View Full Version : Liveaboard Internet

04-03-06, 11:16
I am currently fitting out my Prout Snowgoose 37 for a life afloat when I retire in 3 years time.
I would be interested to know how you floaters access this site. Is it from your boat through Imarsat, SSB or visiting internet cafes. What are the pros and cons.
Love reading some of the blogs

04-03-06, 11:18
I use WiFi, when it's available in marinas or anchored near to towns/marinas, but also internet cafe's. Mobile phone can be used, when close enough, with GPRS etc. but expensive.

Most cruising liveaboards I know, use WiFi, when in a marina, if available and internet cafes when not.

04-03-06, 12:33

I use SSB for sending and receiving mail and weather information. WiFi is great for internet when in marina or near trasmitter (if unsecured it is free /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif). In some areas anly option is internet caffe. Mobile phone GPRS not used due to price.


04-03-06, 18:59
Any of you guys use Skymate ??
I am thinking to buy one of this system for my boat .
So far I think it is the cheapest way to communicate up to 1500 miles from the coast !!
They use that quite a lot in the USA and I think there is coverage in Europe !!
Anybody know more about this ??

04-03-06, 19:39
I looked at it back in 2003 when it had just come out. I was in Washington on business so I called into their offices in Arlington. My inpression was yes, it's OK but given that the sub only included a limited number of characters per month, it was actually quite expensive to run. I ended up getting a Globalstar phone which was been great for data and during my transat, not overly expensive (£200 for phone, £20 month + 50p per min) and handy for voice calls too.

05-03-06, 08:24
Sorry, 200 for the phone, 20 a month and 0.5 a minute, not overly expensive??? Thats way out of a hell of a olot of peoples cruising budgets!
Where did you get a globalstar phone for 200 anyway!!??

05-03-06, 09:41
OK, make a quick search on various systems !!
Best of all is Iridium !! Global coverage ...
But extremely expensive !! Around GBL 1 /mn for acessing the net!!
Think how many hours you guys are lurking on these forums !!
Globalstar is about the same thing !!
Immarsat ?? Don't even think about it !!
Except if you have family relations in the oil industry !!!!!
Thuraya is a bit cheaper but coverage is not global !!
Actually it is quite good if you stay in Europe/med/indian ocean/india ..No coverage around Americas.
I have seen Thuraya phones for sale in various airport dutyfree ,cheapest Dubai $600 !!
So I still think Skymate is more on my budget !!
They have various service plans !
Cheapest cost $ 15.99/month with 8000 caracters + 2 free automatic position daily !! direct on your website !!
Quite handy for your friends to know where you are !!
But that smell of Big Brother also !!
Additional cost is $ 2 for extra 1000 caracters !!
One of their good plan is the drydock one for $ 4.99/Month when you leave your boat in a marina !!
You can check your bilge pump from home !!
At the moment ,as I am rebuilding my boat in Napa Valley Marina and they do not have WiFi (I am trying to sweet talk them to install a system !!??) I just get a contract with T-Mobile and check my Emails in a local Starbucks Coffee !!

Visit my website if you have time !! Thanks :
www.mavourneen-mary.com (http://www.mavourneen-mary.com)

05-03-06, 11:50
Whats absolutely certain is, any system you might consider now will be obsolete in 3 years time.

With wifi, the new standard 802.11n is set to be introduced in the next two years (Up to 10x faster) and the range is being increased gradually all the time.

Service suppliers prices and packages of phone cards are dropping all the time too. (I use Vodaphone at the moment from a laptop and find it works well even on remote islands in Greece. Cost is £10 a month for 15meg,)

I'd watch the developments closely over the next few years and purchase just before leaving!

05-03-06, 19:21
ccscott - the point I was trying to make was that if you're gonna send anything more than a few very short emails, the route I chose was cheaper than the Skymate. Also, I thought 50p per min was pretty good for a sat phone, much cheaper than using a regular mobile phone abroad.

Where: £200 Globalstar phone - Ebay, (quite a bit less than £200).

I'm not advocating using GStar on shore, marina etc, as Wifi or Internet cafe is surely best for that. Just I was really impressed with the setup I had during a transat - worked well every day, great for waether, lots of emails and very easy to use.

05-03-06, 19:50
If you are going to be in one marina or yard for much of the fitting out time you might consider getting BT to install a phone line and subscribing to broadband! It will cost you about £75 for a 'new location', which might involve some serious cable runs) and then they leave you with a wire with an external box on the end. You plug in an extension lead and run it to the boat.

As we run a business on the boat, we have calculated that if in oone place for more than 6 months it pays us, given the outrageous rices of most wifi and the slowness and cost of GPRS - and that satellite is not even in the game financially.

This of course does not apply if you are wandering around.

