For many cruisers, one of the benefits of open ocean passages and cruising remote areas is the solitude of being disconnected from the real world. While we enjoy being cut off from society, we still remain keenly interested in world affairs and catch up with the news on a daily basis.
When we’re visiting English speaking countries, there’s nothing quite like taking a break in the morning to read a local newspaper at a café in town. Nowadays, many non-English speaking countries have English newspapers and magazines available. I prefer The Economist for world affairs as it seems to have a fairly balanced view of issues relating to the United States.
In English speaking countries local radio and television offer good local news, but are generally lacking in information relating to world affairs unless there is a station carrying BBC, CNN, Sky or Fox. We do enjoy tuning in when we can to get a bit of local flavor. More and more non-English speaking countries have a station or two broadcasting in English which usually makes for interesting listening. Australian television broadcasts the CBS Evening News from New York each day, and while we were there it was interesting to compare the perspectives of the two country’s news.
In the past, the SSB has been our mainstay for tuning into the news. Regardless of where one is in the world, we could usually find a good BBC, Voice of America or Christian Science Monitor broadcast. In Australasia, we enjoyed Radio New Zealand and Radio Australia when we were in range. I used a book called Passport to World Band Radio to get frequencies and schedules of news and other broadcasts. Due to propagation issues, it is sometimes difficult to get a good clear broadcast, but since many cruisers have an SSB on board, it is an excellent resource for news.
Nowadays, if one is in a civilized area, they generally have access to the Internet. Many marinas have WiFi connections so cruisers can surf the net from the comfort of their nav station, searching a plethora of news websites ranging from the New York Times and the BBC to Al Jazeera.
Our favorite source of news at the moment is the WorldSpace Satellite Radio. The network broadcasts, via satellite, high quality stereo audio, 24/7, over most of the surface of the planet. I think this is a fantastic news and entertainment option for the cruising yacht. In addition to CNN, BBC, Fox and NPR news streams, there is a wide selection of excellent commercial-free stereo music channels. We purchased the radio with a small portable antenna over the web (www.worldspace.com) for less than US$100 and wired it into our sound system. It is simple to use and works very well whether we are stationery or on the move. There is a nominal annual subscription fee for programming, but we feel that it is excellent value for money.
There is no question that if one gathers information from a variety of sources, they will gain a broader perspective on the world, and how the world perceives them. Having spent more than a year’s time in at least four different countries along the way, we’ve come to see that each country has it’s own point of view, biases, and in some cases, blind sides as it relates to the greater world. Today, with the Internet and cable television, news from a different perspective is available to almost anyone who is interested. That is, anyone who doesn’t live in a totalitarian and/or communist country.