Wifi BoosterWe Install WiFi Boosters Onboard


By Greg Nicoll

I am fortunate to have the ability to work from just about anywhere. A cellular signal and a Wi-Fi connection is about all I really need to put in a full day’s work. The ability to communicate remotely in real time is a true gift that the electronic era has given many of us. Unfortunately, sometimes the Wi-Fi connection can be a problem. This summer I purchased a boat and put it in a marina in Georgian Bay to take advantage of my unique position; work from the boat, live the dream!

Although the marina has spent a great deal of time and money putting in a Wi-Fi network, the 500 neighbours docked along side appear to be competing for limited ‘pipe’ space on the network. The result was my Wi-Fi connection was not up to the capacity that I needed to perform my duties. The poor service and inconsistency turned my plan to convert my boat’s navigation station into a floating office, into wishful thinking.

Back in the office the online search began. I listed my criteria for a successful wireless solution for my boat, and the first one was that it had to be marine grade waterproof and capable of managing the elements. Second, the system had to be one that I could easily install myself, being the frugal sailor. Next, it had to be a robust, stable system that had the flexibility for 3G and 4G data and that had a long-range adaptor. Finally, the most important criteria, had to be user-friendly.

Marinas and yacht clubs use their hardware to connect to an AP (access point) to broadcast a signal. Connections to these "hotspots” are often encrypted and require a password to enter.

Our personal devices search the surrounding area for an AP (access point) that will provide a list of available networks for to us connect to. The router helps your smart TVs, iPads, smart phones and navigation systems etc., find the best routes to avoid creating network congestion.
Sourcing the Internet has several options - Wi-Fi, cellular, or satellite each have limitations such as signal strength, range, and cost factors. Generally, Wi-Fi is cost effective, and the approximate range for a 5GHz is about 150 metres, at 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi is good up to 1500 metres. Cellular signals generally work up to 7-8 kilometres, and satellites are usable mostly everywhere, but at a high cost. As technology grows, so does its demand on everyday devices. Having an internet connection has become a necessity, not just a novelty.
Some tips on keeping your network healthy.

Probably the most overlooked practice is that all networks require downtime. Clearing out any electrostatic build up, killing undetected loops, clearing cache’s, etc., is always important when it comes to network health. This rule holds true even for your home networks. How many times have you just unplugged your router at home and plugged it back in, and whatever problem there was, clears itself up. This is important on a boat to obtain the best and consistent connection.

Also remember that absorption/water kills radio waves and therefore, rain greatly impacts it. Even high humidity has an effect.

Reflection is an issue. Materials like smooth dense metals, reflect signals. This means that when the signal hits the smooth dense object, it bounces off cleanly. Also hindering signals is when the signal collides with a textured surface that breaks the signal apart. This is referred to as scattering. Also, the signal can bend around objects. This is how you’re able to get a signal through large buildings, and narrow streets. It’s called “refraction”.

Refraction is when the signal penetrates an object and is still usable on the other side. Every signal works with some refraction and it is even utilized into antenna designs themselves. As the antenna propagates its signal, it penetrates its fiberglass, rubber, or plastic shell.

All these impedances are not exclusive. Nearly everything in this world will interact with these signals in multiple ways. Glass for instance has a heavy reflection quality, and refraction rate. Meaning that the signal not only bounces off it, but what does penetrate also will break apart, and refract.

The best signal is always a direct line of sight with no impediments.

The optimum connection is through open air. Even then, open air has impedances due to humidity (water particles), wave action, and air debris such as dirt, pollen and metal particles which all scatter a signal. The little antenna in your tablet or wireless device has a tough time competing with all the fibreglass, masts, and stainless surrounding you at the marina.

After my research, I concluded that I was unable to upgrade the marina’s signal, so the next best plan was to increase my reception of that signal, so I sought out a wi-fi booster that amplifies the signal at the maximum legal output, that could provide large coverage for the areas where I keep my boat moored and on the water where I cruise.

After looking at many products on the market, I chose the Wirie Pro from Island Consulting Inc., a company founded in 2003 and located in Newbury, Massachusetts USA. The owners of the company, after spending years cruising the seas, learned a lot through their experience and personal relationships with cruisers they met on the way. This experience along with their background knowledge of computer software and hardware resulted in the Wirie. The two-in-one Wirie Pro device allows users to connect using either a shore-based Wi-Fi network or cellular service.

The Wirie was simple to install right from the box. The antenna, radio device, local router and cellular data system are all one connected unit. I mounted the yellow box and omni-directional antenna on the support rod for my bimini top, drilled a hole through the deck coaming and ran the line to the panel box. I’m not the most knowledgeable electrical guy in the world and I chose to wire it into a 12 V cigarette lighter which preserves polarity and had it working right away. The instructions that came with the Wi-Fi booster were simple to follow and with a few passwords, my computer could lock onto a seamless strong signal and I was back in business. It was amazing that right after the installation, I went from not getting any Wi-Fi at my dock to being able to watch movies… oh, and to keep in contact with my business associates.

If I can do it, you can do it. More boat time and less office time is possible!

A big thank you to Jeff Graham from Wave WIFI in Oakland Park Florida who gave a very informative presentation at the 2017 International Boat Builders Exposition on Networking and Wireless Connectivity Overview for Today’s Vessels, and Marinas.

