Starlink: Affordable, Faster, Flexible Internet for Boats

starlink low-orbit satellite

Space travel has always brought amazing innovations for Earthly beings to use. SpaceX is no exception. The SpaceX endeavor has led to the creation of a broadband satellite internet service that is unrivaled.

We have Starlink aboard Z3 and LOVE it! Connectivity now is a no brainer for us and so many cruisers who work remotely from their boats!

Unlike other satellite services, you can stream, Pandora, Zoom, game, download files, and more all without rationing data. It is affordable. Check the Starlink RV Service website for pricing and be sure to look for promo codes online before you sign up. There is a standard version for stationary use and a flat high-performance version for use while in motion. Also, you can pause and un-pause service based on your needs.


The information below is how many cruisers including us were using the Starlink service. However, in May 2023, SpaceX started enforcing Starlink RV service contract terms that state using a modified standard dish and Roam connection while sailing was in breach of its warranty and terms of service. Many sailors have received emails informing them of their need to switch plans.

The bad news is that the Mobile Priority plans are more expensive, but the good news is that SpaceX announced these more mid-priced plans before cracking down. Before there was the affordable RV plan and then a $5,000/month commercial maritime plan. Click the Starlink Plans image to enlarge it or see the Starlink Guide to figure out what works for you. And note, that bobbing on anchor in a marina is considered “in motion”.

We left the information below as the situation is changing rapidly and we will update as changes come in.

How Cruisers Use Starlink RV

Though created for the RV crowd, cruisers and other boaters are using it to change the way they live. And the system is very simple to install yourself, see details about what comes in the Starlink Kit box. Once ordered, your Starlink Kit arrives with everything you need to quickly get online including the Starlink unit, base, WiFi router, and cables. Check out the video of a boater who installed it.

The unit has a small footprint and is rugged, able to weather extreme cold, heat, hail, sleet, heavy rain, and gale force winds. In fact, Starlink is currently used to acquire high-quality video of SpaceX rocket landings at sea during launches. If the system can withstand 190,000 lbs of force, it can probably take what your boat will go through.

The installation is literally plug and play.  It takes less than 10 minutes after the router and the “dishy” are connected and for the dishy to align to the satellites. We opted for an easy installation set-up with a fishing rod holder 1.5” tube (dishy slides in) and a few stainless-steel rail clamps.

Starlink’s high-speed, low-latency (fast high quality video and audio) service is made possible by the world’s largest set of highly advanced satellites operating in a low orbit around Earth.

If you love tech stuff, you can learn more about how Starlink works here.

how starlink works

A few things to note: Starlink requires an unobstructed view of the sky. You can use the Starlink app to check for blockage zones and determine the best install location on your vessel.

The Starlink mobile app helps you customize settings, receive updates, access support, and see real-time performance data like download speed.

I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes during a Salty Dawg Caribbean Rally weather briefing Zoom meeting in early November. One of the skippers in the Bahamas-bound fleet of 30 boats, which had left a couple of days earlier, joined the meeting while still 150 miles north east of the Abacos. The video image came through clearly, the sound was perfect and in the background was the boat’s stern surfing nicely along in fairly big seas, all live and via the internet supplied by the skipper’s Starlink satellite connection.

One of our clients texted us from their boat, a Lagoon 42 Tangled Sheets, on a passage from Turks and Caicos en-route to the Bahamas. They gleefully told us how they were streaming movies while on passage and were able to monitor weather conditions in real time with the Starlink.  There are so many reviews from cruisers now and there is even a Facebook group called “Starlink on Boats” dedicated to this subject with updated information from users.

Using Starlink while securely moored or anchored has become more and more common but actual active and practical use at sea is quite a revolution in offshore communications. Starlink Maritime is a commercial service that costs $5,000 a month and $10,000 to install. But crafty cruisers have discovered that Starlink Mobile, designed for the RV crowd, works on boats, too, and costs $135 a month and requires the in-motion antenna which is about $2,500. 

There were approximately 10 boats in this fall’s Salty Dawg fleet with Starlink units. As more satellites are deployed and software for antenna-satellite-connections improve, I’ll bet we will see Starlink units replacing sat-phones and keeping our cruising community linked to the internet all the time. If you have experience using Starlink on a boat, please share your knowledge and experiences with all of us!

IridiumGo vs Starlink

We also have the IridiumGo which we are using as we speak from our Catana 50 called Mithril, crossing the Atlantic. We have used it for many years and used it extensively whenever we do offshore passages. We have been very happy with it but it has its limitations of course. And frankly, if the Starlink works as advertised, I see the IridiumGo being obsolete unless the change drastically to compete. S/V Wind Therapy did a nice comparison here in this video.

What do you think? Starlink or IridiumGo?


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