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Old 01-01-2009, 17:01   #16
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Don't get me wrong. I'll spend what it takes to get good weather information but with so many options the questions come down to what is useful versus what is fluff. Since I've already got the XM weather hardware, thanks to the PO, $ 30 per month will give me a lot of weather information. I'm not sure that the $50 option would add much. But since I'm mostly interested in getting weather in the Exumas, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and perhaps points south, I wonder about the coverage and the reception. The XM website says US and PR. That leaves a big hole inbetween. And, I'm perfectly willing to upgrade my SSB (do I just need a receiver or a transceiver?) and to purchase a modem if that will give me good access to NWS reports.

I guess that I consider access to good weather information about as important as other basic safety equipment like pfds, vhf radio, and epirbs.


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Old 01-01-2009, 17:16   #17
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Bill, You will get US weather maps and radar plus forecasts for the continental US and the radar out of San Juan. You are correct that you will be missing a lot unless you happen to be in those two areas. For the rest of the planet it is kind of useless.

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Old 02-01-2009, 08:49   #18
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I will second using Chris Parker. Consider a subscription to HIM rather than Sirius/XM.
He will give you location specific info for YOUR boat and passages and can do it via e-mail or SSB or both. No connection...just a very satisfied customer.
He costs 195 a year.
Cam - I am no longer a member here. Look for me on other forums...same name.

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Old 02-01-2009, 23:57   #19
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sailmail and grib files gave us the most accurate and consistent weather crossing the pacific Mexico to Australia. Weather faxes are difficult to read and cover too large an area to make them reliable in my opinion
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Old 03-01-2009, 00:26   #20
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I use gribs for my Pacific sailing, but also get some wfax charts. The typical grib doesn't show developing tropical storms very well (their features are too small to represent using the typical one or two degree grid). The wfax chart files are fairly large, so if you want to keep the airtime to a minimum you can get the text forecasts via sailmail instead. These will report the stuff that the gribs leave out.
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Old 03-01-2009, 03:43   #21
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Weather data in different formats from multiple sources allows you to paint a more reliable picture of what's happening out there. It helps a great deal if you actually know how to interpret it. That skill takes time to develop--reading texts and a lot of hours studying the data and relating it to what you actually see on a day-to-day basis. A lot of the complaints about the weatherman's inaccurate forecasts come from people who haven't taken the time to learn a bit on their own, I suspect. As cruisers, we take some pride in our self-reliance. Given the critical importance of weather, being able to interpret weather data is a critical "self-reliance" skill.
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Old 03-01-2009, 07:46   #22
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Hud, I agree with you.

I plan to develop my limited weather skills. I was curious what the best way to get the weather information while cruising was.

I plan to cruise the US East Coast, the Caribbean then Europe then Caribbean to Pacific.

It seems like the SSB with modem is the best setup for global coverage. I am not doing this on a shoestring, but I have to be very careful about expenses. Good equipment is a must.

Such good insight, everyone! Thanks!
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Old 03-01-2009, 10:20   #23
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I agree with the last two. I am looking for the best way to get a reasonable variety of information. There are so many products and gadgets out there that the issue is to try to get hands on recommendations for the ones that work best. I don't think I can manage to use all of them and sail too. Like all of the electronic tools and gadgets, I suppose that there is no replacement for using your eyes and ears. Like CB, I'll spend what it takes but I don't want to waste money.

Now that Hud has raised the question...or suggested it as a solution, does anyone have suggestions for texts to read or online courses? I've got limited nautical weather experience but I read the NWS reports everyday to try to get some feel for them. Even though right now we are in New Mexico and it's hard to compare them to what I see out my window.

Thanks to everyone! That's what makes this forum so useful...lots of great people with hands on experience and opinions.

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Old 03-01-2009, 12:26   #24
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Among others, the Power Squadron (USPS) offers several excellent courses & seminars on weather.

USPS Onboard Weather Forecasting Seminar:
USPS Educational Department - On Board Weather Forecasting

USPS Weather Course:
USPS Educational Department - Weather Course

USPS Regional Weather Guides:
USPS Educational Department - Weather Course

Other weather resources:

Weather4Sailors: Weather for Sailors - Use weather to win races, sail faster, and cruise safely

Lee Chesneau's Marine Weather: Lee Chesneau's Marine Weather

See also:

NOAA weather fax/GRIB user's manual:

Reading Weather Charts

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Old 03-01-2009, 14:49   #25
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You might consider taking a few courses in "weather". Here in NYC the Hayden Planetarium offered course in coastal navigation, celestial and in weather. I took them all and they were very helpful. The weather course was taught by the weatherman who is still on the the Tele and that's a hoot!

Seriously though, a course in meteorology is invaluable. Take one and you'll be glad you did.
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Old 29-11-2009, 07:19   #26
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OK enlighten me here. I was about to purchase a Garmin 478 with the XM antenna for weather. Did I read here correctly... that radar and WX coverage is LIMITED? I thought it was world wide. I may be confusing sat reception with useful WX data.

I'll be in the Exumas this season, if I can't get full XM Weather Service in the Exumas I don't need the Garmin. Iv'e got SSB/Pactor and will sign up for Sailmail. I have 16 mile radar, but the XM radar and surface analysis data looked very good to me, can I only get that info in the US?

Thanks for the info in advance, I almost pulled the trigger this morning.. glad I waited.

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Old 29-11-2009, 07:24   #27
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Another method you can use to download weather information is to use's Low-Bandwidth Interface:

It works well using any low-bandwidth internet connection (such as Iridium, Globalstar, Thuraya, Inmarsat, etc.)...

For those who have a normal/fast internet connection, use

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Old 29-11-2009, 09:04   #28
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Hud 3 is spot on with JV Com , all you need is a ssb receiver with headphone jack and a computor with a mic jack. Download the program off the internet it is free. Get the transmit times and freq available at http://WWW.NWC.NOAA.GOV/FAX/MARINE.SHTML You can down load every 6 hrs if you want , but usually if they update a forecast it is on the 12 hr . If you are just cruising the bahamas and caribean, Chris Parker is your go to guy even if you have a receive only SSB. You can listen in every morning except Sun. and get a synopsis for your area. If you have transmit capability he will answer your specific questions for a small fee or Email you a daily forecast (if you want to skip the early nets). Chris also wrote a weather book that is very well written in plain easy to understand terms. I usually down load the SSB files , take notes on Chris's net and then compare the 2 . Currently below savanna , southbound
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Old 30-11-2009, 16:11   #29
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I used Skymate for weather and email communication on a two year trip from San Francisco to Maine through the Canal. Lots cheaper than all the installation of a transceiver, antennas, and the gear for SSB or Ham. Just hook up the whip antenna on the pushpit and plug it in to 12v. Worked everywhere (unlike my satphone which worked less than half the time). Could get weather in retrievable NOAA format or GRIB files. The radio cost about $1000, uses very little electricity, was great for keeping in touch as it gives you a green flashing light when you have an email message. I used a weather routing service for the trip around Hatteras--but the information was largely usually very wrong on waves and wind---I urge folks not to rely on this as their only source of weather data--in my case they mostly grossly overstated the wind speed, direction and wave conditions, but it could have been otherwise. I listened to the net sources (Herb et al) on a little Yachtboy SSB receiver and found them helpful in confirming what the data was saying.

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Tartan 37
Castine, Maine
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