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Where is Murre?

April 18, 2011

Good Bye SPOT, Hello YOTREPS

Family and a few friends were kind enough to gift me a tracking device, SPOT, for my cruise south, a device that has allowed me to send ad hoc position reports to important people (the wife, the mother, the sister) and to attach photos and stories to these reports on the SPOT ADVENTURES site.

But SPOT’s coverage is not global. Even when Murre was bound from Mexico to Hawaii, there was likely going to be a middle period during which position reports were not possible. Now that the heading is decidedly south, SPOT will fail even sooner.

SPOT is not a passage maker’s solution.

Luckily there is an alternative, which goes by the acronym YOTREPS (I presume this means Yacht Offshore Transit Reports, but the site chooses not to explain). YOTREPS is a free service that displays participating yacht positions in a familiar map format in exchange for regular wind, sea, sky, barometric and temperature data from the yacht, data that is used to help verify and refine oceanic weather forecasting.

When not in a marina and thus beyond the reach of WIFI, Murre uses single sideband radio to communicate with shore. This technology allows voice communication with stations at great distance. Murre has heard news from China, game shows from Australia and has spoken with Oregon and El Salvador. When connected to a very slow and very loud modem on board, a modem I’ve attempted to quiet by sandwiching it on the bookshelf between Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing and Pablo Martinez’s “only true and accurate” History of Lower California, the radio allows me to send and receive simple, all-text emails via a network of global receiver stations managed by Sailmail.  And this is how I will tell YOTREPS, and you, where Murre is today.


The menu tab of this blog contains a header entitled Where is Murre? that links directly to Murre’s most recent position report.  Feel free to visit here as often as you like.

For those interested in exploring Yotreps or finding other boats in transit, start with the YOTREPS Reporting Boat List.   Boats are recorded here by name and YOTREPS ID number but are sorted by the ID number. Murre’s YOTREPS ID (her single sideband call sign) is WDF6383, so she‘s near the bottom of the list.  Click on the hyperlinked word “track” to be taken to position maps.  If you’d like more information, you can download the YOTREPS Reporter, which allows you to plot Murre’s position on a chart with the wind and sea state data I report. 

Though this is all new to me too, getting reports appears to be straightforward, more so, at least, than my reporting of them, which requires that I divide the sky into oktas (eighths)  in order to “count” cloud density, convert Fahrenheit to Celsius and think of wave height in meters.

Other Ways of Staying in Contact

Again, using the single sideband radio to transmit email and with a little luck I should be able to continue posting to this blog during passages.  So be sure to sign up for the feed.

Important Disclaimer 

For your own peace of mind DO NOT assume that my failure to post positions during a passage means that Murre or Randall are in trouble.  A number of things could be preventing me from reaching out: the computer fails, the radio fails, the sun is in the wrong position, land based stations aren’t taking my traffic, my batteries are dead, I’m too busy managing the ship, etc.  Though important, this communication mechanism is a luxury and will always be secondary to keeping Murre safe and on course.

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