Jeff cruises south, cell yay, WiFi nay
One trend I’ve been enjoying lately is cruising blogs, like Faye and Gary Hussion’s Hullaballoo to St. Vincent trip, and Jeff and Karen Siegel’s aCappella Maine to North Carolina delivery just completed. There’s also Collin’s elegant ruminations on Building Galene (and don’t miss his PlasticBoat cap, useful for annoying the woody zealots).
I’d bet there are 100’s of blogs like these out there—wonderful for tapping into boat passion, and wells of useful info—but Jeff Siegel is a man apart. For years now he has been collecting and sharing valuable information on cruising communications (mostly via Trawlers-and-trawling). Last summer, for instance, he posted a thorough entry on his cell amp testing, and now has just posted his cell and WiFi experience during that 1,000 mile coastal trip. I recommend reading the full posts, but here are some highlights:
“My general finding is that WiFi isn’t worth the effort of all the special hardware any longer. This is a sad conclusion. I’ve been using much of this WiFi hardware over the last three years with stellar success in the beginning.
…My story isn’t all bad. In fact, my “connected boat” experience during the last five weeks has been the best experience that I’ve ever had with being connected on the water. Where WiFi has fallen off, cellular has picked up the ball with amazing results.
I maintained a continuous Internet connection WHILE UNDERWAY from Maine to North Carolina except in one 25 mile spot. This included sections where I was offshore: Maine (3-10 miles), Boston (12 miles), Long Island (10 miles), New Jersey (4-5 miles). The only dead zone that I experienced was along most of the Alligator-Pungo Canal in North Carolina.”
Good news, eh? Jeff will do more testing in a few months during leg two to the Bahamas (plus he continues to work on the next, very interesting, iteration of Activemap). His cell set up, by the way, is:
1. Wilson wired GSM dual-frequency cellular amplifier.
2. LMR-400 coax.
3. The best quality connectors possible.
4. Special connectors removing the need for any “patch” cables.
5. Shakespeare 4dB cellular antenna.
6. Cingular $40/mo all-you-can-eat data plan (to phones & PCs).
PS And how about V.I.V.A., the online log of a Vinalhaven voc ed teacher sailing to Florida and back with some of his students, and some comms gear Jeff helped spec out (small world).