals). Choice said that they have many hotspots so that would be handy when we change our anchorage. So, we got their signup page, gave them our credit card info and signed up online. After signing up, I tried accessing the internet. zip! I did manage to log into our wifi account to see if they gave us the correctly alloted time of one week for $25 and we were unable to do anything else. I had a partially loaded weather page and that was about it. We went to the boat show and planned to check our email back on the boat at lunchtime. We spoke to many charter yachts who also were having poor service (or lack of) and were not able to reach support. They also complained about Choice is in general.... No further internet access that day.

Saturday morning was the same. We decided to try BBW (Beans Bytes and Websites) hotspot as they are an internet cafe located on the waterfront at the Royal Dane Mall. They still had the strongest signal and since we planned to be "downtown" anchored in the same spot we decided to sign up with them for a week. You cannot register online, so we took the dinghy ashore and went into the coffee shop. I told the guy about our bad luck with Choice and even though they are NOT affiliated with Choice, he gave me a $5 discount as an apology. Amazing!

I believe BBW associates your subscription with your computer's MAC address, so be sure to initially log in with the computer you intend to use. You cannot use the same account with more than one computer. Our signal is picked up by our external bridge which is connected to our Router/ Access Point and then we access that signal with both of our MacBooks with our Airport cards. If we have a couple of leftover days on our account we cannot give it to another boat, which is too bad but so it goes...

We have had excellent service with BBW (a few slow periods but so much better than our SXM experience). We are still at anchor in Long Bay in a slightly different spot as the USCG had us move because the Disney cruise ship anchored but another boat then took our spot so why did we have to move??? so it goes...

Anyway, we have signed up for a second week, even though we hope to up anchor and sail over to Christmas Cove on Wednesday to have dinner with Marolanga and meet Sasha, their Persian cat. It will be so nice to go swimming. We'll probably also be testing our windvane self-steering gear on the way.

Oh yes, almost forgot. We signed up with Choice on Friday so we waited until Monday to call to discontinue service as we didn't expect any results over the weekend. I told the lady that I wanted a refund as we did not and could not use their WiFi and she gave me to support where I was on hold for so long that I had to leave a voice mail. Well, nothing became of the voice mail and I sent an email, and another, etc. By Wedneday, I said in an email that I would come to their office to get my refund. They actually answered my message and said that they would refund the unused portion of my subscription. I told them that I expected a full refund of $25 as I did not use them for the week. The next day they wrote back to say that they had refunded my credit card $24.15... Can you believe it? They kept 85 cents :)

So, in my opinion, do not choose Choice...

and thanks for your patience with my rant :)

Evening aboard Hanalei Bay in St. Thomas, USVI

Last night we had a wonderful evening aboard the charter yacht, Hanalei Bay, while we are still in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.

We had a simple, but SUPERB, meal of pork stew with sides of rice, potatoes, and mixed vegetables. Diane made a wonderful chocolate cake that I have been longing for... perfect!

Thanks guys, for having us over. It's always great to see you!

By the way... if you are interested in chartering, or perhaps know of someone who would like to charter a yacht...

Hanalei Bay is currently available for Christmas 2007!
or how about spring break with the family?

View Hanalei Bay's brochure: CLICK HERE

Contact Paradise Connections: CLICK HERE

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

We are in the Virgin Islands

Howdy! We sailed over to the Virgin Islands to attend two charter yacht shows. The first one was at Village Cay, Tortola and the second one at the new Yacht Haven Grande Marina, St. Thomas.

We were delayed leaving St. Maarten because we decided to replace the crappy Forespar winch we had for our roller furling jib with a small Harken. We bought a pair of the small Forespar winches to control our boom brake on the port side, and the furling jib on the starboard side. Shortly after installing them they both froze up. You could get the drum to turn a bit if you were highly motivated and stressed, and saying some magic words. It says not to lubricate. Bob has taken them apart but there are not any noticible defects. It was well worth delaying our passage by a day to buy & install the Harken as it works properly and it is now easy to reef in the jib.

Then we were delayed another day because we had to patch the dinghy... 'nuf said about that :)

There was not much wind a few miles after leaving St. Maarten and it was directly behind us. We arrived around 5pm at Baugher's Bay at the opening to Roadtown harbor on Tortola and took Promenade's mooring (Thanks, guys!). We had to take the dinghy off the deck, mount the motor, and get our papers together but we were very pleased that we made it over to Customs & Immigration by 5:30pm. We found out that overtime rates begin at 4:30pm and we were told that Sunday costs double for Immigration (not sure about Customs). I think we paid about $28 to clear in.

We went to the show the next morning and started our day with Yes Dear who had invited us for breakfast (very good!). Even though it was the last day of the show, we saw all of the boats that we had planned to see. Oh yes, except for one big cat that was too busy to see us and after finishing the can of Coke they had left us with in the cockpit we decided to go see other boats. Never got back to them since they were at the end of the dock. We'll probably go aboard at the Antigua show.

The next morning we left for St. Thomas whose show was to begin the following day. There was just a breath of wind as we left Roadtown and zip wind later. We did reef down once (hurray new winch!) as we had a short squall followed by no wind. You know the type where you spin in a circle? Well, at least the current was going the right direction :) We decided to turn on the electric motor and after about 2 minutes we felt a light kiss of a breeze on our cheeks and switched it off. Our CAL-34 is really impressive that it can sail in such light winds... our charter friends with their big 52-72 footers can take quite a bit to get moving. AND I must say that Bob did an excellent job of keeping a steady and proper course in such conditions as well.

We arrived in Long Bay, St. Thomas just after midnight and even before we put the anchor down we were greeted with the sound of a gunshot... welcome back!