On my sailboat the range of wifi and Bluetooth appears to be very much shorter than in my home - I can't figure out why.

ex1: At home I can stream video with Miracast from my basement to a room upstairs some 25 feet away in spite of the thick concrete separating the floors. On my glassfibre boat using the same devices I can't make it work between the cockpit and the saloon less than 15 feet away and almost line of sight.

ex2: At home I can reliably stream music from my smartphone to a Bluetooth device in the basement 30+ feet away with multiple brick walls in between. On my boat I get severe cut-outs when streaming between the same devices if more than 10 feet away in line of sight.

I do have many wireless devices on the boat (20 odd but not always on). However, I do at home too.

I've tried changing wifi channels - it does seem to have some impact but doesn't fix it. I've tried powering off devices one by one - it doesn't seem to make any difference. I then thought it was the metal walls on my dock that caused it, but it's the same when I'm on the water far from any external interference. I've tried using wifi scanning apps on my phone to see what's going on. It indicates fairly good s/n levels (-60dB or better) on both ends but it does look like the streaming device stops transmitting from time to time.

My son had his Fusion AV unit replaced due to similar issues on his live-aboard catamaran. I got the old unit and it worked perfectly in my home but on-board my boat I have to be within 10 feet to stream Bluetooth reliably.

I've run out of ideas and my friend Google has let me down on this one. New ideas are welcome.


1 Answer 1


A couple of thoughts.

In a home scenario, the 2.4 GHz signal can reflect and propagate somewhat indirectly off flat surfaces. There are also metal pieces which can sometimes act as passive antenna elements - wiring, pipes, construction studs and others.

On the boat, there are no flat surfaces, so fewer opportunities for reflection - any reflected waves will be scattered. There's also not as much metal on the boat to form antennas for re-radiation.

But I think the biggest difference is that the boat is in water, which absorbs the 2.4GHz signal very effectively rather than reflecting it. More about that here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_absorption_by_water

So, it's the water, and a bit more.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! That makes sense. So I need to cover my boat with aluminum foil on the inside :-) Jokes aside I'll try to roll out some foil just see if it makes any difference. Theoretically I could cover the floor boards on the downside if it works. Wifi I might try to fix with an access point in the cockpit although it won't solve Miracast. Bluetooth I may try to move critical devices higher. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 16:33

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