Sailing is one of the most therapeutic activities there is. You go escape the daily stresses of your life, go off the grid, and just enjoy the sound of waves splashing against your boat. If you were to sail just for the weekend, you could have all the time by yourself. However, if you choose to switch to an off-the-grid lifestyle, you will likely need a stable internet connection more often than not.
Get The Internet At Sea When Sailing
But we go off the grid to stay away from everything, including the internet, right? Obviously, even though many people think that having an internet connection on a sailboat is just impractical and a waste of money, it’s still useful. From finding the nearest supermarket on Google Maps to getting in touch with your loved ones during emergencies.
One of the most challenging aspects of spending your life at sea is the availability of an internet connection. If we turn back the time, even seafarers had the worst time finding a way to communicate with their loved ones while at sea. But thanks to technology, you don’t have to miss your wireless provider anymore as there are more and more options for us to stay connected to the internet whenever we sail.
In this article, we’ve compiled some of the ways you can get an internet connection at sea while sailing. Let’s dive into them!
1. Satellite Internet Hotspots
Satellite internet is the most accessible internet type there is and probably one of your best options for a boating internet. It’s not the fastest, let’s get that straight, but it’s widely available across the United States, typically wherever you go even. However, you have to endure the spotty signals while you’re sailing.
With most satellite internet plans, you’ll have to spend your data wisely, or you’ll have to work with throttled speeds unless you’re willing to pay for extra data. Keep in mind that some satellite internet plans are expensive, so choose your internet provider wisely.
2. Travel Routers
Travel routers have become a necessity for many travelers, especially those who spend most of their year outside their homes. Most of these routers cost around $20 to $100, but we recommend you consider those in the $30 to $70 range. There are specific routers that are made for marine use, but they can be costly. That’s why it’s not one of the most preferred options for getting internet while at sea.
3. Wi-Fi from the Marina
Wi-Fi service at the marina or other nearby hotspot might be a low-cost option, but it’s not always reliable and convenient. You can connect your phone or laptop straight to it, although it’s not usually easy to acquire a strong connection, especially below deck. When you choose this option, you might want to purchase a Wi-Fi extender.
Wi-Fi extenders for boats usually work the same as those for land use. However, the disadvantage of relying on the local marina’s Wi-Fi is that if you go too far, you won’t be able to connect to the internet. It’s only a viable option if your route follows the shoreline. But, if you’re on a tight budget or don’t want to, then it’s best to make this work.
4. BGAN Systems
Broadband global area network systems are an excellent yet pricey option to get internet on board. It looks like a notebook or a laptop that provides an internet connection while sailing. But in order for them to be connected wirelessly, they must have a good view of the sun and a GPS system. These systems cost around $2,000 to $50,000.
Why Is It Hard to Get Internet at Sea When Sailing
When it comes to building signal towers, we can put them in just about any place on land, but there is no place at sea where we can put them, making it difficult to maintain internet connections. Because few devices have the ability to support long-range connections, most wireless internet alternatives are limited in range.
Also, having a powerful signal tower is useless unless the connected devices have the range to send a signal back. The reception range of common personal devices might be just as little as a few dozen feet. In general, smaller devices tend to be weaker. Moreover, most connections from major providers will likely get spotty if you’re close to the shore. It will completely disappear as you go further away from it.
If you’re heading far out to sea, satellite internet is your best option. As mentioned above, satellite connection isn’t the fastest, and you’ll need some sort of connectivity to the satellite itself to use it. But it’s still a decent internet connection that’s better than no internet at all.
Also read: What is Fiber Internet
While it’s still challenging to find a stable, high-speed internet connection for boats, you still have great options that can deliver a decent connection for essential online activities. With the technology we have right now, it won’t be long until we’re given more options that deliver better connections.