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Options for TV Aboard Your Boat





I am fortunate enough to live in an area where I don’t have to pull my boat out of the water during the winter.  That is great, because this allows me to take advantage of those unusually warm winter days that occur every now and then.  Also, my boat provides a nice place to hang out when I just want to get out of the house.  Of course, being on the boat in the cooler months is a bit different than it is when the mercury rises above 80.  For example, right now, it is a beautiful sunny day, but it is 43 degrees outside.  That kind of rules out water sports as an activity.  While I do sometimes go cruising in the winter months, this is the time of year where I am more likely to just spend time on the boat while tied in the slip.  My boat becomes my floating man cave.

During the summer months, the TV on my boat hardly ever gets used but when winter rolls around, it is a staple of my time spent afloat.  After all, a floating couch potato is much happier than one on land, right?  Here are a few methods that are available if you want to chill out and watch a little TV while on the water.

Blu-Ray Player

This by far is the easiest option.  Once you have your TV set up, just connect your Blu-Ray player and plug it in.  Keep a stack of your favorite movies aboard and you will always have something to watch. 

Pros – Easy and inexpensive
Cons – Watchable content is limited to your Blu-Ray/DVD collection.


Digital Antenna

So many of us have cable or satellite TV these days that we forget that television stations are also required to broadcast a digital signal as well.  An amplified marine digital antenna is a good way to pick up these signals and provide a means to pull in potentially several local television stations.   How many stations you receive will depend on the size and design of the antenna you get and where you boat.  For example, I purchased and installed an 11 inch diameter antenna on my boat last year.  My boat has a radar arch which made for the perfect place to mount the antenna.  I had to run a coax cable from the base of the antenna, through the arch and into the cabin where it connects to a powered amplifier.  From the amp, it connects to the TV.  I easily pull in 50 digital channels and my boat is about 45 miles north of Atlanta.  Of course, let’s be realistic.  Once I rule out the ones that have content that I am not interested in or are in different languages, I only have use for about half of those channels. That is still 20 to 25 channels that I did not have before.

Pros – TV is free once you get the antenna installed
Cons – May be of little use if you boat in extremely remote areas.  

A radar arch is a perfect place to install a digital marine antenna.


For more info on the antenna that I purchased and other products that I have tested, visit The Ships Logg Shopping Page here.  

Internet TV

There are many services that offer television content over the internet.  Amazon, YouTube, Hulu and Netflix are just a few.  Having a smart TV or even a smart Blu-Ray player makes it easy to get access to this content anywhere you have internet access.  Many marinas offer internet access to their tenants and there are also the options of using the hotspot features on your mobile devices.  Being able to use one of these services aboard will provide you with an almost endless choice of content to watch.   You do have to be careful about exceeding any limitations that you may have on bandwidth usage. 

Pros – Lots of content to veg out to
Cons – My not work well in remote areas.  Exceeding usage limits could get expensive if you do not have an unlimited internet plan.

A hotspot or marine Wi-Fi makes it easy to get content over the internet.



Satellite TV

This is basically the same thing you may already have at home.  You sign up with one of the big satellite TV providers and get a dish installed at your dock or on your boat.  This by far will give you the most content but also will be the most expensive.  You can get a dish installed at your dock at a reasonable cost but that means that you have to disconnect when you leave the slip and you will have no TV while out on the water. 

To keep TV reception while underway, you must install a dish system on your boat that has the ability to track and keep a lock on your provider’s satellite while your boat is moving and these systems can be expensive.  It is also possible that a project like this will not be a do-it-yourself kind of project unless you are quite handy. 

Satellite TV also will come with a monthly fee which will vary depending on the channel package that you get.  If you do already have satellite TV at home and you want to add it to your boat, check with your provider.  In some cases an additional receiver on your boat can be added to your home bill and treated the same as having an additional receiver at home, This should help keep your monthly bill increase to a minimum.

Pros – Plenty of content and works even in remote areas
Cons – Setup can be expensive and there is a monthly cost.  


You can get the most content with satellite TV but the setup can be expensive.


Combination

In my case, I chose to use more than one option from above.  In fact, I chose 3 of the four listed here.  I started with a Blu-Ray player.  The TV on my boat is a Smart TV so I can get movie and video content via Amazon and YouTube using a hotspot for internet.  Lastly, I added a digital antenna.  The combination works well and I never have an issue looking for something to watch. 

Pros – Allows you to choose the best options for your needs
Cons – None


Be sure to chime in and let us know how you choose to pass the time on your boat when not cruising.

Happy Boating

Captain Frank
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