While others have mentioned the Engenius 362 I prefer a different model.
The Engenius EOC- 3220 ext is about $120 and is weatherproof. This is directional but comes with a little antenna
that makes it omnidirectional. This thing will pull in wifi
signals that are miles away. I guess it's being replaced by a new unit ( EOC-2610) that's more powerful and even cheaper. But I don't know much about it.
While you could mount this up the mast
you only need a few miles line of sight. I attach mine to the stern rail and turn it by hand to use the directional antenna
while sitting with my wireless laptop
(I've noticed that a standard beer
bottle assists this process). I sometimes raise it on a long boat hook in harbor but I honestly don't see much different. I've also heard of people just using a flag halyard
By putting the smarts at the antenna this avoids the severe loss of trying to move wifi
signals through coax or the length limits of usb cables
. You connect using a standard cat 5 network cable that can run 300ft+.
While the Engenius can supposedly be it's own wireless hub the setup is geeky. Instead get a cheap
$50 wireless router (linksys, netgear) like you would use on a home DSL setup. Plug
the Engenius into this.
You should also be aware that the "golden days" of pulling into a harbor and finding free wifi is going away fast. Encyrption is the norm. You'll be paying someone more often than not.
I didn't know about these guys when I bought mine but I wish I had. They clearly understand boats. No relation.
Engenius wifi setup for boats eoc-322 ext eub-362 ext