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Date: 3 January 2015. Bandwidth Blues (internet afloat)


It is true: I love life afloat. That said, even though I have gotten away from it all I do want my internet. And at the Seaweed state of finances, it has to be inexpensive. Free would be wonderful, however the days of open wifi are sadly over. Now, even if the connection is unlocked, web-surfing is shut down. But what does all that mean?


Web-hosting (specifically stuff like this website) is a different matter entirely from the focus of this article. What I place and your use/viewing of same on janice142.com are not discussed in Bandwidth Blues (internet afloat). If however you own your own domain I do recommend the company I have used for the past several years:

The price is very economical and the up-time is good too.

I have the least expensive plan and thus far have been pleased with all aspects of WHB's service.


In order to go online, download and read email or even do something like uploading pictures for this website, I need bandwidth. And boy, oh yacht-boy, are there options.

In the old days I'd cruise along looking for the computer to connect to an open wifi source, then would anchor as close by as possible. Though that sounds wonderful on the surface, there were problems.

  1. The connection would disappear when I tried to click.

  2. A Password request would come up.

  3. Or nothing happened at all even though I appeared to be connected and able to surf.

    Bah, Humbug!


See buildings, scan for unlocked wifi, anchor. Then prepare to be disappointed.


For some, a cell phone works well. That is what my Kidlet does. She surfs via her cell phone. She has been with Verizon long enough to have her unlimited bandwidth grandfathered-in. Though that sounds and is great, those "free" phones you get on renewal of contract do not exist with her plan status.

Still, it works for her.

Donald in Minnesota asked "How do you get internet on Seaweed, like wireless or what do I need to buy to get that working???"

T-Mobile, AT&T, Walmart, Verizon and more offer wireless plans for folks who want to be online at will. I am with Verizon and pay $50.08 per month for five gigs. I have passed the contract requirement (two years) so am month-to-month at this point.

The initial plan offered four gigs per month. When I mentioned last autumn I'd be shopping for a better deal at the expiration of my contract, the four was upped to five gigs.

Alas, the five is still not enough. Proof follows:

I have used 4.981 of my 5 gig allotment. Ouch.

Of course I can use more, and Verizon is perfectly happy to bill me for the extra. It is $15 per gig or portion thereof for being stupid. I simply cannot afford that added expense. The connection itself is stretching my budget. The cost is over $600 per year and that is a lot of perfectly good money.


The Verizon wireless plan is also my means of communicating with the outside world. Without this aboard Seaweed I was lonely and felt out-of-touch with the everything. Phone calls with friends were my only source of information. When things went wrong on the boat (the fuel pick-up line fiasco comes to mind) it was friends who offered options to try while attempting to sort out the problem.

Still, I prefer to rely on myself first.

I suspect a rather strong streak of independence would be
found a common denominator in most successful boaters.

The internet is a valuable source of information. For instance, TrawlerForum [http://trawlerforum.com] has some of the smartest Doing-It folks around. It is one of my favorite places to learn what is working in the real world of power boating.


Side Note: If you're considering a specific brand of vessel, seek out the owner's forum for that boat. That is where you will find people with experience who know their stuff. It is worth the time to learn pitfalls and solutions for your particular vessel. Believe me, most problems have been solved before yours appeared. And there are probably at least two or three ways to fix said issue. Let others knowledge be your guide.

For me, I prefer to do research first before asking the question in most cases. That way I have a basis to rely on when judging the options offered. In that regard, a wifi connection aboard Seaweed was a wished-for item since the get-go. On year four I chose Verizon and had the USB gizmo shipped to me.

Friends Jewell and Frank were kind enough to allow me  to have a box sent to their home. You met those kind folks in the By the Shipyard article. They are just the nicest couple... truly in love and that is always wonderful to witness.

The Verizon flash drive gizmo attaches via USB to my computer. It's the one on the left.

Each time I sign on the internet a small box pops up showing my usage through the month. (My month restarts on the 7th incidentally.) Thus I generally try to have all my pictures uploaded early so that when the end comes I can still go online and check email, etc. This is a delicate balancing act to ensure I have the photos I need along with the bandwidth to visit sites like Trawler Forum.

This past month (December 2014) I was a bit frivolous wandering around the internet. Five gigs sounds like a lot at the beginning of the month but by week three, it is not nearly enough.

And specifically, I never (not once!) visit You-Tube nor do I watch anything streaming, listen to music online, steal movies, etc. There simply is not enough bandwidth in my plan to do any of those things. Heck, a movie (in HD) could easily "cost" 7 gigs.

In the forest outside of Carrabelle my Verizon phone did have bars. I could make and receive phone calls.

What I do appreciate about Verizon is in this area connecting is easy, stable and fast. While in Carrabelle for my engine swaps I have been out in the country visiting new friends where my phone was the only one with a signal. The wifi gizmo works off the phone system. If there is a bar on the regular phone, the internet gizmo will function.


The company you select should meet the following criteria:

  1. Coverage should be spectacular. It matters not what something costs if you cannot connect to the internet. Price isn't everything.

  2. Speak with locals -- they will know what companies work and what do not do so well in the area.

  3. Online forums can offer advice for specific cruising grounds, however buy for what you are going to use immediately.

  4. It is best to have customer service based in the United States. You do not want to deal with someone when having an issue who doesnot understand the nuances of the language you are most familiar with.

  5. Seek either a short-term contract or none if at all possible. I was locked in to two years (ouch!) however it has worked for me. My coverage is outstanding and that was the most critical component in my decision making process.


I had service in the middle of nowhere on Saul Creek. I wrote
about that place in the
Silence Reigns (Saul Creek) article.

Whatever company you opt for, I wish you well. I am much happier with Verizon now that I know that I can say "kiss my transom" were another company to come along that better suits me. For the time being however I like being with a big-guy who will presumably be there for the long-term.

Do not even get me started on the Verizon cell phone warranty however. Specifically the replacement with "comparable" phone portion, because it is ugly. I am not at all happy. And the dumb phone (I do not do smart ones) they sent sucks bilge water. I am stuck and I absolutely hate, detest and abhor it.  But that is another story...

What wifi company did you chose for your life afloat? Where are you based?
Are you pleased with the service and coverage?

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