A significant drawback with Spot is that it doesn't work far from land. Spot uses the Globalstar Low Earth Orbit satellite constellation, which only works if the satellite is line of site to an earth station. Our Spot Messenger stopped working about half way from Mexico to the Marquesas and didn't begin working again until Tonga.
Starting in 2015, we're now using Google Maps to show our daily tracks. Here's the complete path for our Atlantic Coast travels. I also show where we stopped and some statistics on the day's travel. I talk a little about how this is done below.
A better way to view our track is to download this file and open it with Google Earth.
British Columbia 2014
This map shows our 2014 summer cruise north to British Columbia.
To view in Google Earth, download and open this file.
To provide position reports when far from shore and the internet, we signed up for Yotreps, which allows us to send a position report to their server via sailmail. The benefit of Yotreps, is that the position reports don't go away, but it is considerably more cumbersome to use. We only use Yotreps on passages, both because of the extra effort and because it provides some redundancy if anyone needs to come looking for us. .
The complete Yotreps history since leaving Mexico can be viewed on Yotreps or a better presentation can be found here.
Our position reports from Fiji to Australia were filed differently than the others and can be found here here.
Google Maps and Google Earth
Given the limitations of Spot and Yotreps, I was left with needing some means of showing our entire track in one place. To make this happen, I put together an electronic log in Excel and went back and imported all of the Spot and Yotreps reports. In addition, there were a fair number of places for which we didn't have position reports. For these, I extracted coordinates from OpenCPN (chart plotting software) and added them to the spreadsheet. From here, I wrote a VBA script that creates a Google Earth KML file from the electronic log which I periodically upload to a Google Sites page. I only do this every one to three weeks depending on how much we're moving and how good the internet access is.
Until the end of 2014, there was a really cool Google Earth plugin that allowed me to embed our track right in the web page, but the toolkit that Google used to create the plugin was vulnerable to hacking, so they and the major internet browser suppliers discontinued support. I have replaced the tracks for our 2009 - 2012 South Pacific Tour with an embedded Google Map, which is shown below.
For a more immersive view, you can download the kml file and open it directly with Google Earth. This is by far the best way to view our track.
For the Atlantic trip, I decided to include our daily tracks in the map, so each day's tracks are exported from OpenCPN to a .kml file. The logbook code has been modified to extract the relevant data from each of the daily track files and put them all together in one larger file.