05-03-06, 21:59
Thanks for the info. I guess I will wait a couple of years to see how the technology and systems develop and hope the costs come down.
My general conclusions are that SSB is good for net communications ,weather information and slow emails but for ultimate safety a sat phone is useful. Other wise internet access is only viable whilst attached to a civilized location.

06-03-06, 10:29
From what ive seen most spend far longer tied up in harbours than at sea,so you ought to find a wi-fi connection!!

If your on a buget as small as mine then you will have to anchor a lot then you will need a very directional yaggi type anntenna for wi-fi otherwise portable phone

You will find you wont want to be online that offten sitting in a cafe of below emailing or chating in summers when its hot!
Youll want to be exploring cool places or swiming if the waters clean,then reading the paper/book or rowing accros to have an aperative or getting the same ready on your boat waiting for others to arrive!

The last thing youll want is to be on a phone or at yout laptop or PDA!!

06-03-06, 10:52
Quite right Trouville!
Internet browsing is for the non sailing months.
I haven't found internet cafe wx fcsts that reliable either, too general for local use
usually. Automatic reception of Navtex and RTTY is much more informative.
Use mobile texts for cheap contact with friends. Although phones big enough for sailors
fat fingers are hard to find. Easyroam may be worth investigating.

06-03-06, 12:59
Totally agree! WiFi for winter, SMS for summer. Plus lots of bars have internet now!! No need to seak out a Cafe!

06-03-06, 14:12
In principal I agree with the above sentiments. However, I depend on the Internet for my business. Thus with the advent of Wifi, this means I can head off sailing for a year and also manage to keep up to date with work. Of course I'd prefer not to work............

06-03-06, 16:36
when its for work then you could easly justify a sat phone for when you have no other connection.

For SMS there really isent a chose, i use what is now a museum piece thats a Erricson A1018s (indestructable) with a "chat board" --attachable key board to send SMSs.and receive on whatever phone i have with me.

Last year i used as GPRS/Bluetooth phone a sony erricson 630 super phone by now really inexpensive but has a very very small memory so SMSs have soon to be deleated befor new can be read, I also found the camera very useful--more so when my laptop deleated almost my whole years images from my camera!!

This year i will take a Nokia 6020 (ithink it was) again bluetooth/gprs but can send extended SMSs this time i want to try a bluetooth key board!! (the Nokias far less costly than a sony erricson k750i)

Problem is the bluetooth keyboards sold for between £10 and£30 are bigger than my cabin!! Small ones cost well over$100 and only found in the USA???

On the subject of SMS many providers give free SMSs (i have 60 PM) sent by internet) I use those when im with my PDA and have a wi-fi connection.

10-03-06, 21:10
You got there before me - but wait 2.9 years. I am doing this on a 3G phone - expensive, but reasonable when it works - just about does Google Earth.

Try to remember how poor things were 2.9 years ago. This is a fast changing technology. There is somethiing supposed to be coming called WiMax. Wait as long as you can - it can only get faster and cheaper.

When I read detective books I have to remind myself that it used to be normal to have to go to a phone box :-)

10-03-06, 22:55
A Prout Snowgoose 37.

Wow.... why are you in the least bit concerned about access to this or any internet web sites??? Unless its your buisiness of course!

Yes I could justify a phone for emergency or the odd call back to family, a Nasa Navtex for weather & an EPIRB for help. but an internet connection...please! where are we going with all this crap??? /forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif


10-03-06, 23:26
Just be careful using a mobile to get your email if using outlook- I once set mine off to download a couple of messages and then disconnect while in port in Malta and went off to dinner without further thought. Came back 45mins later and found it had hung up on one message. It turned out to be a VERY expensive call. I think it was about 85 pounds. Gulp.
With all the yah flats being built around Ipswich docks now, I hope some loose signals will become present soon.

11-03-06, 02:41
Wow.... why are you in the least bit concerned about access to this or any internet web sites??? Unless its your buisiness of course!

[/ QUOTE ]

I think you misread the question Poter. He asked how people access the internet, not whether you would give him permission to or not.

Clearly you access the internet, and this site, so why on earth shouldn't he want to? What's the difference accessing the internet from home or from a boat?

please! where are we going with all this crap???

[/ QUOTE ]
If he intends living on a boat, then hopefully to a place where people don't try and ram their ideas of how others should live down each others throats. You do your thing, and let others do theirs.

11-03-06, 09:12
Many many apologies, for making a comment, I thought we lived in a free society, not a police state!

I was in no way trying to ram anything down his or anybody else's throat, but if you are now the forum advisor I accede to your view.

I bet you are really quite a nice chap!


11-03-06, 09:42
There are lots of options but in our opinion no simple and cheap solutions. We have been following the development of mobile networking for more years than is polite to say as it's (broadly speaking) how we earn a living when ashore. We have trouble keeping up with the technology and that is suppose to be a large part of what we do!

