The current issue of PBO contains a discussion of the problems associated with getting good connection between Pc – gsm phone – Internet Service Provider – Telephone Network . This is a real jungle. Each of the items must be compatible with the other, but there are notebook PCs which will not connect to mobile phones and some ISPs are not supported by certain networks. There are lots of frustrated and disappointed PC/phone owners out here and we have wasted many hours this trip trying to sort out other boats’ problems before concluding that most of them are due to insufficient research before leaving UK.

Before you part with ‘1000 , the best advice remains to deal with somebody face to face and get them to demonstrate connectivity in the shop. Also ask plenty of people questions about overseas networks and their ability to handle data from you ISP. Many ‘free’ ISPs will only work if you dial into them via UK. Expensive if you are in France or Spain.

This posting and pictures are transmitted by Toshiba Satellite 4090CDS and a Nokia 6310 (chosen because it has a modem built in and that avoids many glitches) via the French Itineris network and AOL running at 19200bps. This submission will cost me about ‘1.00 to get up on the website. There are obviously other possibilities and my only brief for this set up is that it works.

Most overseas networks have UK offices, so you can ask about email and data abroad. Some of them now even sell SIM cards (giving you a French number) or you can talk to the Carphone Warehouse whom, I understand, now deal in certain SIMs.

If you are coming through the canals using the Guide Vagnon, beware that there is a map error for Castelnaudary. It shows the recommended channel passing inside the island in the main basin. Several yachts have grounded there and had huge problems getting off again. The correct route goes from the Bridge (near the Police Nationale Building) straight down to the bridge alongside the lock.

We have kept detailed notes on every lock from Atlantic to Med ie, where there are ladders inside the lock, which side, any peculiarities and eddies, the location of deep water quays, supermarkets, launderettes, water points, whether the lock has been automated, on which side is the control box, plus advice on mast handling, lock operation etc etc. We plan to put this together as a very detailed guide covering each lock and the stretch in between.

The guide should be ready in late October. If anybody has any comment to make about what should be included, or wishes to know how to obtain a copy (Price TBA) we have an email address midicruise2001@aol.com

Most crews manage to stow the masts on deck and to get them through without problems but, if you have a big overhang, shipping by road is obviously attractive as long as you avoid the ‘600 rip-off merchants. Last week, we spoke to a skipper who made enquiries at Royan and was quoted 3 prices by 3 different firms (‘118 – ‘620) and chose the lowest to ship his long stick to Cap d’Agde. It arrived without problem. Sete would not accept the mast. Mast lowering and lorry loading was ‘25.00.

We get a lot of fun from a combination of amateur radio (Callsign G4HHU) and cruising, as well as plenty of useful information. The latest was to hook up again here in Cap d’Agde with Dave Peacock (G3NOP) and wife Suzie, whom we had first met in North Spain almost exactly 10 years ago. We shall maintain the radio contacts and hope to shorten the time until the next eyeball. If you have a receiver with single sideband (ssb) you can follow many of the yachts in The Med and in Portugal and even the West Indies, by listening on 14.303Mhz at 0800gmt or 1800 gmt. The morning controller is Bill Hall (G4FRN) who operates from Cobham and is a super source of weather forecasts for most areas.

There are a number of small Sony receivers which will work fine and most big radio companies have what are called genera