sailing vessel Sänna

Blogs from our sailing vessel Sänna. Eastwards from England to New Zealand... & sailing circumnavigation.

25 June 2021 | England, running from the virus.
30 April 2021 | Lockdown in England
14 April 2021 | Lockdown - Nottingham, England
31 March 2021 | Winterton-on-Sea, Norfolk, England
09 March 2021 | Vista Mar, Panama
17 February 2021 | Sherwood, Nottingham, England
07 February 2021 | Sherwood, England
28 January 2021 | In national lockdown, Nottingham, England
28 December 2020 | Nottingham, England
20 October 2020 | Vista Mar, Panama
23 April 2020 | Vista Mar, Panama
08 March 2020 | Boca Chica, Panama
25 February 2020 | Curu Wildlife Refuge, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
17 February 2020 | Bahiá Ballena, Costa Rica
17 January 2020 | Marina Papagayo, Costa Rica
16 December 2019 | Playa Del Coco, Costa Rica
11 December 2019 | San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua
28 November 2019 | Puesta Del Sol, Nicaragua
08 November 2019 | Amapala, Honduras

The Curious Phenomenon of Facebook Sailors

27 April 2021 | England
Dave Ungless | Lockdown Blogs
Photo: Join the WhatsApp Viking Funeral group...

When we left the Mediterranean back in 2007 to begin our unplanned circumnavigation, we found the Red Sea about as remote as anything we could then imagine. Of course, GPS and plotters had long replaced our reliance upon paper charts, old-fashioned dead-reckoning and my dust-covered sextant were distant memories I had to read up to remember. These new wonders of electronic science have changed everything. With GPS, sailing suddenly became a safer way of life in terms of knowing where we were - rather than a guesstimate of where we might be within a five mile radius. But the glories of onboard internet and data was still a far off dream.

Communications at that time had not changed much in thirty years. We still relied upon our short range VHF radio, our sometimes temperamental SSB long-range radio and the even more unreliable satellite phone system - iridium at that time had gone bust. Email was, on land, well established but only back home or whenever we could find an internet cafe... which in the Red Sea countries of Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea and Yemen were mostly nonexistent. We had our little flip-phones which could allegedly 'roam' but again, in these remote countries this option did not exist, we still sent postcards home by Airmail telling everyone we were safe and well. We loved it, we were living by our wits and own endeavours, it was the ultimate dropout adventure, we really were off-grid.

Once we reached the more western-tourist ridden ports of southeast Asia we were able to roam our mobile phones (cellphones) more easily, we discovered for the first time the excitement of buying a local SIM - no longer did we experience the horrendous international call charges of Vodafone. But still the offering of mass data browsing on your hand device was science-fiction talk of the tech savvy and those bottle-rimmed glasses types. Only when we sailed into El Nido up on the Philippine island of Palawan did we first come across this strange powerhouse called Facebook. In El Nido, electricity was a joy to be had only a split nine hours per day, and when power was restored in the early evenings there was a huge young-backpacker rush for the internet cafes - it was fascinating to watch these young travellers scramble over each other to get to a screen and keyboard. Upon further enquiries, I was told these intrepid one year thrill-seekers were anxious to get their photos and travelling stories uploaded to Facebook.

2012 found us in New Zealand, by now we had mastered the rudiments of smartphones and finding pathetic monthly data deals of maybe five-hundred megabytes - but we could at least download our emails and basic weather. Even in Alaska in 2014, we prided ourselves in discovering wonderful AT&T monthly data deals that meant we could get detailed weather forecasts instantly onboard, we could download our emails and indulge in amazing internet browsing until just beyond the middle of the month when our data package was all used up. By comparison, British Columbia was a retrograde step backward into the proverbial data dark-ages with Telus, but once down on the west coast of the US the world of hand-held data just opened up. But only when we headed south to cross the US-Mexican sea border did we really discover the whole fascinating world of Facebook and WhatsApp sailing.

I'm not sure if we were behind the times, but never did we realise that living off-grid was so much simpler with wall-to-wall internet. Of course, we thought ourselves entirely self-sufficient with our solar panels, wind generator and watermaker - we could power our electronics and shower till our hearts content - so much removed from my early days of subsistence sailing when water onboard was rationed and we used seawater to cook and wash dishes. But sailing nowadays has undoubtedly followed the onshore route of frantic social media communities which, to me, shakes the foundations of why we choose to live this life of freedom from mainstream living. It's a curious phenomenon, no doubt there's those of you out there who'll say it's the way the world has changed and get used to it. Right now, where we are in Panama, we're surrounded by an English language Facebook and WhatsApp group for everything. A good German friend of ours, who sails a trimaran solo, calls these self formed communities 'Facebook Sailors' which is a description I myself have taken up using whilst I try to understand exactly what is happening to our hallowed world of blue-water sailing. To me, long-distance sailing is about making your own way, exploring what you find and learning, living off your wits in strange countries - not banding together in English-speaking communities that aren't unlike the black & white olden days of the British Empire. There are now growing numbers of financially comfortable westerners who have abandoned their possessions and sold their homes, they've purchased their dream with canvas sails, they've waved goodbye to friends and family on the dockside to sail off into the dreamlike sunset - to then join the local sailing social-media WhatsApp and Facebook group. I'm not commenting either way - I'm just saying, this is how off-grid living is these days.

Of course, this is not is not just a sailing phenomenon. It's a worldwide social mega-change well anticipated by the Zuckerburg's of this world, who are now self-made billionaires in the process. The old greybeard grey-heads like me, with their sextants and leather-banded pony-tails, are still to be found lurking in secluded and little-known anchorages... they themselves know a thing or two about survival sailing. But they will soon be gone, their rusting sailing hulks left to sink and founder, creating little reefs of marine life splendour in their memory.

If only we ageing mariners could be set afloat in that old Viking manner, our vessels set alight and gently pushed out to sea to burn our bent decrepit bodies. But, no doubt, in fact without any shadow of doubt, some new-generation sailor would record it on their smartphone then post it on the Viking Burial Facebook group - which would then be shared on the WhatsApp Remember Those Good Old Sailing Days group. God forbid, my own Viking burning is posted on that new-generational SnapChat thing which, I'm told, self-delete after five seconds or so.

Of course, this social-media blog and our Sänna Facebook page, they're both programmed to self-delete on the 23rd June of... so hurry, join this group I've created on WhatsApp, it's called 'If you wanna be buried like a Viking' group.

My good wife Marie, she's standing here next to me right now, she has a box of old fashioned matches she found free on Facebook. And how to burn a moaning old goat sailor is all there on YouTube...
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Please visit our SV Sänna website for more details of our circumnavigation voyage from the UK. Also at www.facebook.com/SV.Sanna. Like our Facebook page if you'd like to receive more news about our sail adventure. You can contact us here.

Read more about the mishaps and mayhem of Nellie, The Ship's Cat
Vessel Name: Sänna
Vessel Make/Model: Ocean 50 (Bavaria)
Hailing Port: Poole UK
Crew: Dave & Marie Ungless
About:
We have sailed together for over ten years now, leaving the Mediterranean to head eastwards. Our destination was Australia and New Zealand which we achieved in 2012 before attempting a full round-the-world circumnavigation across the pacific and back to the UK. [...]
Extra: Sänna is a hybrid Bavaria Ocean 50, custom built for bue water ocean cruising. The build and re-fit specification is high and to date boasts over 56,000 miles of ocean cruising. For more information visit our main website at www.sanna-uk.com.
Home Page: http://www.sanna-uk.com
Social:
Sänna's Photos - Main
56 Photos
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Starting out
6 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 8 November 2009
11 Photos
Created 8 November 2009
www.sanna-uk.com