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Old 02-02-2008, 19:25   #1
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pirate Hello Forum - Internet and Catamaran Questions

I got the sailboat bug a week and a half ago, and I got it bad. I've probably spent about twenty hours now reading this forum and various websites trying to get a handle on all relevant terminology, concerns and skills for living and cruising full time.

I am only 24, so I have youth on my side. I've spent the last few years on the fast track, getting a master's degree from a top university in an employable field and working my way up the career ladder, but frankly I've found it kind of empty, and I'm terrified about living the modern American life. I think I will be happier on a boat.

I have about a million questions, but there are two that are particularly on my mind, and I haven't been able to find answers despite using the search feature on this forum.

1) Is it possible to get unlimited internet access for less than $100/month without being tied to a marina or wifi location. As far as I can tell, if you're moving around, you have two main options for internet: satellite and cell phone. US cell phone data plans are less than $100/month with a long-term commitment, but it sounds like cell phone reception gets pretty spotty as you sail away from mainland, and it sounds like a mega-hassle with islands all on different systems. I had originally thought that satellite was the clear winner, with a combination of a pretty expensive (~$4k) up front dish from someone like Seatel plus like $50 a month to someone like WildBlue, but I can't actually find an affordable monthly satellite internet provider for sailboats. Does anyone have unlimited internet for less than $100/month without being tied to a location?

2) Why is everyone's catamaran so big? I've seen quite a few comments that while length is usually a good thing, often times smaller boats are far easier to afford, maintain, control, etc., and for single people / couples 32-36' monohulls have been recommended a few times as quite doable. Now, a 35' catamaran is supposed to have the space of about a 45' monohull. Based on these last two pieces of information, I expected lots of people to have 27', 28', 29' catamarans but I almost never hear of boats like these. What am I missing? Are they unsafe?

Thanks for any help or advice you can give me. I've been reading this forum just about nonstop for the past few days, and I'm looking forward to joining this community. It seems like a great place.
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Old 02-02-2008, 21:20   #2
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G'day Liboaty, can't help with either question but welcome anyway. I think if this site can't answer your questions, no none can. BTW the sailing bug is usually a lifetime affliction, sometimes goes into remission but can resurface without warning. Often thought to be treatable with money, boats, farms etc but these really only provide symptomatic relief, even acute sea sickness does not help in most cases - sorry to be the bearer of such news.
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Old 03-02-2008, 14:21   #3
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Aloha Liboaty,
Welcome aboard! I believe the answer to your question is that the advantage to having a catamaran is that they are faster off the wind when they are lighter compared to monohulls the same length. When folks start loading up a smaller cat such as a 29 or 32 with all the things needed to cruise then the added weight negates all the advantages. Also when cats are overloaded the stress on hulls and rigging becomes greater and cats don't have the heeling (safety valve) that monohulls have to relieve the stress if really gusty conditions appear suddenly. These are just some of my thoughts but I'm certain others will respond too.
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P. S. I like the name "Liboaty." Good one.
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Old 04-02-2008, 16:39   #4
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Welcome Liboaty,

The short answer to #2 is that there aren't any - probably for the reasons John mentioned. There are lots of 27-29 monohulls, but very few manufacturers make 'cruising' catamarans of that length, and you certainly won't find many in the U.S.

As to #1, most cruisers in the Caribbean rely on free or or short term WiFi contracts wherever they happen to be. AFAIK, EVDO service from Sprint or Verizon is not available there, and marine satelite plans usually involve a per minute charge for data access. It would be interesting to see whether you could adapt a fixed antenna like WildBlue's for mobile use - maybe with a GPS enabled telescope motor drive?
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Old 04-02-2008, 17:27   #5
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There's a Catalac 27' for sale in Marathon:

