found many of these services to be unreliable. With sufficient speed (and not too
many people sharing the transmitter) you
may be able make phone calls using VoIP
(Voice over Internet Protocol) technology.
There are numerous Wi-Fi signal enhancers
that you can purchase from retailers such as
office-supply stores. These can be very helpful bringing in a weak hot spot signal.
If you don’t want to hang out in Wi-Fi
hot spots and want to travel to more remote
anchorages with questionable coverage, you
can enhance data reception of air cards and
related equipment, including cellphones, by
signal boosters. Cellphone towers are often
oriented to the land.
We use a cellphone antenna made by
Digital Antenna ( www.DigitalAntenna.com),
a company specializing in enhancing mobile
communications. The antenna is mounted as
high as possible — in our case, atop our miz-
zen mast. Down inside the boat, we also use
their DA 4000SBR amplifier that boosts the
signal received by the antenna. The amplifier
is connected to a small antenna mounted in
the boat. It’s like our own mini cellphone
tower. This greatly increases our cellphone
voice and data coverage. (Use the wire and
connections they recommend, because infe-
rior equipment can significantly diminish
signal.) We only get air cards that have an
external antenna port so that we have the
option of direct-wiring an external antenna to
the device if needed. This helps significantly
in some areas.
is used by many long-distance cruisers as
an experienced, one-stop-shop company
that can help with what you need for your
Traveling farther offshore, you need other
equipment. You can get online almost anywhere in the ocean via satellite using equipment from KVH ( www.kvh.com). Prices
have come down for this equipment. This
can give you Internet access from the middle
of nowhere, but also TV and music, and
voice access. It’s also possible to send
e-mail via SSB with the right equipment.
Interested? Google terms such as “e-mail
SSB.” Compression programs can help with
this methodology. However, we’ve found
SSB to be unsuitable for our purposes,
which include long e-mails with attachments
and Internet surfing.
Tom Neale is a BoatU.S. Magazine
contributing editor and a key member of our
“Ask The Experts” tech team.
EAST COAST ALERTS: EVERY TWO WEEKS, TOM AND MEL NEALE TAKE “NOTICES TO MARINERS,” AND
REPORTS TO PRODUCE EXCLUSIVE UPDATES FOR BOATU.S. MEMBERS. WWW.BOATUS.COM/ALERTS
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