Cruisers Forum

Join CruisersForum Today

Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 04-12-2010, 16:47   #1
Marine Service Provider

Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 1,249
WiFi on the Hook Is a Joke !

So, I've been following the long distance Wi-fi thread for a while, and bought one of the set ups suggested in that thread. The range on this thing is pretty good, but what I'm noticing is the availability of Wi-fi is VERY location dependent. And I'm not just talking US vs Caribbean, etc. In my very limited experience it seems to really vary based just on state and city.

Here's what I've seen so far:

First summer, Highlands, NJ. Comcast signal plus 1 or 2 other networks that worked on occasion.

Winter right across from NYC. My marina had Wi-fi, which was a good thing, because the handful of other networks I was picking up were all secure.

Spring, further up the Hudson, Comcast again, didn't even see another blip on the radar.

Summer, Sandy Hook, NJ Comcast, from probably a few miles away.

Then on my trip South, I got Wi-fi here and there, but mostly stuck with my tethered phone, just because it was easier.

Now, West Palm Beach, easily 2-3 dozen networks, but...most are secure, and the few that aren't seem to have pretty weak signals, and the rest seem to work very intermittently. Sometimes decent speed, other times, no internet connection at all. Could it be a bandwidth problem? Every boat in the anchorage connecting to the one decent signal that actually has an internet connection.

Basically to sum it up, in my 1-1/2 years of experience it seems to be a real crap shoot, that's really location dependent. Posting this from a Starbucks! So, am I missing something. Is Wi-fi, and a future of free...or even just reliable mobile internet a pipe dream? Or is my limited experience, pretty much spot on with what everyone else is seeing?

off-the-grid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2010, 16:55   #2
Registered User
Feral Cat's Avatar

Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Southern California...s/v Feral Cat Catalina 38' S&S design
Boat: Catalina 38' S&S design
Posts: 66
I am noticing that most available wifi spots are secure...

Never really understood that logic other than the internet providers not wanting one hot-spot to provide service to many... up to 212 users, yes potentially slowing down for all the users but heck 212 users from one site.

with the whole "security issue" scare tactics most all sites are locked down. Just think how things would be if we all opened up our available sites... It would then truly be the internet!

But then again the internet access providers would lose a big chunk of cash and we cannot have that, can we?

Feral Cat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2010, 17:01   #3
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 3,016
Images: 4
Few users understand the problem with long distance Wi-Fi. At the companies hawking the junk aren't going to tell, so...

You can use all the gain you want and not solve the problem. With microwave signals it's almost always the noise that gets you. More gain, more noise. Picking up more than a couple of networks on the same channel is the first clue that the interference will be bad. Plus all the other noisy junk ashore that uses the same wavelengths. An exercise in frustration.

Your only hope is some kind of highly directional antenna. And swinging at anchor makes that unworkable.

Cellular 3G is the painless way to go. It's worth the price.
daddle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2010, 17:46   #4
Registered User

Join Date: May 2008
Location: British Columbia, Mexico
Boat: S&S Hughes 38
Posts: 837
Images: 23
Swinging on anchor at this very moment in Mex. with my 500mw Alfa and Engenius 2408 omni antenna(Don't forget the 10ft. usb extension cable to get it up in the lazy jacks).Making phone calls as well.Once in a while signal gets dropped for a minute or five, but for free what do you expect.For longer range connecting I pull out the 5 mile Wifi, or the Telcel 3G.
highseas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2010, 18:11   #5
Registered User
simonmd's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Sant Carles, S Spain
Boat: 30ft Catalac 900 "Rubessa"
Posts: 876
Well, you hit the nail on the head, its all about money. Sure, the Internet is free BUT the people who provide it arnt. If you are luckey enough to pick up a free unsecured signal, don't knock the qusality or speed of it. Just be gratefull youve got a connection at all!

I'm typing this from my laptop in my cabin of my motoryacht in S Spain. We are lucky enough to get free WIFI from the port as part of the mooring fees but even this is rubbish, I average between HALF and ONE meg!!!
simonmd is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2010, 18:32   #6
Marine Service Provider
AnchorageGuy's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Wherever the boat is!
Boat: Marine Trader 34DC
Posts: 4,617
Our experience from Houston Texas to the Chesapeake Bay has been that in all of our days of travel, we had three that we could not find an open WiFi connections and 99% of the time we had good connections with good speed. This includes anchorages out in the bayous of Louisiana where we saw no signs of civilization. But if you want high speed connections every place you go, Then get an air card or a phone with a data plan that you can tether. I find it hard to complain about something that I get for free. But we have had very good luck in our travels. We don't do marinas that often, mostly anchoring out, but every marina we stayed in provided free WiFi. Chuck
Chesapeake Bay, ICW Hampton Roads To Key West, The Gulf Coast, The Bahamas

The Trawler Beach House
Voyages Of Sea Trek
AnchorageGuy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2010, 18:34   #7
Marine Service Provider

Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 1,249
Actually, there's one here that appears (based on the name of the network) to be an insecure "not" free network. Their signal sucks!

I'm not knocking the quality of free insecure Wi-fi. I'm knocking the quality of all Wi-fi in general. Same here. The signal from the sailing club is horrible! Can't barely even pick it up from the boat house. Never mind the mooring field.
off-the-grid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2010, 21:56   #8

Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 744
I've been using WiFi extensively with long-range capabilities since Winter 2003/4. Back then, when I'd anchor in a populated place like Melbourne, FL, there would be a hundred open spots and I'd have my pick of routers. Within 3 years, the exact same spot had a couple hundred routers but none of them were open. Today, it's quite rare to be in a populated place and find open WiFi unless you're near a facility that's providing it. Homes along the waterway have learned to lock their routers because too many people were getting on and using their connections.

Now with WiFi security issues being so easy to crack, you're out of your mind to get on an open WiFi router without using a VPN if you're doing email or any type of browsing where you care about your identity. You're also out of your mind to keep your own home router open allowing someone to snoop on you.

What I've found is that if you anchor in an uncommon area and use long-range capabilities, you'll find more open routers. For example, last Spring we anchored in a crappy anchorage and few people have dropped the hook there. But it was a beautiful, calm night, and we were just heading out the inlet in the morning so it seemed perfect. You can see from my notes in the Internet field that there were "Plenty of open WiFi from homes along the shore." This has been a common finding of mine - anchor in an unusual place, and you can hit unsuspecting houses if you've got the range.

Open WiFi is going away. It's often pretty good when you're at a marina and becoming terrible at anchor. The only saving grace is that cellular has become very reliable and pretty fast. Cellular is the way to go - it's what we use 95% of the time now. One really nice feature of cellular is that it will hand off your connection tower-to-tower as you move. That means you can keep a continuous internet connection while underway (depending on location). That alone is worth the extra cost of cellular in my opinion.
ActiveCaptain is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2010, 22:00   #9
Registered User
Unicorn Dreams's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Clear Lake Marine Services - Seabrook, Texas
Boat: Gulfstar, Mark II Ketch, 43'
Posts: 2,359
In the USA , I'll stick with my 4G broadband Sprint connection.. Always smoking hot connection...
Formerly Santana
The winds blow true,The skies stay blue,
Everyday is a good day for SAILING!!!!
Unicorn Dreams is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-12-2010, 22:39   #10
Registered User

Join Date: May 2009
Location: Vancouver, Wash.
Boat: no longer on my Cabo Rico 38 Sanderling
Posts: 1,794
Send a message via MSN to John A
A WlFi router connects to a modem, which either connects to a phoneline or a broadband such as Comcast, or a cell tower. People sending or receiving pictures and online gameing can really effect the performance of all traffic thru a router.

Now with all the IPADS, IPODS, TV's, and cell phones using broadband, unless the FCC allows more frequencies for broadband, its only going to get worse.

I secured my private router because I don't want other users to share my modem with me.
Be very careful using a router with other users because everyone using the same WiFi router can transfer files and data between computers, very easy, without anyone knowing, unless they use a Package such as Norton or McFee.

If your computer is not password protected, I wouldn't use a public WiFi router.
John A is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-12-2010, 00:36   #11
Registered User
richardhula's Avatar

Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: UK
Boat: S M Hudson 60' narrowboat
Posts: 347
Send a message via Skype™ to richardhula
Hey what do you expect for nothing?

WiFi or wireless derivatives is the way to go as future developments will prove. Right now the latest 802.11n specification is capable of providing up to 600Mbps transmission speeds, that's 100 x faster than your best home cable broadband. They just haven't built the MIMO 4x4:4 equipment yet.

Yes more & more networks will use password protection & with it security encryption, as they all should. There is now Firesheep a freely available browser plug-in that can intercept passwords sent by other machines connected to same open network.

Whatever networks you connect to, good Internet security software is a must (not just anti-virus).

If in doubt RTFM
richardhula is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-12-2010, 01:58   #12
Registered User
pressuredrop's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: West Palm Beach
Boat: Allied Seawind 30
Posts: 747
Originally Posted by grunzster View Post

Now, West Palm Beach, easily 2-3 dozen networks, but...most are secure, and the few that aren't seem to have pretty weak signals, and the rest seem to work very intermittently. Sometimes decent speed, other times, no internet connection at all.
Grunz - i met a danish couple that cruised on through last winter and this is what they did... they were anchored on the otherside of the channel from where you are...

took out some bino's and read one of the huge boats names in rybovich marina... then they hailed the marina on the radio (maybe phone, i dont recall) and said "this is so and so, crew on the (boat name read with binos), can you give us the wifi password? worked like a charm, pretty clever i thought if not 100% ethical... should work most places there is a big marina with wifi
pressuredrop is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-12-2010, 04:39   #13
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2009
Boat: Roaring Girl: Maxi 120 ketch, 12 long
Posts: 399
In Europe free, unsecured wifi is uncommon (except in macdonalds!). It never has, I susepct, been as common as you got used to for a while in the US.

We need reliable internet connection from the boat for business purposes and agree with Active Captain that good cellular is currently the best solution if you need that. Of course that might/will change but any technological solution has a short term horizon at the moment.
Sarah & Pip
s/v Roaring Girl
Roaring Girl is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-12-2010, 05:18   #14
Registered User
mbianka's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 2,125
Images: 1
I agree that free WIFI is getting hard to come by even populated areas. I was docked at the 79th Street Marina in New York last year and saw a continueous stream of people bring their laptops out to the end of the public dock. I thought maybe they just wanted to do some work and have a nice view. Turns out that was the only place in the marina where you MIGHT get a Wifi signal. Happily, I find that the cell phone can take care of most of my email needs. But I too use it as a tethered modem for other internet use these days. But, I often anchor in places where even cell service is weak and I need to hang the phone out a port to get a reliable signal. But, it's worth it to be able to anchor such locations. Hell, it seems it was not too long ago that I had to head back to civilization to find a pay phone just to let my girlfriend know that I was ok.
Capt. Mike
mbianka is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-12-2010, 05:19   #15

Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 744
Be very careful using a router with other users because everyone using the same WiFi router can transfer files and data between computers, very easy, without anyone knowing, unless they use a Package such as Norton or McFee.

If your computer is not password protected, I wouldn't use a public WiFi router.
While the guts of this message is good - protect yourself and your network - the specifics aren't correct.

The current danger isn't in getting files off your computer or even putting viruses onto your computer. The danger today is other people sitting on the same network (using open WiFi) and being able to watch all the traffic entering and leaving your computer. Through this traffic they can obtain passwords, session variables, cookies, and other "intelligence" which would make it simple to steal your identity. All the Norton's, McAfee's, and passwords used to think you're secure are going to fail in that defense.

Closed WiFi, https, and VPN's are the technologies to be aware of today. Even closed WiFi has a timer ticking because there are some new tools to make decrypting it pretty simple if you can sit back and collect up a day's worth of data.

If there are web sites you use a lot where you need to log onto, write to the site and ask them to use https if they're not currently using it. There's an expense, software development, and hassle associated with it but that ends up protecting the users. Unless you're using SSL-based or https email, don't ever, ever go onto an open WiFi network and sit back and let email stream in. I demonstrated on another site how easy it is to grab accounts and passwords by doing that.

If you don't know whether you're using SSL-based or https email, you probably aren't. Be careful.

ActiveCaptain is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
How to hook up to a mooring ball Stever407 Seamanship & Boat Handling 27 13-05-2013 15:22
Sandy Hook to Cape May duncan_ellison Atlantic & the Caribbean 71 06-10-2010 11:17
Living off the hook / grid - what do you need? SweetSurrender General Sailing Forum 42 11-02-2009 11:58
Where's the hook? knottybuoyz Off Topic Forum 10 17-03-2007 13:42
sailing on the hook capt lar Monohull Sailboats 62 05-07-2006 18:11

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2015 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 00:51.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.