Related Articles

Destinations

  • Prev
Following the harsh impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, The British Virgin Islands is making an ...
For the adventurous boater Bunsby Marine Provincial Park is a special place, situated due south of ...
We’re gliding through green-blue waters, colours so vivid and bright they hurt your eyes. We’re set ...
The Halifax waterfront has been attracting more and more large yachts in recent years. However, a ...
Ah Canadian simplicity at its finest; small town, big marina. Little Hilton Beach (population ...
Vancouver-based Big Blue Yacht Charters Worldwide owner Emma Murdoch explains that luxury crewed ...
In the 1920s, a small cove in Canoe Bay was used as a shipping point and safe-haven for rum runners ...
Here’s an update from Caroline Swann with some news for the adventurous types who may be heading to ...
The New Glasgow marina is located about six miles up the East River of Pictou in the heart of the ...
The British Virgins took a huge hit last fall from Irma. Boats were stranded on the shore by the ...

Mediterranean Shakedown: A Summer Cruise in Spain

Mediterranean ShakedownBy Sheryl and Paul Shard

This summer my husband, Paul, and I bought our fourth offshore cruising boat, a new Southerly 480 built by Discovery Yachts in the UK. It’s a unique boat with a retractable variable-draft swing keel giving you the option of sailing with a deep draft of 3.1 metres when the keel is down or just less than a metre with the keel fully retracted. Southerly Yachts are great for bluewater sailing and also for gunkholing in shallow creeks and inland waterways. You can even dry them out at low tide so they are is the perfect boat for the type of exploring we like to do. Our new boat, Distant Shores III, is the third Southerly Yacht that we’ve owned over 29 years of international cruising to destinations in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Middle East, UK, Scandinavia and South America. This boat we plan to sail to the South Pacific.

Read more about the Shards' cruise in Spain...

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
This issue, to kick off 2019, we have an unofficial Photo of the week and this, the unofficial ...
Readers give us a bit of feedback on the 60th anniversary of the Shark 24
We are home for Christmas this year. Soon we will be heading back to Adamant 1 for another winter ...
This past October we drove to Telegraph Cove with friends and spent a day of wonder cruising the ...
We have kept our subscription to Canadian Yacht Onboard as we have traveled the South Pacific over ...
Stuart Walker a legend in competitive sailing passed away on November 12, 2018 in Annapolis. Stuart ...
“In Grenada, we had about 80 cruiser kids visit our boat...by dinghy of course! Sometimes you ...
Austin Edwards told students and parents at the Saanich School’s “Parents as Informed Partners” ...
As the sole arbiter of the Photo of the Week I, your editor, get to make the choice. This week, ...
Michele Stevens pointed us to this interesting project which recently came to fruition in Cape ...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
To get you in the mood for cruising the Boat Show then launching in spring, here’s a boat that ...
Quite simply, the styles of boats have changed. Where in past years a buyer might have been looking ...
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the ...
Tactical Custom Boats announces the sale to a North American client of a custom Tactical 77’ – Fast ...
Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...
One often asks of a winning achievement or a fabulous design, could it have possibly been done ...
The latest new model from Cruisers Yachts is the Cantius 42 and this yacht made its debut in the ...
The Sabre 45 Salon Express is new for 2017, making its debut at the Fort Lauderdale International ...

Beneteau Antares 27

Beneteau Antares 27By Andy Adams and John Armstrong

You have to love it when something exceeds your expectations on so many levels; the new Antares 27 from Beneteau looks to me like that sort of all-around overachiever.

This is a brand new express cruiser design. With twin Mercury 200 V6 outboards, it delivers impressive performance, a reassuring and comfortable ride, and a level of versatility that will enable this boat to be your vacation partner for all sorts of adventures.

Read more about the Antares 27...

 

 

 

 

Hanse 388

Hanse 388By Katherine Stone

The Hanse group produced their second most popular boat of all time with the Hanse 385. The trick was to build on that winning formula when they upgraded to the Hanse 388, which they have done in spades. The German build quality is first rate and true to the Hanse tradition. Leaving the hull the same with a steep stern and straight stem for an optimal long water line, they went with a slightly stiffer, heavier displacement, new deck, interior layout and window line. Hanse’s highly experienced yacht construction team, judel/vrolijk & co., have combined ease of sailing, comfort and performance into the newly designed Hanse 388.

Read More about the Hanse 388...

 

 

 

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Winter is a great time to look at some of the hidden spaces on your boat – to take stock of what is ...
When a boat is in the water, the bilge will often collect water that enters the boat from weather, ...
Recently I suggested doing an off-season (winter) project with a potential client, and my ...
A recent conversation with a fellow contractor got me thinking: With all of the information out ...
As the cold approaches, shrink-wrapping is a hot topic, and I’ve heard more than a few debates at ...
Nothing stops a vacation faster than a problem with the fresh water system – be it leaks, smells, ...
Pyrotechnic distress flares have been around for decades, while electronic strobe distress flares ...
Most of us don’t give a second thought to our sacrificial anodes – those curious knobs of raw metal ...
In this time of boat show afterglow, many boaters are counting the days until launch. 

Ask Andrew: Electrical Installations – Part 1: Electrical Connections - basics and how-to’s

Electrical InstallationsBy Andrew McDonald

Winter is a great time to look at some of the hidden spaces on your boat – to take stock of what is aboard, areas of improvement and ways to upgrade.

One of the most common jobs that I’m asked to look at are electrical installations and upgrades. Surprisingly, the majority of these types of jobs are to ‘clean up’ the wiring of years past – when electrical standards were more fluid, and jury-rigged upgrades have been added and adapted over multiple owners and contractors.

Read More about Electrical Installations Basics...