Nobody in their right mind would want to venture out to sea with no means of communication. After all, loved ones need to know how we’re doing, we need a way to call for help in case of an emergency, and last but not least, for entertainment while away from local stores.
Out in the open sea or along the coastal waters, communication is as good as it’s ever been. Transatlantic travelers using satellite antennas set up along with cellular boosting devices that can be used while sailing along the coast are just some of the possibilities that are now available.
A few hundred bucks can get us a lot of alternatives, while some can cost us tens of thousands. Choosing the finest internet service for catamaran will depend on where we are going, the amount of data we’ll need, and ultimately, what our budget dictates.
Let’s look at the various price points for marine internet services as well as the three means of internet connection while out at sea or on the waterway.
What Does the Internet Cost On a Catamaran?
You can connect to the internet while sailing using any one of three methods.
- Your smartphone’s data plan with which you’ll need a mobile hotspot or your cellphone with its data plan, as well as a booster.
- There are both private and public Wi-Fi hot spots (requiring your gadget + amplifier or extension to improve the connection) at ports and marinas
- A satellite antenna, data plan, plus tablet, laptop, or gadget are all needed for using the internet through satellite.
There is a big difference in cost between the satellite internet on land and when cruising in a catamaran. Equipment can cost a few thousand dollars, based on the arrangement you have in place.
One low-bandwidth satellite phone device, Garmin’s inReach Explorer+, is a low-bandwidth that costs upward of $400. It comes with texting features, mapping, and GPS. You’ll require an Iridium talk and text satellite plan, costing $350.00 for the first six months of service.
Knowing Which Internet Service to Use When Boating
In The Wide Ocean
Only a satellite phone, a satellite hotspot, or a satellite antenna will work once you’ve left the coast and entered international waters.
In a Marina
Wi-Fi hotspots may be available at some marinas for visitors to use while they’re there. If you have a booster, you may typically get a decent signal in docks and marinas. We recommend utilizing a signal booster to get a strong signal because boats reflect cell phone signals.
Along the Coast and Lakes
You may typically acquire a cell phone signal with a booster on lakes and shorelines. Because it’s cellular service, expect the unexpected. Cellular signals can be boosted up to 20 miles offshore with some of the gear we propose.
Our top choice is the MobilSat cellular network. As an all-inclusive package, it provides an additional 20 miles of cellular range. It’s a great tool for people who want to take their boats out on the water, whether they’re cruising the coast or navigating lakes and rivers.
There are some places where it won’t function, but it’s a good option for sailing because it’s cheap and easy to use. There is a good chance that you won’t be able to use cellular data when out at sea. No matter how much you spend on a signal booster, you’ll never be as fast as a person with a straight line of sight to cell phone towers.
You won’t have a signal once you’ve left the cellular service area of the nearest port or started sailing away from it. Because of this, having a satellite phone on board for emergencies is always a good idea.
Cellular internet has a lower cost, which is a benefit to sailors. Satellite configurations are significantly more expensive than cellular systems. For less than $2,000, you can get everything you need, including a cellular modem, router, and the best available booster, even on a boat.
The cost of cellular data plans is low. Satellite data for maritime vessels cost $300 or more per GB, but cellular data costs $5 or less per GB. So, even if they have a satellite link for deepwater expeditions, most boats use cellular as much as feasible.
Many Wi-fi Boosters Work Well On Boats
Using the marina Wi-Fi while docked is the cheapest option to get online aboard a boat, but public Wi-Fi is notoriously unstable. Wi-Fi hotspots are common in marinas, docks, harbors, yacht clubs, and ports.
The marina’s free Wi-Fi can be accessed on your boat with the help of an effective Wi-Fi booster. Investing in one is worth your while.
What Are Your Plans for the Internet?
Internet connectivity will have an impact on the products you need to buy for your ship, as will the type of internet access you want. When it comes to purchasing GPS and marine electronics, as mentioned earlier, there are several great options.
Installing a satellite dish will allow you to connect to the internet even if you’re at sea, but you’ll need a satellite internet service provider to make it happen first. This is the most convenient option because you can access it whenever you need or desire.
As with a laptop or a smartphone, you can have the same kind of internet connection as your tablet as well. Only when you’re in a port and can pick up the wireless signal is this possible. It’s simple enough to use the internet while in port or at a marina by connecting to a wireless hotspot using your computer or mobile phone.
What’s Your Internet Budget?
For a yacht, like with any other purchase, it’s important to keep costs in mind.
To get online from anywhere, you’ll need a satellite dish, but it’s going to cost an arm and a leg. Not only does the dish cost $300 to $500, but so does the real cost of using it, which can range from $200 per month to $3 per minute. Access will be available from any location, but it will cost a lot.
If you only use it when traveling, the cost of portable wireless internet is a much fairer plan for a phone costs $50-70 per month. However, when you’re at sea, this is not possible. It’s only usable in port.
The cheapest and least reliable alternative is to use public wireless hotspots. Although some marinas have dependable internet access, it is not guaranteed, and since they are free, it is possible that they will have significant traffic and the connection could be intermittent.
What to Take into Account for Marine Internet
Take into account how different people react to different things when evaluating your selections. The family man might want to be able to communicate with his loved ones frequently, while the loner would be fine with simply checking in every few weeks.
Those who prefer to go with the flow may not require a constant connection to the internet, while those who are more methodical in their approach may prefer to have it available at all times.
If you’re still undecided, the following may help:
You need to decide whether or not you’re willing to give up some of your internet possibilities to get online whenever you want, as well as whether or not you can afford to pay for the convenience of being able to connect at any time.
The length of your voyage
Choose the right option that best fits your needs, then purchase the necessary instruments to get online as you choose. Set up your yacht so that you may get an internet plan that matches your demands, no matter where you travel.
Your only choice once you leave the coast and are no longer under the coverage of cellular towers is to use a satellite. A satellite hotspot or antenna must be installed on your yacht to receive service while out at sea. VSAT internet, Seacat, iDirect, and other providers offer global satellite internet service options.
Why Sailors Prefer Satellites
Satellite phone and SMS services are preferred by many sailors because of the prohibitive data costs at sea. The Iridium GO! Satellite Wi-Fi Hotspot offers a satellite communication service with a maximum data rate of 2.5 kbps.
There is a built-in SOS button on the Iridium Go for emergencies. Prepaid internet cards for the Iridium Go are a great place to start learning about your data plan possibilities.
A comparable arrangement, the Garmin inReach Explorer+, provides navigation, emergency services, plus routing from around the globe. The Garmin inReach requires you to subscribe to the service package at the time of purchase.
What’s Your Internet Choice?
It’s quite simple and convenient to connect to the cellular internet while on a watercraft when you’re near land. You can use it to listen to music and check your email for a reasonable price. If you’ve got the necessary gear, you may therefore take advantage of free Wi-Fi spots at marinas and docks.
Sailing into the middle of the ocean requires a hotspot device or satellite phone, which we highly recommend for the truly daring. Communication via satellite is the most dependable means of connecting in very distant regions, even if only for navigation and emergencies.