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Old 04-09-2012, 19:51   #1
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Best Way For Weather Reports

Hi to all the saiing guru's.Hope you can help,i am sailing a yacht from Mexico to Australia next march via Hawaii.I was wondering what the best way for weather reports.I am installing a SSB,is that enough?? Do I need a pc with software also.i was going to buy a NSA HF/SSB.I am installing it in Mexico,do i need a license?? I am very much in the dark here and would appreciate any advice.Paul.
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Old 04-09-2012, 19:52   #2
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Re: best way for weather reports

Also what is the best way for chart plotting.Shoiuld I just buy a GPS chartplotter,pardon my ignorance.P.
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Old 04-09-2012, 20:01   #3
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Re: best way for weather reports

We use an Icom 802 SSB with a AT140 autotuner and pactor III modem. The radio and pactor modem are integrated with the laptop via sailmail and winlink. Our biggest weather source is Chris Parker's e-mails and voice forecasts - but he doesn't do Pacific weather. Surely there's someone that does - check around. We also get NOAA weather surface analysis and forecast maps as well as Buoyweather/NOAA spot forecasts via email on the SSB radio.

If we had to outfit it again, I would be sure to check out the Iridium Sat Phone attached to the laptop for weather data. Costly maybe, but overall might be less cost than a good SSB installation.

Good luck! Jan
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Old 04-09-2012, 21:40   #4
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Re: Best Way For Weather Reports

Sounds like you have a steep learning curve ahead of you....

There are lots of options for getting weather info. I would not categorize any of them as the "best way", but they all have their appropriate use. Options are good -- having more than one way to get weather info while underway is ideal.

For weather info when underway offshore, many cruisers, including me, still rely primarily on weather FAX.

You can receive weather fax with nothing more than a SSB receiver (receive only) and a PC with the appropriate hardware and/or software. I use Xaxero' Weather FAX 2000 USB version product.

You do not need a license just to receive via SSB/HAM, but you do to transmit legally.
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Old 05-09-2012, 08:42   #5
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Re: best way for weather reports

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Also what is the best way for chart plotting.Shoiuld I just buy a GPS chartplotter,pardon my ignorance.P.

Lots of options, but I would not categorize any one as "the best". That is mostly determined by which most effectively meets your needs in your situation.

That said, a lot of cruisers are now using laptops/ipads with nav software. I run Fugawi ENC on my laptop. This is as a backup to my cockpit mounted chartplotter (Raymarine). I also have a few small handheld GPS units aboard (handy when exploring in the dinghy or ashore too). Again, it is good to have options, electronics will fail or malfunction at some point -- usually when you need them the most -- so having redundancy is good.

An iPad running navigation software is certainly a slick and convenient option because it can easily be carried around the boat as needed. But of course it can also be easily dropped and damaged.

Since electronics fail, I and many cruisers, also carry paper charts. Falling back on good old traditional navigation skills is a very practical backup when all the fancy new electronics fail. A nearby lightening strike or shut down of the civilian GPS signal by the military can render all the GPS driven stuff useless.
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:23   #6
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Re: Best Way For Weather Reports

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Originally Posted by tour72 View Post
I was wondering what the best way for weather reports.I am installing a SSB,is that enough??
Best for weather = iridium sat phone + laptop + grib files (and other weather data). You don't need any sort license for that. It's simple and reliable (don't have to worry about propagation issues or waiting for sailmail freqs to get free) and easy to install and use (you can get the weather when ever you want and just exactly the data you want). You don't need the SSB for this, although you can use the SSB to listen to the cruising weather nets, which often have excellent real time info on them.

Cheapest = SSB receiver + laptop + weather fax software. With a $200 receiver (not a transceiver) and free software you can get free weather fax charts of the weather maps. This is what we all used to do 20 years ago, before sailmail/airmail and iridium. However, its fussy and the charts can often be fuzzy and hard to read, and there are some gaps across the pacific.

If you have an SSB installed, you can get a pactor modem + laptop + gribs. This gives you the same data as option #1 (iridium sat phone) but is a bit more fussy to use, however it is also gives you the ability to talk on the cruising nets, if you like that sort of socializing.

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Also what is the best way for chart plotting.Shoiuld I just buy a GPS chartplotter,pardon my ignorance.P.
You have three options: #1 a very simple gps with paper charts, #2 a dedicated gps chart plotter, #3 a simply gps hooked to a laptop (or installed computer) with a charting program (like expedition or maxsea).

My personal preference today is #2. We use a furuno 7000, with c-map chart chips - its a well built smallish dedicated plotter. Its more reliable and uses fewer amps than #3, and I think safer/more convenient than #1 because you can always immediately see exactly where you are.
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Old 05-09-2012, 11:13   #7
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Re: Best Way For Weather Reports

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
You do not need a license just to receive via SSB/HAM, but you do to transmit legally.
That is only partly true... Domestically you don't need a license

If your are traveling internationally and your vessel carries Marine SSB, Radar or EPIRB, even if you do not operate them, you are required to have a Ship's Station License.
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Old 05-09-2012, 11:26   #8
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Re: Best Way For Weather Reports

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Originally Posted by tour72 View Post
Hi to all the saiing guru's.Hope you can help,i am sailing a yacht from Mexico to Australia next march via Hawaii.I was wondering what the best way for weather reports.I am installing a SSB,is that enough?? Do I need a pc with software also.i was going to buy a NSA HF/SSB.I am installing it in Mexico,do i need a license?? I am very much in the dark here and would appreciate any advice.Paul.
Paul

GRIB Files via Marine SSB is a great way to receive weather infomrtion. You would need a Marine SSB, Pactor Modem and a laptop with Weather software. It is not as complicated as it sounds.

