Even few years ago an amateur sailor would have been able to keep friends and family informed only by means of sparse letters or phone calls when in port, or maybe by means of expensive phone calls routed via the on-board SSB radio.
The advent of the Internet, as well as the advances of telecommunication technologies, has changed all this.
Nowadays even a non-technical user can set-up and update a web-site or a blog, as well as post photos on-line, and at least part of these activities can even be performed from a boat at sea!
At the time of our departure, we had a rather mixed strategy due to subsequent decisions which were forced by conflicting requirements: initially we created a bi-lingual web-site (in Italian and English), addressed via a registered, easily remembered domain name ( www.shaula3.ws ).
Before the departure, we even prepared the pages with links to the photos and texts we were planning to add during the voyage.
Just few days before departure, we opened two blogs (again one in Italian and one in English) where we planned to post short accounts of our trip: an obvious duplication of what we were planning to do on the web-site, an afterthought initially meant to allow the use of the blog’s RSS-feed functionality from the french OVNI-owner’s club website, as specifically asked by them.
A feature of the blog, which later turned out to be a life-saver, was the ability to update it by means of simple e-mail messages. Even when on passage, it was easy to find a quiet moment to write down a short report of the day and then send it during the daily e-mail session needed to receive meteo forecasts.
Very soon, we adopted the blog as our main system.
On the contrary, updating the web site soon turned out to be an almost impossible task: updating the site required an FTP connection (not always allowed) over a fast and reliable connection, a luxury that we very seldom found available during the voyage. Nothing is more frustrating than wasting hours for a job that at home would have required only few minutes, and maybe having to repeat the same thing over and over due to the unreliable connection or finding out that the web site is no longer working because the download did not work properly… and all this while everybody else is basking in the sun on the nearby beach…
Certainly, a web-site can be more thoroughly customised, but when it comes to telling the story while it unfolds, nothing beats a blog! Furthermore, modern blog sites allow also to post pictures, which can be added at leisure when the connection is good enough.
There are even some service-providers that cater specifically to yachties, giving nice extras like map-based positioning or the ability for visitors to send short text messages to the boat, without revealing your e-mail address to everybody.
The only possible drawback might be the need to transfer all the stuff on a more permanent environment once back at home, if you don’t want to continue paying the subscription fee.