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Stars or Starlink? Sailors Have More Choices Than Ever

The Starlink genie is out of the magic lantern and joins a long list of innovations presenting humans with the paradox of technical progress. Our July issue included a couple of stories on Starlink with our thoughts in Sightings, and a report from cruiser Doug Hornsey aboard the Orca 38 Mandolyn in Changes in Latitudes.

There was a time when people wondered why you would go to the movies when you could go to the theater, and a time when people thought social media would actually be a force for good. The launch of Starlink aboard sailboats is another seemingly irresistible technical marvel transforming the experience of those who sail.

Many experienced cruisers look at the arrival of Starlink with a mix of fear and trepidation as they scour the coastline for free Wi-Fi hotspots. Meanwhile, newer cruisers embrace Starlink as the ultimate work “from home” option and learn-as-you-go sailing tool. We recently spoke with a long-term, experienced cruiser from Mexico who’s seen the growing dichotomy in beliefs. Naturally, younger people are more ready to adapt to these changes, while older folks are lamenting the loss of what existed before. Some are trying to find the vague, middle path.

Apple Vision Pro
Linked up to Starlink you’ll be able to enter a dangerous pass into a remote atoll and find a safe anchorage while wearing your new Apple Vision Pro goggles. You’ll also be able to see the constellations even on cloudy days.
© 2023 Apple

At Latitude 38, we sit on the fence as we explore the various new ways we can use the digital universe to tell sailing stories. We use Starlink to work remotely, stream our Transpac Live broadcast, and fill our magazine, digital newsletters and social channels with enough content to prevent everyone from having a moment to sail during their lifetime.

Unlike with sailing, we don’t know what we’re doing or where we’re going with it all, but something uncomfortable feels as if it’s happening as we merge our lives with the always-connected/AI/ChatGPT/robotic universe being created, allowing us to sail an alternate universe. There are certainly thousands of breakthrough benefits and numerous freshly minted billionaires, both coming our way as a result of this next wave of frenzied investment and technical exploration. There was a day when the sextant was a technical breakthrough.

Paul Kamen Celestial Navigation
Despite improving technology, Paul Kamen’s celestial navigation classes remain popular.
© 2023 Shelly Willard

Our July Sightings story called “Starlink or Stars?” wonders what you’ll see when you’re out cruising. When you look up at the heavens, do you see the Southern Cross or the arrival of the next episode of Ted Lasso?

A magical aspect of these new technologies is the increased choices they give us. Shall I watch YouTube, NBC, or Instagram Reels, shop Pinterest, make my own TikTok movie, share the photo of my dessert tonight with Facebook, listen to or create a podcast, write a letter to my grandmother, or lie in a hammock reading Latitude 38 magazine? You can’t fight “progress” but you can decide what to do with your time and how you want to live. Starlink is now giving cruisers more choice than ever, so now, with the genie out of the bottle, cruisers will have to choose their three wishes wisely.

1 Comment

  1. Bruce Balan 9 months ago

    “You can’t fight ‘progress'” but you can choose to live your own life and not one dictated by social media companies and the pressure of a society addicted to screens. Try it. The benefits are many.

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Following the Yellow Brick Road
We've been following the Transpac fleet down the yellow brick road to Hawaii, and with over 50% of the fleet now in, the results are becoming clear as fresh batches of Mai Tais are served.