In Mexico, there is one SSB Net that provides weather information since the death of Don Anderson. Gary the weather guy on the SONRISA Net provides very detailed weather and for an amatuer is very accurate.

Also Bouy and Passage Weather are good internet sites for coastal weather.

As far as Satillie Phones....I would not risk my life on this technology yet!

While in the Sea of Cortez, we used our Iridium Sat Phone a lot, since there was no phone service, north of La Paz and we had to stay in contact with reltives. The hand held phone dropped calls frequently or did not connect, even just swinging at the anchor.

We still have it and use it when necessary, but based on our experience would never consider it for our primary emergency device or weather.

The other way to do it, is contract with a Weather Routing Service, who will provide you personalized weather and routing infomration during your passage via SSB. These services ere not cheap, but normally give accurate infomration and routing advice.
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Old 05-09-2012, 11:26   #9
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Re: Best Way For Weather Reports

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Do I need a pc with software also.i was going to buy a NSA HF/SSB.
The Nasa ain't that great a radio, look on ebay for degen 1103, cheap and does the job very well. Then JVComm32 - FAX SSTV RTTY SYNOP NAVTEX program will display weatherfaxes for free.

But to be honest from your post you might want to start playing around with this stuff now. Weatherfax, I think, is plenty to give you an idea with what's coming your way out there for free but you need a handle on understanding synoptic charts.

Er,,, will you be the skipper for this boat?
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Old 05-09-2012, 16:47   #10
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Re: Best Way For Weather Reports

Thanks guys,I am not the skipper but the owner.I do have a professional skipper coming on the voyage.He is hard to get hold of sometimes as he is always at sea.I did speak to him a couple of days ago and he said SSB and chart plotter with paper charts.He will be in the sth pacific for the next three months and i wanted to buy the gear,so wanted to know the best and cheapest.I just dont understand the SSB hooked up with a chartplotter,PC ??? it makes my head spin.
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Old 05-09-2012, 16:57   #11
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Re: Best Way For Weather Reports

Quote:
Originally Posted by tour72 View Post
Thanks guys,I am not the skipper but the owner.I do have a professional skipper coming on the voyage.He is hard to get hold of sometimes as he is always at sea.I did speak to him a couple of days ago and he said SSB and chart plotter with paper charts.He will be in the sth pacific for the next three months and i wanted to buy the gear,so wanted to know the best and cheapest.I just dont understand the SSB hooked up with a chartplotter,PC ??? it makes my head spin.
Perhaps he is bringing along his own iridium phone?

But if not, in order to get the best weather info from the SSB, you will need in addition a pactor modem installed and set-up with the PC; and either a sailmail (or airmail) account (perhaps the skipper already has one); in order to be able to get grib files (compressed weather files) and do e-mail over the SSB.

The SSB does not need to hook-up to the chart plotter, only to the PC.
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Old 05-09-2012, 18:00   #12
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Re: Best Way For Weather Reports

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Thanks guys,I am not the skipper but the owner. I do have a professional skipper coming on the voyage.....I just dont understand the SSB hooked up with a chartplotter,PC ??? it makes my head spin.
Whew, that's a relief to hear! I think a few of us were concerned that you might be planning to go from ground zero to big blue in a only about 6 months on your own. Having a pro aboard is a great way to learn -- provided he is a good teacher of course. Added bonus to do it aboard your own boat.

Depending upon the intended length of your trip, just renting a sat phone and connecting it to your PC is one of the simplest and overall least expensive ways to go. I used to do that for deliveries. If your skipper does this for a living, he may already have one and you could just pay for the air time. With this approach you get voice comm and weather data all from one simple set up. PC's do burn a lot of juice though, but you don't really need it on all the time -- especially true on longer offshore runs.

I suggest having a handheld GPS or two, and paper charts of course, aboard for backup.
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Old 06-09-2012, 12:18   #13
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Re: Best Way For Weather Reports

Im planning to use a HF reciever and JVComm software to hopefully get most of the weather info I need but I am also carrying an iriduim 9555 sat phone. Im starting to look at weather services for the sat phone and am looking for some advice.

So far Im looking at Weathernet software from Ocens which looks to be $99 then you pay $0.18-$2.00 for each map or product you download. Im assuming that is in addition to airtime charges. Its a little confusing though. Im guessing I would still need some grib viewing software like grib explorer? Info is here Category Grid

The other place I was looking was here: Marine Weather for Iridium, Inmarsat | NOAA, GRIB Files, Charts | GMN Explorer they want you to pay $373 which includes weathernet, grib explorer and a $75 weather data card which im gather is a prepaid card to be used to pay for individual maps? Im guessing airtime charges for downloading the files would still be an extra cost?

Advice and suggestions very much appreciated!
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Old 06-09-2012, 12:30   #14
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Re: Best Way For Weather Reports

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I am also carrying an iriduim 9555 sat phone. Im starting to look at weather services for the sat phone and am looking for some advice.
You can get all the weather data you need absolutely free at saildocs and saildocsgribs, and there is an excellent absolutely free grib viewer called viewfax
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Old 06-09-2012, 12:46   #15
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Re: Best Way For Weather Reports

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You can get all the weather data you need absolutely free at saildocs and saildocsgribs, and there is an excellent absolutely free grib viewer called viewfax

Ok but how do I send requests (emails) from my sat phone? It looked to me like I needed to email the file requests, or maybe I missed something.
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