So you brought your laptop cruising and you are in your salon thinking… “I’d like to see if there are any Wifi hotspots that I can access so I can connect with the outside world”. You check and see there is like one hotspot and it’s hit or miss and you have to keep re-connecting (as the boat oscillates in the wind)… You are determined, so you go up to the fly bridge (if you have one) and try it from there. It’s slightly better, but not too much. Now what? You ditch that and go do something else I’m guessing…
If that was you, I might have a $40 solution for you. If you are a little more technically savvy, I have a whole boat solution for you. I will log what I see in the places we stay too so you get an idea.
1) You need a strong USB wifi device – like this. They have a lot of models of this device, but from the reviews, you’ll see that the one I selected is highly rated for 802.11 B and G. I kind-of doubt the access points you are trying to hit are “N”. $24.
2) While this is pretty good for distance (the USB cable is about 10 feet) and you can get the antenna up and away from things easily. I recommend that you grab this USB extender from Monoprice. $8 for 30 feet… You could go 16 feet for $5.
3) Remember to turn off the wifi on your laptop because you won’t need it. You can run this antenna up higher on your boat and it might work even better. Keep in mind that it’s not waterproof, so don’t leave it out.
That should be all you need to do to see the internet access points in the area. Your only problem now is that the access points might not be “open”, and you’ll need to know the password. If you spend a couple dollars in a few businesses, they should tell you their wifi password.
In part 2 I show you my results from the Grenadines
In part 3 I show you how to share this wifi with the rest of your boat so all your devices have access