We’ve Got Mail

Now that we are back in the land of interweb, I can get to updating the blog. Let me just say that if you are looking for the ability to make phonecalls, text, or send an occasional FB update while in Canada or Mexico, then the Verizon ‘all you can eat’ plan that includes Canada and Mexico is probably fine for you. If you want to use the internet for anything other than that, forget it. Ordering from Amazon: No. Doing a Google search: also no. Looking at more than the first ‘page’ on your FB: are you kidding? No. Loading FB comments or replying to them: that’s a ‘no’.  Getting the latest U.S. version of the news: pretty much NO. (We didn’t miss that much.) If you can ‘splain this to me, please do.

It’s not always pretty sunsets and drinks with umbrellas in the cockpit, but sometimes it is.

Even though we had good reception most places, three ‘bars’ or better, we could not effectively do anything web based.  It was an exercise in frustration, mostly for Mike, since I am not interested in trying to tame a recalcitrant electronic device. If my computer or phone won’t work, it’s got exactly 5 minutes of my messing with it before I see a shiny thing on the other side of the boat and go toward the light.  I decided I would just read my books. It’s going to be a challenge getting used to having sketchy connectivity. After all, this isn’t a vacation; it’s how we live now. And we are a ‘connected’ family. Nevertheless, we shall persist in this thing as in others.

In the flurry of activity gearing up to leaving the south sound area, our son and daughter were intrigued with the number of parcels delivered to the house. Was this Christmas in July? It was not. It was stuff for the boat, for the engine, for the solar panels, you name it: we wanted extra parts for it. But as we cruised, other needs came up and we began using the old fashioned ‘general delivery’ service that allows you to have mail sent to the post office near you and held for 30 days. We had my offshore PFD delivered to the Post Office in Port Townsend. Now that we’re in Friday Harbor again, their Post Office is our new address.

It seems like a foolproof system, sending things to a Post Office to be picked up. But there is never enough proof against fools so we share our new found wisdom with those of you who may use this delivery service in future. As we scrambled around Friday Harbor checking packages off our list in a time-consuming game of ‘scavenger hunt’, we learned some stuff. And got some good exercise in the meantime.

View from the American Camp trail around the Friday Harbor airport. Best blackberries anywhere. Shhhh.

  1. Amazon, from whom all goodness doth flow nowadays, doesn’t always deliver using the Post Office. Of course, we knew that. But when you have a house, it doesn’t matter what color the delivery truck might be.  So it wasn’t on our radar. Sometimes they use UPS. Sometimes they use FedEX. Sometimes they use a combination of those things. Unlike at home, if you think they’ve used the Post Office, but they actually used UPS, you want to know it. Fortunately, if you have *INTERNET (* see above) you can check your account to find out how something shipped.  If they use UPS, you may or may not get a phone call saying you have a package and they will hold it for 7 days. Not 30. Make sure your Amazon account has a phone number where you can be reached. Thankfully the nice folks at the Friday Harbor UPS place, down by the airport, called me when we were in Sidney and told me something had been delivered. I was pretty confused, then they were confused about why I was confused. Save yourself some stress and confusion by checking out how something will be shipped so you’ll know how long it will be held. I’m glad we were in a position to pick the Amazon order up before the 7 day ‘hold’ period was over.
  2. If you have a name like mine, Melissa White, be aware that you are not the only person with that name, even though there is always only one of ‘You’ and you are very, very special.  Imagine my surprise when Mike got an email through the blog that ‘Melissa White’ had received a package that was addressed to General Delivery in Friday Harbor, but it wasn’t for her. This alternative ‘Melissa’ somehow, without opening the package, found us on the interweb and contacted us through the blog saying she may have received my package. We are very happy we were able to pick up that email during one of the few times we could do so while in Canada. She returned the package to the Post Office and we picked it up today. But we also will allow this to be a happy accident and meet up with this other “Melissa White” to compare notes about being us. Of course, the Friday Harbor Melissa has an actual address, so she is unlikely to get things mailed to ‘general delivery’. Still, the postal worker probably thought she was doing Melissa a favor in delivering to her home. I wonder if putting something like “Yacht in Transit” in the address would have helped differentiate us from all of our dopplegangers.
  3. Sometimes things take longer to be delivered to an island. Right? So it’s nice to not have a schedule while you wait for large packages. Things that should have been delivered on Monday, might actually not be delivered until Thursday. Best to not have a schedule.
  4. It’s nice to have an actual street address with a person attached to it to have expensive parts delivered. We are grateful to Steven Roberts of Friday Harbor for letting us use his address to have a couple of larger things delivered. That reduces all kinds of worry.

    Just going to pick up our mail. Out in the middle of nowhere.

