You will find very few people using Ocean Passages these days, for many reasons. Here are a few sources which you could choose from:
1. Pilot Charts
(now available free & on line for the S Pacific, N Atlantic and Indian; others to come). There's a huge amount of passage-related info in these and, altho' a bit labor intensive to use and suffering from a 'low tech' image, you'll gain a good feel for the ocean's behavior along any intended route
by working over these manually.
2. In combination with the Pilot Charts, consider using a routing software
package. Virtual Passage
Planner can be downloaded for free, is usable only for the month of January, but will give you a feel for what number-crunching of wind
data can add to a manual PC review. Increase the iterations used by the software
and compare the multi-leg output of the software with your comparable piltot chart and see what you think.
3. Dedicated pilots come in many forms and you might look at what's available for your intended route
- let's say for a one-year period - to consider your choices. E.g. if thinking of visiting Europe
, there are at least two 'Atlantic Crossing' pilots that discuss routing strategies, an Atlantic Islands pilot that talks about that area of the N Atlantic, Sailing Directions published by NIMA (free and on-line, also) to be reviewed, and it goes on. When looking at multiple long legs, consider each leg separately. E.g. from Vancouver you will find NOAA's Coastal Pilots (yet again, free and on-line for downloading in .pdf format) discussing the Pac Coast run, harbors of refuge, etc. and you will probably find that completely adequate. Once you leave the USA for a run to Hawaii
, consulting one of the pubs issued by the various Race
organizers might prove very enlightning. OTOH if heading further S along the C American coast, you might choose to use a cruising guide (aka: pilot) of which there are many. Also keep in mind that a dated pilot, available perhaps from a reseller for only a few dollars, can offer timeless routing strategy & weather
information. Stone's Cruising Guide to the Caribbean and Bahamas
and Calder's Northwest Caribbean Cruising Guide
both offer excellent weather
summaries for their areas and will cost you very little.
4. Multiple weather discussons by region are available on-line that range from the wide-area ENZO phenomenon, influential to passages into the Pacific, to discussions of micro-climates such as those around the Hawaiian islands, the Scottish Orneys or NZ's South Island. Generally speaking, on-line weather sources are more reliable than on-line routing discussions by individual skippers & crews, because the latter encompass relatively little experience over short time periods.
5. Having said that, you will also find some very thoughtful discussions on many of the common routes if you are a wise on-line researcher and have the time to dig them out. As one example, anyone thinking of making the run into the S Pacific from the Pac Coast is unlikely to do better than read Ken & Cath's discussion of it - visit FELICITY's website and download that document at http://www.svfelicity.com/articles/milkrun.pdf
One final observation, since there will be many readers of this post that are eager to point out I've omitted Jimmy Cornell's World Cruising Routes,
which is a useful reference for all the major routes around the world. Routing advice as captured in pubs like Jimmy's and also Anne Hamick's Atlantic Crossing Guide
often reflect the way in which the authors choose to cruise
, not just hard data. In these cases, you end up getting traditional views on a given route that are based on historical documents like Pilot Charts but which may omit the use of real-time information available on most cruising boats these days. So e.g. both Jimmy and Anne (neither of whom cruised with real-time wx data availability when preparing their guides) would counsel you to depart Bermuda
heading NE to 40-42N and then sailing E towards the Azores
, turning SE only for the last hundred miles or so. They recommend this because the prevailing N/NW winds are steady at that latitude, even tho' that route takes you into much harsher frontal weather than further S. Most boats these days opt to track the fronts, stay further S while still far enough N to avoid the light winds of the Azores
High, and arrive more rested and with less broken gear
than those following the guides' advice. So...one golden rule
IMO is to blend multiple views from multiple sources and realize than no one is going to be an expert on the exact weather and winds you will be seeing on a future passage
you have yet to make.
Good luck on the planning; it's a great way to spend cold winter evenings!