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Streaming ahead with Wi-Fi

Berthon’s Electronics Manager Henry Castledine gives a byte sized overview on getting more from your Wi-Fi.

Wireless Chartplotter Installation at Berthon

What does the wireless feature on my chartplotter do?

The three major Electronics manufacturers have all created their own apps to allow you to control your chartplotter from a phone, ipad or tablet. The Garmin Helm, Ray Control (Raymarine) and GoFree (Navico) apps mean you can now take all the information available on your MFD (multi-function display) anywhere on board. This feature is great for deliveries and longer passages, allowing the skipper to keep an eye on the navigation while resting in the cabin while the less experienced crew are on watch. Other uses extend but are not limited to monitoring engine data whilst in the engine room or linking up a Raymarine cam50 to the system, allowing you to keep an eye on the kids in the saloon whilst on the flybridge or foredeck.

I have poor Wi-Fi reception in the marina, what can I do?

Many yachts berthed towards the end of the pontoon struggle to connect to the marina Wi-Fi. To remedy this, install a Wi-Fi booster and a router. Some of the options available boast of ranges from 4-6nm!

Radar arch featuring Glomex Webboat 4G coastal antenna fitted at Berthon

Radar arch featuring Glomex Webboat 4G coastal antenna fitted at Berthon

How can I get internet while at sea?

Once out of range of Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G signal is required to get on-line. A host of options exist for Wi-Fi boosters and 3G/4G receivers. Berthons recent installation on Promise (Sealine 44) included a Glomex Webboat 4G coastal antenna. While on the move, the whole family can connect their devices to the antenna which will use 4G data or 3G if 4G is not available, on returning closer to home, the antenna will automatically switch to any registered Wi-Fi hotspots to provide a SAVING on the data bill!

How can I watch TV in the marina?

Your home TV license also covers your yacht, so install a digital TV antenna and a digital box then press auto-tune on the remote. For particularly remote areas, offshore or a wider choice in channels, upgrade to a satellite TV antenna and sky box. When choosing a satellite TV antenna, the dish size is important. Coverage in the UK and Western Europe is generally very good so a small dish should suffice, however, if you are planning on being adventurous you should go for a larger dish. Berthon can check the coverage in your proposed sailing area and our technicians are trained in KVH & Raymarine satellite TV installations.

Radar arch featuring a KVH Satellite TV antenna fitted at Berthon

Radar arch featuring a KVH Satellite TV antenna fitted at Berthon

How can I control my music on board?

For the best sound quality it is still advised to wire in your music, however, there has been a vast improvement in the performance of Bluetooth receivers which can be adapted into most existing sound systems. Alternatively, upgrade to a Fusion sound system and connect up to your plotter to allow full control of your sound system and music library from the helm.

Can I link my chartplotter app to my Navigation system?

The wireless ability on your MFD can also be used to connect to certain chart plotting applications, allowing you to plot your routes at home and then stream them onto the plotter when you go aboard. The Garmin Blue Chart Mobile App, paired with a Wi-Fi adaptor kit will sync up with your Garmin plotter. The Navionics App will sync with your Raymarine kit through the Plotter Sync feature.

Ipad connected to Raymarine A95 MFD

Ipad connected to Raymarine A95 MFD

How long does a typical installation take?

Every yacht is different and the majority of the installation time is taken up running the cable from the chart table or saloon to the antenna. If there is reasonably good access, a Wi-Fi/4G installation would take around 6 hours, including mounting the antenna, running the cable, connecting the power, setting up the system and testing the equipment.

How can I make my connection secure?

On both your MFD and internet booster you can password protect the Wi-Fi connection to stop anybody else from controlling it via an app.  Most booster systems have a designated administrator, so anyone can connect to the system with the correct password, but only one device is assigned as the administrator.  This means only one device can decide whether to allow 4G to turn on in place of Wi-Fi or connect to new networks, ensuring that the bill payer knows what to expect at the end of the month!

Wi-Fi Settings menu on Raymarine A95 MFD

Wi-Fi Settings menu on Raymarine A95 MFD

Will I experience interference with any other users?

In theory this is possible as the plotter’s Wi-Fi could clash with another system, however, there are a number of pre-set Wi-Fi channels you can choose between, so should this issue arise, switch to a different channel. To make your display easily identifiable on the connections list you can designate a custom name e.g. Berthon Boat Flybridge.

How much does all of this cost?

This depends on what equipment you already have. With many households already owning ipads or tablets, the cost to connect to your chart plotter is eliminated. For syncing chart data such as waypoints and routes to your plotter you will need to have purchased the relevant charts from the app, which often means you have bought the charts twice as it is advised to have a separate chart card for the plotters.

Wi-Fi & 3G/4G boosters cost £250 to £1,000 depending on quality and function. Digital TV antennas start at £80 and satellite TV antennas start at £1,500. Both of these antennas also require standard household receiver boxes and for sat TV the subscription fee. All of the above needs evaluation on board for the added cost of installation and a recurring data fee for 3G/4G services from your choice of mobile network service provider.

Which products are suitable for my yacht?

Every owner has different needs based on the size of the boat, what they use it for, their sailing area and most importantly, the people on board. Contact Berthon to arrange a consultation or come and see us at our marina office in Lymington.

For further detailed information on all aspects of marine electronics installations please call Berthon Electronics Manager Henry Castledine +44(0)1590 647411Jim