(Only $375, plus shipping)
Just about every marina offers “free WiFi” for their tenants and guests these days. Problem is, the signal is usually pretty weak and you practically have to be sitting inside the marina office to log on. Not particularly convenient if you need to order some obscure part online in the middle of the night, or update your clever and captivating sailboat blog and your floating home is a few hundred feet away from the signal source.
Several months ago searching for something completely unrelated, I stumbled upon this website. They demo and write reviews for all sorts of marinized electronic gadgets and this is how I found out about the Wave Rogue WiFi antenna. Supposedly it will pick up a public hot spot from up to 7 miles away line-of-site (depending on buildings, trees, other boats in the way, etc.). Hell, at this point I’d be satisfied with spitting distance!! Web based interface means no software to install, it works with Mac or PC, add a wireless router and share the connection with all your smartphones, laptops, iPads, etc. It’s basically plug & play, and I believe the website even says something to the effect that any idiot should be able set it up in 30 minutes or less. SOLD!!
One week later the Big Brown Truck comes rumbling up to the marina office and I’m there like a kid on Christmas morning (did I mention suffering from internet withdrawal?). The only real difficult task during the installation was fishing the ethernet cable up the inside of our Garhauer radar tower, which took a couple hours and required unbolting and laying it down on the deck since some genius decided to fill it full of expanding spray foam. But once the tower was bolted back up and standing tall once again, the rest of the installation and startup literally took another 10 minutes. Plug in the router, power up the antenna, open a browser window, and click on the hot spot you want to log onto. Piece of cake. We chose our marina since its signal was the strongest, but the list of available (albeit weaker) WiFi signals to pick from was showing us resorts, marinas, and private residences as far as 2.5 to 3.5 miles away. Not too shabby considering trees and what not interfering with the signal.
Needless to say I’m a happy man now that our computers and phones are once again connected to the internet, and even better that we’re getting our WiFi for “free” now. I wonder if it would have been cheaper just to increase our cellular data plan?