Keeping in touch, retrieving email, letting others know you are still alive and well, while overlanding in distant remote locations, can be challenging, even in the age of instant and always-on communications. Before the Internet was so nearly ubiquitous and pervasive, there was Amateur Radio. And it’s still going strong today.
Amateur Radio is a hobby that allows licensed operators to communicate with other enthusiasts around the world. It also allows for the experimentation of various aspects of radio, communications, and electronics.
Amateur Radio is also a is a vital part of global communications and a public service. It does not rely on internet or telephone links and is a good back-up when those systems fail. In times of emergencies and disasters, licensed Amateur Radio operators often lend their qualifications, skills, experience, and personal equipment to provide voice and data communications to government and relief agencies. Amateur Radio operators don’t need cell towers, the Internet, or radio repeaters to relay messages, to or from anywhere in the world.
After more than a year of looking for a suitable international overlander, I found it in Canmore, Alberta.
2002 Toyota Tacoma on the banks of Kama Bay, Lake Superior, east of Nipigon, Ontario (2019.01.17)
My requirements for an overland vehicle are for a simple, basic, strong, honest machine, that will reliably carry me to where I want to go for the next 10 years or so.
After my experience with electronic gremlins on my BMW motorcycle at the end of my 2008/09 trip to South America, I knew I wanted as few of onboard computers as possible. I need to be able to maintain the vehicle myself and to give a proper bush mechanic an honest chance of fixing it, if and when needed, no matter where I am in the world.
So from the start, I knew I would be challenged to find an older low mileage vehicle, that had a good reputation for reliability, that was well maintained, had not been abused, had not modified in any meaningful way, was in good condition.
Frustrated with my search, I started looking at importing a JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) or a vehicle from the UK. But they are right-hand drive vehicles, and many countries don’t allow the import of these beasts, even on a temporary basis. I would encounter enough road blocks and detours on my planned adventure without adding to them before I started.