Details From The Turbocation: All TurboTech, All The Time
Greetings from Bonefish Cay in the south Atlantic. Think Nassau, Bahamas, fly NNW on a prop plane for an hour, land in Marsh Harbour, then take about a 10-minute boat ride.
I’m staying with old friends, and I won’t rub in how remote and islandy this place is. I came down for a week to visit, do a little scuba diving, maybe play a little golf, and generally speaking, just chill out.
But the winds haven’t exactly been cooperating — it’s been averaging 14-20MPH gusts since I arrived, and the temp has been in the low-to-mid 70s, so despite one trip into the water to search for some conch for dinner, we’ve mostly stayed out of the water.
Speaking of water, the island has to produce its own fresh water, so I got my first ever gander at a desalination system. The primary device is an SK HC 5,000 desalinizer, which produces 5,000 gallons of fresh water from sea water per day. That averages out to around 210 gallons per hour.
The primary power source here is a Northern Lights 125KW diesel generator, which sends current out to 4 different inverted battery banks, to several houses located here on the island.
The Internet access here is provided by HughesNet, so as not to be completely cut off from the world. Hey, just because I’m on vacation doesn’t mean I completely gave up my ability to communicate with other humans! And anyhow, how was I going to post all those cool pics on Facebook if I didn’t have some form of Interwebs!
So here’s how this Hughes thing works: You send a request from a Web page that the Hughes satellite dish devices sends to a satellite that’s situated about 22,000 miles up in space.
According to Hughes, at that altitude, the satellite’s period of rotation (24 hours) matches the earth’s, and the satellite always remains in the same spot over the earth. Because Internet via satellite is now so technologically advanced, this distance hardly makes a difference, even with rural Internet connections.
Next, the satellite contacts the Hughes Network Operations Center (NOC), which locates the specific Website you have requested.
Finally, the Website beams the information back along the same path to the NOC, then to the satellite, and then to your computer through the HughesNet dish and modem.
What I’ve discovered is that even though the signal travels a great distance — when’s the last time you travelled 22,000 miles in a millisecond or two — there’s only a fraction of a second delay during the transmission.
Not unlike the delay you may have experienced when you using a cell phone.
And anyhow, you’re on an island, you shouldn’t be surfing the Internet anyhow. And if you are, you should at least have a glass of rum and coke next to your computer.
Me, I’ve never had to lean on a satellite dish for Internet access for so long, but so far I’m sold…and hey, it beats sitting around talking to a volleyball named Wilson.
If you want to have a quick Walter Mitty moment, check out my takeoff from Nassau airport. This was in a 9 passenger Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander, which has a top speed of 170MPH and a range of 874 miles.
And it’s really, really loud. Just how I like my prop planes while on vacation.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make sure the Dish network is ready to deliver up the Dallas Cowboys/Arizona Cardinals game. It’s now windy AND raining on the island — oh thank heaven for high technology.