Fowey Harbour Master Connectivity

Fowey Harbour Master Connectivity

Project Description


Fowey Harbour is one of the busiest ports in Cornwall with over 7000 craft visiting during the summer months. Being a deep water harbour, it is also a commercially vital player in the export of non-oil products from the UK to destinations around the globe.

Managing the day-to-day movements of vessels and craft requires a harbour team who operate both ashore and on the water. Processes have been streamlined with the introduction of management software from Harbour Assist which provides powerful real-time data and, for the first time, enables card payments to be collected on the water by the Harbour Patrol.

Essential to the success of the new system is great internet connectivity within the port and all the way along further up the river. Having heard of the Grapevine Connect Cloudcase used by Dart Harbour, Fowey were keen to see what we could do for them.

Test Day

A test day was set up, whereby Grapevine joined a harbour patrol on the river.  One patrol member was using the Harbour Assist app on the iPad, connecting to the internet via the river WiFi.  The other patrol member connected his iPad wirelessly to the Grapevine Connect Cloudcase.  Dual SIMs were used to identify which carrier would give optimum connectivity. With the Peplink BR1 router and high gain cellular antenna safely enclosed in the rugged yellow waterproof Cloudcase, we were ready to test!

The iPad connected to the river WiFi struggled to keep consistent signal. Internet was intermittent along the route, with slow speeds and drops identified at key points.  The second iPad connected to the Grapevine Cloudcase had excellent mobile connectivity the whole route, and tests were made to ensure that it would automatically fail-over to river WiFi in the event of a temporary drop in cellular connectivity, creating a seamless connectivity solution.

Of particular interest to Fowey Harbour, was that due to the advent of 4G higher up the river, the Cloudcase enables the Harbour Assist app to be used in the upper reaches something they had not been able to access before. The implications of this means that even greater time efficiency and cost savings are made – this would simply not be possible without the Cloudcase.

Back on Dry Land

The Harbour Patrol could instantly see the benefits of the Cloudcase above and beyond what they had been used to. With the built in GPS Antenna, the location of the patrol could be easily tracked using the Peplink device management portal.  This handy feature is useful for shore-based personnel to coordinate crew on the water.

In addition to being in use out on the river, Fowey Harbour Commissioners will also have the option to utilise the Cloudcase as a temporary internet solution in the event that the fixed line connectivity fails in the harbour office.

Following the test, Grapevine’s Martin Cox said, ‘This type of deployment is a perfect example of how the Cloudcase can provide internet connectivity in a harsh environment where traditional methods struggle.  It has opened up new opportunities for Fowey Harbour Commissioners and means they can save time and money on their daily operations.’

Captain Paul Thomas, Fowey Harbour Master added, ‘I’m impressed.  The Harbour Assist app is brilliant but relies on good internet connectivity. The Grapevine Cloudcase delivers just that and is exactly what we need to provide efficient management of our harbour.’


Wi-Fi is great – when you have it

The original plan was to provide internet connectivity using a series of mast mounted wireless access points strategically located across the harbour, and although that worked great most of the time, it did not provide complete coverage – particularly further up river where the largest number of moorings can be found. Without internet connectivity they couldn’t take payments online, and installing additional wifi masts that far upstream wasn’t practical.

They asked Harbour Assist to look into a solution, who in turn contacted us!

Software Defined WAN brings operational agility

Grapevine provided a pair of rugged encased MAX BR1s for a trial, configured to use the existing wifi connectivity as a WAN link if in coverage, and then to failover to LTE if not. This ability to failover automatically to cellular and back again when wifi is available, along with the easy to deploy rugged enclosures, provided all the coverage Fowey Harbour needed along the full length of the river.

InControl 2 for Remote Monitoring, Management and GPS tracking

Using Peplink’s InControl 2 platform not only can Grapevine provide remote support and monitoring of the cases as and when needed, but staff in the Harbour Office can see the exactly location of the workboats on a live map too – which is great for water taxi management.

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