And for those of you who do not live on a boat unleashed from land, here’s how things roll for us: Yesterday we walked about three miles to get to the UPS delivery place to pick up our Amazon packages and to Steve’s street address to pick up a part for the Hydrovane installation (which we hope will now be PERFECT). We took a great path around the airport perimeter, picked extremely plump and yummy blackberries as we walked the trail and then walked along a heavily traveled road to a dirt road to the delivery location. It was a house.  Mike knocks on the door and the home owner comes to the door. ‘Hi, I’m Michael Boyte. I think you have a package for me?’.  Homeowner hands over the package containing $350 worth of Hydrovane parts. Honestly, it seemed suspicious the way things so easily went down.  Then the guy offers to drive us back to town! Winner! Who says ‘no’ to a ride when the alternative is to lug two boxes on a cart about 3 miles to town? As our daughter says, ‘This is the life you chose’. Getting the mail. That’s our ‘one thing’ we did yesterday. And it was great.

We’re getting kind of anxious to get going down the coast. All the cool kids in our class have already graduated and left home. S/V Blue is gone, S/V Bella Nave is gone, S/V Brigadoon decided to stick around here for a grand baby. We’re the only ones we know who are still ‘here’ and it’s beginning to feel a little like that clock is ticking. As of now, we sail out the strait to Neah Bay to wait for weather, if necessary, a little before Labor Day.  That’s pretty soon. May the weather be fine.


S/V Galapagos out, for now.


10 thoughts on “We’ve Got Mail

  1. Ah yes, the postal dance! I followed up with Amazon on that issue once, and the rep I spoke with – very nice and trying to be helpful – just couldn’t wrap her head around my question. “Why does it matter how we deliver?” was her dilemma. “We’ll make sure it gets to your physical address.”
    “But My physical address isn’t on land right now.” says I.
    “But your house…” says she.
    “Is a boat…” says I.
    No help there!

    • That’s too funny! The commentor above, Luna, has what may be a solution to that problem. Addressing to Your Name, Post Office Box General Delivery, city etc.

  2. I did a tour once on Mackinac Island with a resident tour guide. She explained that they hadn’t had physical addresses on the island until the beginning of this century. (Doesn’t that sound weird to hear 2000 called that?) She said try ordering online without a house number. The catalog companies just didn’t understand. They only reason they have numbers now is for their 911 system. (Which wasn’t necessary either; but mandated by big government)

    I don’t know if you read this couple: http://www.technomadia.com/? They specialize in connectivity and their posts might help you do a little better with the internet.

    • I think those are the places that would be easiest to ship to. Small places with only one post office where people all know each other. Thanks for the technomadia link. I think we’ve checked out their site, but I’ll make sure. We were connected, we had good signal, but just no web use.

  3. I boat and RV (double package nightmare!), and for me, seeing how Amazon has shipped after they do so doesn’t help. Reason is because the address will vary. Sometimes the various places are nice (e.g. UPS hub will accept a Fedex package) but often it gets sent back. You can “force” Amazon to ship via post office by addressing it to your name, PO Box General Delivery, post office address, town, ZIP. Of course this means you have to suffer with USPS tracking, but at least it comes. Also sometimes in a larger town/city, only one/some of the post offices take general delivery, so if there is more than one I try to check (or just wait till I’m going to be in a town with only one post office). Amazon really is the worst for that (unpredictable delivery service).

    The end of your post gave me a nostalgia burst – I anchored in Neah Bay in Sept. 2001 waiting for the weather window to go south. Wishing you a wonderful passage!


    PS: I’d like to spend some time in BC/Inside Passage next summer. Last time I went there basically was no Internet (and for real no wi-fi), but now I’d like to be able to be connected. Just don’t know yet how to wrangle that from Verizon so it really works (Technomads haven’t been to Canada yet, I don’t think?) So I’m all ears on that.

    • Wow, you do have a double whammy. But that’s a great idea to address to PO Box General Delivery. I suppose if a place has more than one PO, then the correct zip ought to help in locating the right office.
      The problem in Canada in the more remote regions are there are very few signal towers. So the inside passage, still being remote and fairly unpopulated, is an area where you will have trouble getting connected anywhere but a largish town. When we went to the west side of Vancouver Island, we just gave up the idea that we would have any kind of connectivity with our usual world. That was fine as it we knew it before we went and we knew there was a time limit on how long we’d be there. Wish we’d had time to explore the inside passage before we leave. But that’s not the way the wind blew us.

      • We’re in the same boat (Ha!) as Luna, being as we live in an RV in Maine in the summer, and aboard the boat in the winter – currently in Florida, but in future, who knows? We do have the advantage that the RV doesn’t move, so that’s a fixed address. It’s when we’re on the boat that we have troubles, like you.

        • We’ll be leaving the US with only one debit card for one of our accounts because the PO refused delivery of it. It was sent Fed EX to the Post office. That was a day filled with drama.

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