Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cruising with Wifi

San Cristobal Galapagos

I am sure this will be a continuing subject as we meander our way try across the globe, but I thought this was a fine time for an update on our Wifi system. Generally I have been VERY pleased with our wifi system. The Port Networks 250 pulls in signals at great range and seems to do fine with a fair amount of rocking and rolling. Wifi availability has been pretty good. We had excellent wifi in Cartegena, both in the anchorage from Club Nautico ($) and in our marina from Club de Pesca (free). The San Blas had ZERO coverage, but they barely had electricity so no surprises there. We were connected in Panama at Shelter Bay ($) and on a mooring at Balboa (included with mooring) in Panama City. The Las Perlas were a dead zone as we were near uninhabited islands, but we got service from the Tropic Star Lodge (free) in Bahia Pinas at the southern border of Panama. Coverage was good in La Libertad around the Puerto Lucia Yacht Club (included with dockage) as well as in Bahia de Caracas from the Puerto Amistad Yacht Club (included with mooring). In Bahia we even could pull in several signals when anchored a few miles out waiting for high tide and our Pilot, but they all were either locked or MAC address restricted.

Here in San Cristobal in the Galapagos, the City has free wifi (see screen shot above) throughout the Malecon (boardwalk) and it reaches quite well the half mile out to the anchorage, coming in stronger than the onboard Linksys router (probably due to the fact the linksys is mounted about 3" above the waterline and the Port Networks antenna is 15 feet off the water while only separated by 25'). In fact, we started pulling in working wifi 9 miles from town (see screen shot below) and more than 2.5 miles from the nearest land as we came down the western side of the island. In the Harbor I can still see that same AP (verified by mac address) I picked up 9 miles out, though there are others closer by with better signal strength. They certainly have some high powered access points here, but it is still amazing that I am getting at least 4.5 miles of working range (and maybe more) while underway at sea.

Almost universally, this is a connection shared between MANY boaters and sometimes many on shore as well, so it tends to get slow from about 10 am till 10 pm. Generally at night the connections are decent with maybe 40 to 50 kbps pretty normal. Many of these have firewalls blocking useful services and websites (blogs seem to get mislabeled as adult content quite often) though sometimes you can get around that by not using their DNS servers and inputting your own. It will be interesting to see how the coverage compares as we head west and further from civilization. I will keep up with some occasional updates for others to reference as they follow in our wake.

No comments: