Heading out on the boat? Better stay within 3 miles of shore or else…

No one gets on a boat because they want to be restricted. No one says, “I like boating but it gives me too much freedom to go where I please.” Know what I mean? Boating is all about the sense of adventure. It’s about going where you please, when you please. Oh of course there are rules. We do, after all, live in a civilized society. But follow those simple rules and you can set sail for pretty much any destination you want.

That is, of course, unless you want cell phone service.

Who cares about cell phone service on the water?

You do, that’s who. Be honest with yourself. Even though boating is about getting away from it all, you still want to be connected. Maybe you don’t want to check your socials 20 times an hour, but you still don’t want to miss those important texts from people you care about. Don’t feel bad about it. This is life in the ’20s. Being offshore doesn’t mean you want to be offline. The days when you could disappear for a weekend are long gone. We all know it.

The problem here is the cell network. Today’s cell phones are designed to be surrounded by signals. In general, if you’re in an urban or suburban area, you’re probably no more than two miles away from a cell tower. In most cases you’re within one mile of multiple towers. Cell signals travel better over water than over land, because there are fewer things to block them. But, in the best case scenario you get 3-5 miles of strong cell service. You “might” be able to get cell service beyond that if you’re lucky. That’s why staying near shore is high on your to-do list when you’re on the water.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

You have two great options that are going to free you up. The first is installing a cell phone signal booster on your boat. The same cell boosters that work on land will work on water too. There are marine-specific antennas that can mount to existing points on your boat as well.

A cell booster will pull in much weaker signals than your phone can, especially if you’re below decks. It will amplify those signals and you’ll get better reception. It works the other way, too. The booster will shoot signals back to land with a lot more power than your phone can. This means not only clearer calls but faster data.

If you’re really serious…

If you’re serious about connecting, look into a VSAT solution from Signal Connect. VSAT is satellite-based internet and it will let you stay connected up to 100 miles off shore. You’ll not only get internet service, but you can use Wi-Fi calling or apps like WhatsApp, Teams, or Skype to communicate with anyone. It’s a more expensive solution, but not as expensive as you would think. New technologies are here that make the cost of entry a lot lower and Signal Connect can help you choose the right one.

If that all sounds fantastic, here’s what you do next.

Choosing the right equipment isn’t for the faint of heart. Installing it isn’t either. Last thing you want to do is spend too much money for no results. And of course you wouldn’t want to make the wrong hole in the wrong place. Talk about a sinking feeling!

You need an expert in your corner. Signal Connect does more marine activations than anyone else on the planet. We can help you choose the right solution to make the most of your budget. We can even recommend a qualified installer in your area to help you get it all done!
It all starts with a call to 888-233-7563 during East Coast business hours. We’re here to help with real technicians who really answer the phone. We don’t believe in big call centers. We believe in customer service. Don’t believe me? Check us out! If it’s after hours, fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you, usually within one business day.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.