Written by Jen Finn
March 5-May 4, 2008 — Last year, after the computer that ran the Discovery's navigational software broke down for the last time, Mike vowed he would buy a real plotter; one with no hard drive, and just a few buttons to make the plotter do its limited number of features it was able to do. Everybody was happy with that plan.
After six years with the old computer, we were done with all the nonsense. It would always crap out and leave us wondering where we were. Of course, Roald always had his waypoints entered into the antique GPS that has never failed him, and we haven't forgotten how to use paper charts, so we were only inconvenienced buy its shortcomings.
But if you have a device that is supposed to show your location, one would assume it would be able to do the job, and if it couldn't it would be replaced with something that can do the job, right?
Wrong. Mike replaced it, but with another computer. For the person who gives a hoot, a computer is about the coolest piece of navigational equipment available. The thing is, nobody on this boat gives a hoot. We just want to turn it on and have it work. We are all afraid to touch this thing because the screen might switch to something we didn't ask for, requiring a small act of congress just to it back to where we had it.
All we want is a plotter that we can turn on, figure out how to work, and not have any problems. The new computer doesn't measure up in any of the three categories.
One time while fishing it freaked out and went into some funky repair mode. Since I am the designated computer technician, Roald called me up to fix it, and after feeding it a couple repair disks, which brought no repair, I grabbed the satellite phone and called the shop that sold us the thing. The shop didn't know how to fix it, so they gave us the number of Paris, the guy who built the monster.
It turns out it was a simple little issue — but since we didn't now what we were doing, it was a big problem to us. Besides, who wants to drop what they are doing and mess around with a computer for an hour?
I had just finished cooking dinner, but I never had chance to clean up before I was called to computer duty, so poor George had a big mess to clean up on his dish day (boo-hoo). We were lucky we even got it going because I called just before closing time on a weekend; another 20 minutes and we would have had to finish the trip without the plotter. The good news is now we have Paris' home number and can get a hold of him any time.
TO BE CONTINUED...
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