Some form of wireless connection is I believe the way to go but there are many to choose from and lots are mis-used or configured poorly.

I use 3G on the boat when inrange as this provides the best speed but for most it's expensive (this is likely to change in the near future).

GPRS is usable if you configure both it and your access device (phone, PC, Mac etc..) correctly but it is much slower than other methods. I've found a common problem here that prople believe they are using GPRS when they are in fact using a 'Mobile modem' connection. Configurationj is important here but you need someone to set it all up for you if in dbout., And every phone/Service provider/netwqork is different AND it may actually be cheaper to use 3G (I'v enot done the sums but it's got to be close)

More and more WiFi networks are being installed - some towns are providing 'free' Wifi networks to all. This is more common in the USA but happening in Europe now (even in the if we can charge for it we will UK).

As always the technology here cycles every 18months or so something better is always around the corner.The BGAN satelight system is one such promise and Iridum is rapidly reducing it's prices although still very poor value for money.

Good luck with whatever system you choose the rule of thumb is that the cheaper it is th eslower and more complocated it will be to use. I know other people in here will disagree with this but then MACs are better tha PC's and I would always advise you to get a PC. /forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

11-03-06, 12:15
Actually I agree with him. Your comments were a little un-called for.

11-03-06, 12:26
Yes and No? Theoretically internet access at sea sounds great,a sensible tool,run a business, font of knowledge,communication and expertise etc....
In reality for some its just another excuse to loiter in port surfing--''men and boats rot in harbour''--and nothing wrong with that either,each to their own.

But as a thread topic in a forum dedicated to 'getting away from it all' to a simpler life afloat ,well,it looks a little silly to me too,one more'indespensible'to drag along and pay for!

11-03-06, 14:49
Not trying to be forum advisor at all Poter, in fact quite the opposite.

The poor chap asked others how they accessed the internet and rather than offer any help you suggested that he shouldn't be doing it in the first place unless it's for reasons you deemed neccessary, without even knowing why he was asking.

Now he may well be a sensitive kind of chap, and in return for asking a perfectly reasonable question you've just tried to make him feel guilty or wrong for wanting to do as he pleases.

I got the impression it was you who was doing the policing and me advocating the free society standpoint.

No-one's saying you can't comment, but when that comment is an attempt to tell others how to live their lives, especially when it doesn't affect you, then you can't be surprised when others point this out.

Comment as much as you want, but don't get your knickers in a twist when people disagree with you.

11-03-06, 14:56
But as a thread topic in a forum dedicated to 'getting away from it all' to a simpler life afloat ,well,it looks a little silly to me too,one more'indespensible'to drag along and pay for!

[/ QUOTE ]

I actually understood the forum to be a liveaboard forum, which suggests living aboard a boat. I don't believe it intends to suggest that people should neccessarily do this as simply as possible. Surely that is a matter for the individual. Given that most people have tv and internet at home it seems more likley that those who have given up the idea of a fixed abode and live on a boat are more likely to want these things on a boat than pleasure sailors.

12-03-06, 11:49
you saved me the trouble of having to formulate a (reasonably) polite reply to this self-opinionated Luddite.

12-03-06, 12:10
Well said couldnt have put it better myself! I am one of those who LIVE in/on my boat.

12-03-06, 12:25

the current mid-range Nokia, with a fold-out QWERTY keyboard is the 6822 - the 6820 has long since been superseded.
I've 1 of each and prefer the 6810, despite being larger and clunkier.
All 3 have Blackberry, infra-red and Bluetooth - the 6810 has FM radio, the other two a camera. The one on the 6820 was rubbish but the 6822 is quite good for snaps.

If you want a PDA-level phone try the 9300 - it does most things a computer does as well as being a mobile phone.

The trouble with all of them is the key-size, you have to use pointer or fingernail.

12-03-06, 14:59
Ive spent ages looking to find "the phone" Today i definatly decided on the Erricson K750i as the price fell to 200euros!

Then found the erricsons S700ï Decided to buy that!!better screen handy format less crash troubled?!!

Then discoverd the Nokia 7610 which has simbad os6 which meens the blue tooth works!!decided to buy that??

Then thought about the Nokia 6822 as it has a backlit key board!! Ive seen it on display always with the keyboard broken off! Dosent meen it wouldent last with me thought??

Now the Nokia 6210???? I have this on my list priced at just £40 second hand but no where can i find details nor reveiws??? Could you tell me more please???

I have a very good PDA with still the fastest processor a 624mega!! win 2003 v4 wi-lan bluetooth and use it everyday! Pda phones are a comprimise good all the same but for my needs to expensive as are the Nokia 9300i and 9500 i even thought of the 9100 just to send sms but at 100euros and large ill put that to a new phone!!

