Originally Posted by Zanshin
I've installed a Ubiquiti Bullet
on my boat to pick up distant WiFi networks while at anchor and the system works very well for me, I have picked up distant signals from close to a mile away and connected via them.
This is likely the most reliable and cheapest method. Do not even bother with USB devices, every one I have ever tried is not worth the effort. A bullet and antenna can be set up for well under a hundred dollars for the 100mW version and less than 150 for the 800mW version. I have a Nanostation LOCO (built in antenna) and it is nice, but for a boat I would do the Bullet. Very easy to set up. I got mine at Streakwave and was satisfied with the customer support. At the time there was a shortage of them and they were the only ones with them in stock. I would buy from the again, but they are also available elsewhere.
The thing I like is that they use normal Ethernet cables with a Power Over Ethernet adapter. This means you can go up to 100 meters before you have to worry about signal loss and makes for an easy install. Since there are no drivers involved it is more stable than a USB device. I have found USB networking drivers to be very flaky.
There seems to be fewer and fewer available networks though.