The internet has completely revolutionized modern life. Whether for ordering a pizza, consuming news, or answering life’s hardest questions, people depend on the internet daily to enhance their lives. The article you are currently reading on The Teak Rail (obviously) would not exist if it were not for the internet.
Mariners are no different. The list of resources for boaters on the internet is unfathomably long. There are instructions for everything from tying a bowline to outboard motor repair, and everything in between. What had to be memorized for months or years before cruising can now easily be found with a few key strokes on Google.
The demand for WiFi aboard vessels at sea has been firmly established in the past decade. Commercial captains use WiFi to stream data back to headquarters, and it allows for instant communication between command headquarters and the skipper. Cruisers can use WiFi to video-call back home, or even to order supplies to an upcoming port so they are ready at their time of arrival.
There are a few good options for onboard WiFi receivers, but The Wave Rogue Pro WiFi Access System is the best and most cost-efficient way of getting quality, high-speed internet onboard a vessel.
The Rogue Wave Pro is classified as a long-range WiFi-receiving antenna, with a range of over seven miles. In essence, this foot-and-a-half tall antenna-router combo is mounted high up above the top deck, and it grabs WiFi signals from hot spots on shore, connecting the boater to the internet via Ethernet cable running from the antenna to a receiver or computer. This bridging process is called Power over Ethernet (PoE). Other WiFi antennas use a USB connection which loses speed when the cables are longer than a couple of feet.
Connection speed for the Rogue Pro largely depends on the quality of the WiFi connection on shore. Essentially, the Rogue Pro picks up WiFi from hotspots on shore. If the connection is fast on shore, it delivers a fast internet connection with no regulation on the speed of the connection. The antenna can be mounted portably closer to the cockpit, or it can be more permanently mounted on the masthead, a spreader, or on a mizzen mast, if you have one.
The Rogue Pro is encased in polished stainless steel. The casing keeps sand, debris and moisture from affecting the circuitry inside. The steel also adds durability to the unit, a quality that is essential for all devices we recommend.
Practical Sailor recommended Wave WiFi antennas in their comparison of the best onboard WiFi systems: “The Rogue Wave is clearly the work of an established company with experience in the finicky recreational market. If you want good tech support and are concerned about having someone back the product for years from now, consider the Rogue Wave”.
The only drawback that Practical Sailor could find in the standard, non-metal Rogue Wave was the durability of the unit. As stated before, this issue is addressed with the polished steel casing, and it looks darn shiny and very high tech once mounted.
One strong suit of the Rogue antennas that Practical Sailor brought up was the customer service. Though we didn’t need any extra help setting up and connecting, Wave WiFi has live professionals standing by to assist in setup, troubleshooting, and any other issue that might occur with the Rogue Pro.
The Wave Rogue Pro has a few products that rival its capabilities in some categories, but the other products always fell short when analyzed as a whole. There are a number of PoE antennas which accomplish the same task as the Rogue Pro, but with decreased capability and customer support.
Possibly the closest product in comparison with the Rogue Pro is the Bitstorm Bad Boy. Both the Bad Boy and the Rogue Pro have metal cases, which make them ideal for mounting and leaving out for extended periods of time above deck. Bad Boy claims to have a range of five miles, as compared to the Rogue Pro’s seven mile range. Now, both of these numbers are only possible during ideal conditions, but the Rogue Pro’s antenna is more sensitive nonetheless.
Another facet to note on the Bad Boy is its price. It starts at $350, but add in a metal case ($40), and the Unleashed router ($150) the all-in price gets to be substantially higher than the $400 Rogue Pro, which includes these items.
Another class of antennas is available, and they use USB power to make a connection. The Wirie was created by two cruising sailors who wanted a better way to get WiFi aboard their 35-foot Fontaine Pajot catamaran. They use a similar antenna as the other units, and the router is encased in a watertight plastic box.
USB may be the only connection method for some lighter-use laptops like the MacBook Air and Chromebooks, but USB power is severely decreased with increased cable length. There must be an active USB extension for every 15 feet of cable. In turn, that means there is an exposed USB connection every 15 feet of exposed wire, making the possibility of water intrusion damage much higher than with the Rogue Pro. In addition, the Wirie has software that must be installed before use, which can be difficult to set up for those who are not computer savvy.
The 5MileWifi system is very similar in appearance to the Rogue Pro and the Bad Boy. It has a similar range as the Bad Boy: 5 miles, which is still lower than the Rogue Pro. One convenient factor of the 5MileWiFi is the router is built into the USB connection port, streamlining the number of parts and wires. There is similar software to the Bad Boy that must be downloaded before surfing the web.
The major letdown of the system is its USB power source. Many laptops cannot support the kind of power needed for sustained use. In addition, the USB cable that comes standard is 25 feet. That means that unless you have a few active USB connectors, which are exposed to water damage and which slow the connection down, you must be within 25 feet of the antenna. Mounting the antenna high enough to get a five mile signal could make it extremely inconvenient to be online.
The Wave Rogue Pro
We’re not the only ones who prefer the Wave Rogue Pro. Ben Ellison from Panbo, a marine electronics website, tested the Rogue Pro against the Wirie, and he “did careful speed comparisons with several solid hotspots, and that’s where the Rogue Wave consistently showed better performance”.
Ellison also noted in his article that the Rogue Pro was much easier to get up and running because there’s no need for software. Ease of setup was a serious consideration when we compared the different products. If the software is frustrating and not intuitive, the last thing a sailor needs is to be futzing around with his internet.
Author’s note: We personally sail to get away from the perils of technology, so the thought of setting up a WiFi connection really seems counterintuitive to what sailing is all about.
Mariners and techies alike are raving about the Rogue Pro. Geeks on Tour, a technology training site, recommends the Wave Rogue Pro to RVers and boaters alike.
The Wave Rogue Pro is at the top of its market. No other long-range antenna and router combo has its range or capability. With a durable polished stainless steel coating, it is designed for outdoor use. It is easily mounted high and out of sight, and its connection doesn’t slow down with longer cables like other WiFi antenna-routers.
If you are considering adding the internet to your boating experience, even miles from shore, then the Wave Rogue Pro is for you.