Its not easy to replace a phone as the prices are very high for the new models and a lot of the nokias are very badly made and have Bluetooth problems either not compatable as the OS is no good(to old or perhaps to cheep?? anyway dosent work)So i cant use the GPRS with my PDA

Also nokia have poor battrey time poor screen resolution and poor cameras,i can live without the camera providing the phone a good one!!

I looked at Samsung D500 but again poor camera 3seconds to take the pic!!and doubtful quality construction/price

Hence the erricson K750i first trying to be sure its a later model as the earlier ones crashed a lot with the white screen of death to the prog!!!As someone said perhaps sonys trying to compeat with microsoft for crashes!!

No longer haveing an unlimited buget ( £10 pw) i have for long had to choose very carfuly before buying something such as a phone which i dont really need!! 4/6 dosent go far these days!

I have a simple phone and a PDA!! But being at anchor so often (from the 31stmarch) and useing email and SMS 99% or the time a good GPRS phone with email and Bluetooth to allow me to use my PDA vertual keyboard to reply is by now a necessity otherwise the phone calls will ruin my now very meager buget!!

As i need a new phone id like one with memory (more than 2/3 megs) and a camera to lighten my load when exploring!

However if the Nokia 6210 has a keyboard and "blackbury"???and BT then at the current price i will definatly buy that!!!!

Ive learnt more about phones and the new generation PDAs the last week than i would have imagened possiable--its very complicated as Nokia and others make so many phones and only to minimum marketing standards!! except perhaps the 7610??

Hard work!!

12-03-06, 16:14
By the time you've finished the picture will have changed so drastically that any comments printed now are rubbish.

I do a 6-monthly review of the comms situation and would comment as follows:-

It's necessary to make a clear distinction between e-mail comms and surfing.

For e-mail, SSB and Sailmail give you world-wide coverage for about $120, with the proviso that, even with PactorIII it's dreadfully slow and you're at the mercy of HF reception variability. Only for the dedicated techie miser.
Giving equally good coverage at an increased outlay and far more consistent performance, is Inmarsat C. That's probably my favourite for oceanic passages.
If you want real-time comms you're talking of Inmarsat A or B with a totally different order of cost-magnitude, or Iridium with its commercial flaws.

If you're coasting you've got cellular, either a modem or Bluetooth/infrared-enabled phone. Slow at 9600 baud, but OK for e-mail. Personally I find SMS texting more effective, using a local PAYG SIM card - though the 160 character limit has drawbacks, it promotes succint phrasing.

For surfing you can choose between internet cafés/bars (still the most cost-effective IMHO) or wi-fi equipped marinas - only in the more civilised areas but increasing fast.
Whilst some use the cellular network, IMHO it's too slow and the unrolling 3G too expensive to be really viable.

12-03-06, 16:59
I sms! Ive just sent at least a dozen this afternoon! as i get 60pm free with my prepay! Sent online.
I use my PDA with WI-FI to surf, email and sms online from cafes which offer me a free connection

On the boat id like my phone to download emais & messages from time to time !and be able to reply by GPRS if im away from the cafe or in a new area.

My power situation just about allows me to recharge the phone on sunny days!!

Imar sat sailmail and a pactor3 are for the rich!! Id have to buy a large tender to mount them with a generator and tow it!!Communications tender!!more valuable than my boat!!

RTTY for the poor and hungry(when there arent fish!)And SSB!! no one useses that any more?? If you do ill give you a call!!

13-03-06, 11:04
A couple of people here have commented that SSB is not really suitable for email or very slow, and I'd just like to put the other side of the case.

As a regular user of a Pactor modem/SSB/Sailmail combination I can only say that I find it faster than my mobile phone (traditional modem mode, not GPRS) and absolutely fine for email as long as you don't want attachments.

Over the last couple of years I have sent and received 2000 emails via this system and had an average transmission rate of 2,000 characters per minute which is perfectly OK for text.

You can also use ssb for weatherfax of course and excellent gribs from the Saildocs server, all free.

If you are in the Med where you are practically always in range of mobile, or if you must have internet, then fine, but if you are offshore or in other parts of the world SSB still has a lot to offer.

13-03-06, 12:38
Entirely agree! We don't use Pactor because we don't need on-board email facilities, but friends of ours regularly contact us this way from their boat - often when they're actually sailing!!!!

That's almost a downside 'cos they're in Croatia in the lovely warm weather (well last email we had!) while we're freezing here, /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif but the 'immediacy' of the communication is great.

You are quite right about the 'volume' of the emails and any attachments but, quite frankly, we can't tell the difference between the Pactor and ordinary internet communications, because they never send photos or huge attachments.

And as you say, there are all the other advantages of SSB as well, and it's something we wouldn't consider sailing without. /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif