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Old 03-01-2009, 11:38   #1
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Internet Access While Sailing

Hi all, I'm what you might call a closet lurker but after reading the forum here for a while I'd like to ask a silly question. How do you all access the internet while sailing?

I'm curious about internet speeds and costs for accessing it. When you're in a marina, do most places offer high speed access like in hotels (free or paid WiFi for example) or is there some way of getting high speed right on your boat?
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Old 03-01-2009, 11:44   #2
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been discussed at great length

internet access - Google Search
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Old 03-01-2009, 11:46   #3
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Do a search with the google powered search engine here and you will be busy reading during the entire week end, cheers
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Old 03-01-2009, 11:48   #4
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Thanks a lot guys, I'm sifting through them
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Old 03-01-2009, 11:52   #5
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It depends where I sail. Most major marinas close to civilization have wifi or are close to someone who does. You will likely need a long range antenna or booster to pick them up from your boat unless you take your laptop ashore. You can get a cell phone plug in card and that will work wherever cell coverage exists. Offshore options include a sat phone with a modem and a subscription to a service such as ocens.com which is probably the cheapest (free text messages and excellent worldwide coverage for voice and data at about $1.50/min). You can also spend 15-20K and have the same coverage with a satellite voice/data satlink but the costs are much higher per min or per byte. Some like ssb with modem but I have no experience with it.
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Old 03-01-2009, 11:55   #6
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No problem we all once in a while ask before searching the forum

Best
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Old 03-01-2009, 15:09   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thisismyurl View Post
. How do you all access the internet while sailing?
Its not a silly question and searching the forum is a good idea, but all has not yet been said, nor are some previous posts relevant... Also: Internet conectivity is such an advancing thing that what was written 6 months ago may now be out of date.

I am using a cell phone modem a unit thats extreemly new in Australia, but may have been in your country or Aisa for longer.

You need to have Mobile Phone (Cell Phone) coverage, but I conected fine the other day (and posted about it!) from 6nm's to sea. Thats not bad for costal cruising situation. No good for world cruising etc.





See Optus - Personal - Pre-Paid Wireless Broadband

or Google Image Result for http://www.digitalgr8ness.com/images/uploads/412usb_modem.jpg

It has a normal SIM card in it so it should be able to be changed to different services in different countries.

Hope this helps, or others have better information

Mark
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Old 03-01-2009, 16:08   #8
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I second you Mark in the sense that when it comes to technology changes really occur overnight.

It would be nice to see threads that not only cover the generalities found in the search but also bring new matters as you mentioned.

For instance, for cruisers wanting to come to San Andres Islands, Providence Island or Cartagena, Colombia, there is a new device sold by the local carriers to be plugged via USB on your computer and with the proper setup give cruisers coverage up to 15 miles offshore a very affordable rates, thats new to me as a local
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Old 03-01-2009, 23:14   #9
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, there is a new device sold by the local carriers to be plugged via USB on your computer and with the proper setup give cruisers coverage up to 15 miles offshore a very affordable rates,
I wonder if thats the same thing that when we come there we could just buy a new sim card for it and save the cost of a new modem?

That would make it all cheaper because the modem itself cost $150. Its like we have 4 mobile phones from diiffernt areas iof the world that are not compatable.



I can't wait till we get global ones. I bet its less than 5 years!



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Old 06-01-2009, 11:36   #10
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Have a look at this. 5 mile Wifi range.

5MileWIFI.com
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Old 14-10-2010, 21:29   #11
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Thanks alot Christopher, for asking the question. I happen to be a not so technologically advanced lady, who has just started to research this topic. My guy andplan to shove off in 2-3 years from the Vancouver, BC area. We have spoken to the ICOM sales guys at the Vancouver Boat show. This certainly seems to be an option, and a likely one for us, but as the above comments have stated, I too believe that technology is changing so quickly that I think there will be better options for us by the time rolls around. We have a boat, now we need to start kitting it out....although the internet options we may do just before we shove off!

As SOFT AIR mentions...the 15 mile offshore option sounds awesome, and as we plan to be cruising the west coast of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvedore etc for a few months before we do the hop over to the Galapagos, it would be great to have more gauranteed coverage.

Thanks for the info and I will be searching when ever I make spare time!

Rose
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Old 15-10-2010, 20:32   #12
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Wifi or mobile in the marina. Inmarsat offshore.

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Old 16-10-2010, 11:13   #13
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A little late to this party, my apologies for being tardy.

I've done seminars on the topic "Wireless Communication for Cruisers" the last couple of years in Georgetown, so I have a bit deeper perspective than most.

That seminar (a transcript is available if you'd like it; it's a bit long to post here, but if enough want it here, I'll do it, or gladly send it to any who like if you'll mail me direct at skipgundlach@gmail.com) covered everything wireless - VHF, HF, Cell, Satellite and WiFi.

No one way fits all, and pretty much, out at sea (say, more than 15 miles), you'll be dependent on satellite or HF radio, and only in tiny bit levels until you get into some very serious bux both to buy and subscribe in satellite.

And, in every case, big ears (the antenna) and a big mouth (the amplifier) control how far you can communicate. All have legislated limits, but, also, in every case, getting the signal to and from an antenna, regardless of the strength of either the antenna or the amplifier, is key.

However, for coastal cruising in non-US areas, where there's a population base, I cant possibly say enough about what I have. Note, I have no financial interest in the company, but am a fanatically happy user. LOTS of cruisers, after seeing what I have, and the results therefrom, have reported back to me after purchasing the same setup I have to say that their experiences match mine.

I have the WiFi (and also, FWIW, the computer setup) system sold by Marine PC's & WiFi by IslandTime PC. If you mouse over the WiFi area on the left of his welcome screen, you'll be able to get an idea of my installation,and some of the screen shots of my scans in several Bahamas areas.

I'm on a mono sailboat, which moves around a lot, so I chose an 8.5dbi antenna, which is a good compromise between receptivity and having the "band" see the shore. Stable platforms could use a much more powerful antenna, but the practical limit for anything which moves is 12dbi, sometimes achievable on cats in sheltered waters.

This setup (which has the antenna directly mounted to the adapter/amplifier, a VERY key point, as signal loss at 2.4gHz, the WiFi band, is severe in cables - stay away from anything with a cable run for the antenna!) routinely allows me to connect while 5-10 miles offshore, under way (in populated areas, of course). Here in Marsh Harbour, my usual choices of stations are, respectively, 6, 8 and 12 miles away. However, there are umpteen pay providers here which cause channel overlap and signal collisions, which slows down throughput. Anchored in, or under way in, the Sea of Abaco, my throughput goes up significantly.

So, the further you can get away from very highly populated (with WiFi transmitters) areas, ironically, the better things can get.

That said, were I only coastal cruising the US, I'd likely use a setup I describe in my seminar. That's a USB enabled router with a USB cell data connection (such as one pictured earlier in the thread). You can do the same in the Bahamas, but never get anywhere near the bandwidth, due to Batelco's limitations, using an unlocked USB cell device. Both of these options, of course, are paid, as they're cell contracts of one flavor or another.

Except in a couple of extreme cases, either where I had huge bandwidth needed (my recent computer rebuild, which needed lots of downloads and updates), or, we were so far into the boonies that there were no other alternatives (no residential sites), we've never paid for access in the 3 years we were cruising, nor the three years prior to that during our refit in the yard.

It's routine (those following my logs can look at a year ago when we had my granddaughters aboard, on it constantly to home) for us to make Vonage (VoIP) calls while under way, such is our system's capability.

5Mile has a cable to antenna, and looks to your computer for power. Alfa and similar require an active USB cable to get it outside of the cabin as well as using your computer for power. Others require TWO USB feeds to support the amplifier, doubling the issue of cabling, whether or not there's also an antenna cable. Then, once outside, it's a matter of positioning. A mast, shroud, spreader or other substantial metal will have a very negative effect on your abilities to do omni communication.

Which is why my direct-mounted antenna is at the top of the mast, deriving power from POE (Power over ethernet) and delivering and receiving data on the same cat5 line. NO signal loss, and it runs off standard boat power at 10.5-18VDC.

Lots of ways to skin a cat, but if it's pure WiFi you want, pretty inexpensively (under 250 plus whatever mounting choice you make - mine was a scrap piece of aluminum Ell), the islandtimepc setup is Da Bomb. Mousing over the same place will also show you a couple of other setups. Dot's Way has theirs on their radar arch. Nocturne (who called me on the boat, from Cleveland, to get the name of the supplier, after he got home and lost his seminar notes!) has a backstay mount by, I think, Edson.

However, for my money (I'm a cheapskate) and the effectiveness of having it at the top, out of the way of any metal, mast-top installation is the only way to go.

LMK if you want me to post the seminar here, or drop me a line and I'll send it to you, if you like.

L8R

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Old 16-10-2010, 11:40   #14
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Skip is right on regarding the need to avoid long runs of 2.4 GHz coax... losses are horrendous, and quality cable is expensive. Putting the electronics at the antenna with PoE is the professional approach.

I thought I'd chime in with another component that has been working well for me... Sprint EVDO. In Puget Sound and the BC coast, coverage has been near 100% (and that's with a temporary kluge antenna in a portlight; I haven't even installed the Shakespeare cellular whip on the arch yet!).

The reason this is interesting is that with a suitable router, you can have it both ways. I have the Cradlepoint MBR1200 (and there are others of varying feature sets and power requirements - 3gstore.com is a good multi-vendor source of such gadgets, and their tech support has been friendly when I've needed it). It can "fail over" between upstream connections, meaning that it's no big deal to switch between marina (or other) WiFi and the cellular connection.

The contract cost of the Sprint service is $60/month, which is annoying, but what it buys me is a dynamic IP address and an always-on server aboard... letting me have a webcam, easy remote access to sensors and logs, remote control of lights, and so on. (That camera link is not the server itself, by the way - publishing that would be too much of a bandwidth hit if everyone was trying to connect to the boat. The camera uploads once a minute to my regular web host, though of course I can access it myself for real-time video and also tweak motion-sensing parameters for security.)

Anyway, the router acts as a local hotspot, making it easy for various devices aboard (laptops, smartphones, etc) to see the boat itself as the net connection.

One other gadget is worth recommending... the Pepwave Surf Mini. This thing is essentially a wireless-ethernet bridge, and even with its own mounted antenna significantly out-performs my MacBook Pro (which has terrible WiFi range, given the aluminum case). The Surf can be used to make the upstream wireless connection as mentioned above, or put on the LAN side to extend the on-board hotspot to multiple boats.

Cheers,
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Old 16-10-2010, 12:19   #15
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Your cradlepoint router and an open cell stick are what I'd use in US coastal cruising, due to the typically larger bandwidth assured. I mention them in the seminar notes. I'll have to look up the other at the end, as I'm not familiar with that one, I don't think.

Folks (undeservedly, I might add!) tend to look at me as the WiFi guru in Georgetown, so I want to make sure I stay current!!

Thanks for the lead.

L8R

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