Editorial December 2009 Issue

In Distress? There’s No App for That

This month’s review of "smart phone" navigation tools and software got me thinking about my own descent into the mobile phone abyss, and more broadly, how the communication revolution is reshaping our approach to life at sea. For many years after moving ashore, I resisted the urge to own a mobile phone. That changed after my pregnant wife got stranded in a New England snowstorm. Now, a half-dozen saltwater-soaked phones later, my immersion into cell-phone society is complete. As this month’s article shows, the same tool I use to order a pizza can now guide me across the Atlantic. (Although I’d never encourage taking such a risk.) So when the makers of safety equipment and government spokesfolks ballyhoo a too-good-to-be-true safety communication network for mariners, the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), it doesn’t come across as science fiction.

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