1983 Tom Lack Catalac Boat For Sale=
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Old 04-02-2008, 21:09   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by liboaty View Post
2) Why is everyone's catamaran so big? I've seen quite a few comments that while length is usually a good thing, often times smaller boats are far easier to afford, maintain, control, etc., and for single people / couples 32-36' monohulls have been recommended a few times as quite doable. Now, a 35' catamaran is supposed to have the space of about a 45' monohull. Based on these last two pieces of information, I expected lots of people to have 27', 28', 29' catamarans but I almost never hear of boats like these. What am I missing? Are they unsafe?
For a cruising boat, it is pretty much a necessity to have a place to stand up in that is out of the elements. Generally speaking, and there are exceptions, at around 35 feet a naval architect can design a cabin for a catamaran where there is enough headroom for the typical adult. Additionally, there is also enough bridge deck clearance above the water so as to minimize chop slamming against the bottom of the bridge deck. For monohulls, it is roughly around 25 feet to 28 feet that allows enough headroom in the cabin with which to stand up. These are ballpark figures.

The other factors are waterline length and comfort. Waterline length gives you a higher hull speed which of course amounts to more speed. There are other factors for hull speed but waterline length is the greatest factor. An estimate for hull speed is the square root of the length in feet, times 1.4.

Size equals more comfort because you can put more creature comforts onboard and the boats motion is easier in comparable sea states.

Boats are an incredibly complex compromise of many factors which means there is no ultimate boat for everyone. The ultimate boat is the one that you consider to be the best boat for you.
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Old 07-02-2008, 19:12   #7
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Thanks for the warm welcome and for the information about small Catamarans. I think I've pretty much made up my mind that a monohull is the right fit for me in the short-term. I could see getting a larger Catamaran if I come across a lot of money later in life, but for now I think I'd rather save towards the $50k price tag on a 32-36' monohull than the $100k++ price tag on a 35'+ Catamaran. Awesome! $50k is so much more achievable. All the Catamaran love on the forums was making me second-guess my inclination towards monohulls, but given my desire for a smaller, cheaper boat, I think a 32'-36' monohull is the clear winner right now.

As for the internet access, thanks for the information slomotion, but I guess I'm still going to need to do some research. If I can have internet access, I can leave much sooner because my profession will allow me to make good money as long as I'm connected. I'm even willing to make compromises for this like staying near the eastern US seaboard. I wonder where the best sub-forum or place to do further sailboat internet research would be. I'm just brimming with questions about the three available internet options that I know of: wifi, cellphone, and satellite. I'm going to throw questions out here for people to answer if they can.

Wifi internet access:
1) How frequently do you come across free Wifi places in various cruising locations? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?
2) How frequently do you come across for pay Wifi places in various cruising locations? How much do they usually cost?
3) How far away can you typically be from a Wifi location and still get reception from your boat?
4) Has anyone found a Wifi booster antenna like Cantenna to help increase the range? How much?

Cell Phone internet access:
5) On the US coast how far from shore can you be and still get cell phone / EVDO reception?
6) How about with a cell phone antenna booster? How much do the boosters help?
7) Which places outside the US have similar cell phone data plans with unlimited access?

Satellite internet access:
8) WildBlue and other home satellite providers explicit say on their site that they do not serve sailboats, but why do they care? If the dish on my boat is not pointing directly at the satellite, isn't that my problem, not theirs? Does it really matter to them my physical location? (Wouldn't it be easier to point at the satellites from open water near the equator anyway?)
9) Are there any satellite providers that will sell to sailboats unlimited access for less than $100/month?

