When most people discover that we are going to live on a boat, they tend to express (either directly or implicitly through their silence) that we are some kind of crazy. Then the questioning begins. What about bathing? Laundry? Cooking? How will you sleep and live with the boat rocking back and forth? And so on. The point is that when most people think of living on a boat, they picture something very different than what we are actually getting ourselves into. So this is the first in a serious of posts in which we respond to common questions and disabue our readers of their well-intended concerns about our sanity.
By far, the most common question we get is how we will access the internet on our boat. An understandable question, given the extent to which we all rely on the internet today. In fact, Krissy and I rely on the internet not only for communication, work, shopping, etc., but also for television and movies (we use Netflix instead of cable television and DVDs). High-speed internet access is certainly not something that we are willing to sacrifice in our move onto a boat. See, we're not crazy!
The short answer is that we can get the internet on our boat the same way that you get internet in your house, and then some. We will spend the vast majority of our time (certainly every work day) docked at our marina, and the marina offers both cable and phone connections directly to the boat, allowing us to access the internet through the exact same kind of cable modem or DSL modem that people use in their homes. But that should not even be necessary, as the marina also offers high-speed wireless internet to all the boats staying there, and that cost is included in the price of the slip. The result is that, while we are at our dock, we will have no problem staying connected to the internet with at least the same ease as in our house.
At times, we will be out sailing, either for an afternoon, for a weekend, or for a longer vacation. Whenever we are away from our dock, we will not have access to the cable or DSL modem or to our marina's wireless service. Of course, internet access is generally not so crucial during a vacation or a pleasure cruise (season 2 of MacGyver will be waiting for us on Netflix when we return). Even so, we will continue to have internet access even while away. On daytrips or most weekend trips, we will be within 20 miles of shore and will therefore be able to access the internet on our phones. We will also have a antenna that will allow us to pick up unlocked high-speed WiFi signals for our computer from about five miles away, and we will generally be within that distance if we are spending the night at anchor. When we are further away from shore on longer trips, internet is no longer as fast and inexpensive, but it is still available. We will have an SSB radio that will allow us to access text-only email, and also news and weather reports, from thousands of miles away--from nearly any place on the planet. If higher-speed internet access is necessary, we could also connect with a satellite system, but that is extremely expensive ($1-2 a minute, plus equipment) right now. In any case, we will always be connected in some way, even when we are out at sea.