Right now I'm thinking that my best bet would be to get a big cell phone antenna booster and stay near the US south eastern coast. And then feed the cell phone signal into a wireless access point on my boat.
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Old 07-02-2008, 21:21   #8
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(Wouldn't it be easier to point at the satellites from open water near the equator anyway?)
I don't know where WildBlue's satellite(s) are located, but I can tell you that they are in geosynchronous orbit...meaning that you probably won't have coverage in most parts of the world, unless they do in fact have a constellation of satellites that covers the entire globe.
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Old 14-02-2008, 06:18   #9
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I don't know where WildBlue's satellite(s) are located, but I can tell you that they are in geosynchronous orbit...meaning that you probably won't have coverage in most parts of the world, unless they do in fact have a constellation of satellites that covers the entire globe.
WildBlue satellite broadband service reaches virtually everywhere in the contiguous U.S.
WildBlue - Official Website - High Speed Internet via Satellite
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Old 14-02-2008, 09:36   #10
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Per WildBlue's web site, they use a Telestat satellite in GS orbit 22.5K mi. over the equator at 111.1 degrees west Longitude. So, it would be easy to point a dish at it anywhere in the Caribbean. However, they use spot beam technology to limit coverage to the continguous U.S. Apparently, you can't even get it in Puerto Rico - oh, well.
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Old 14-02-2008, 09:48   #11
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Welcome liboaty!

If your not going criusing to far away places anytime soon, don't discount buying a sound older boat (survey) start small 30-32ft, that won't depreciate much, for considerbly less than $50m (brand name coastal boat=larger market when looking to sell). Enables you to go sailing sooner and understand what boat ownership/maint/repair really mean.
Even maint/repairs are great experiences and confidence builders because once you understand your systems, can troubleshoot and repair them...Becomes a great enabler. Also you will have a much better idea of what you want and don't want in your next cruising boat...size, systems, sailplan, draft, displacement.
And you can start experiencing your local waters, New England, LI sound, mid-atlantic coast and bays as your experience and time allows.
Good luck!
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Old 14-02-2008, 10:48   #12
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Liboaty - Welcome ... May I suggest that you repost your questions in a more defined forum? Posting here in the Meets and Greets will only get you a few responses. Breaking out each question and posting in their specific areas will allow those who know and focus on those particular issues, find your question and respond.

Good Luck!
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Old 09-11-2011, 21:57   #13
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Re: Hello Forum; Internet and Catamaran questions

Hi i am fairly new to this forum, but have done lots of searching with regards to boat questions you are asking, there is a web page called :- Zero To Cruising | Fun-loving couple sailing the Caribbean on their catamaran Mike & Rebecca have been sailing for 467 days & send emails almost every day & are at the moment in Grenada they have an Apple lap top & use a
Alfa 1000mW 1W 802.11b/g USB Wireless WiFi Network Adapter With Original Alfa Screw-On Swivel 9dBi Rubber Antenna

And have sailed from Canada & have almost never paid for internet :-) there is always the web radio for snail mail.

We have been looking at boats for a while & it was not until i had a pro laps that we decided to get a Catamaran & will be in the USA in Feb. for 3 months looking for one that has every thing required

Good luck with your search
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Old 11-11-2011, 21:28   #14
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Re: Hello Forum - Internet and Catamaran Questions

Internet access aboard is an area that is advancing rapidly and you have many choices. Realistically, once you get a boat and live aboard you will most likely spend most of your time in a marina or at anchor near a town. This makes wifi your main source of always-on internet access. Once you move offshore or go to some way off uninhabited islands (like Chagos, for example), for your budget you will have to rely on using the shortwave radio to patch in emails and receive emails - and neither are live time.

More importantly, I think you should be researching the boat rather than exactly which configuration you will use to access the internet. Once you get the right boat the internet issue will become more obvious. The boat is the important decision.

Have you been on Yachtworld yet? All boats for sale around the world can be found there and it is educational and fun. I also recommend reading a lot, such as "Inspecting the Aging Sailboat." by Don Casey, etc.

20 years ago I was in exactly your situation with your budget. I was working in Manhattan and learned to sail on the Sound. I bought my first boat, a Cape Dory 33, and headed south to a better life.

Good luck.

Dhillen
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Old 12-11-2011, 06:19   #15
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Re: Hello Forum - Internet and Catamaran Questions

Check Globalstar satellite phones. The service is not broadband -- more like slow dial-up -- but for $20 per month you can email from wherever you are. This would have to be part of a multi-prong communications strategy . . . cell, wifi, satphone.

I hope you can work it all out. Many of us wish we had done what you're envisioning at your age. Good luck!
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