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Old 01-01-2009, 08:45   #1
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Best Way to Get Weather While Cruising?

I am confused with all the different ways to get weather information while cruising. I was leaning toward an SSB with weather fax. What are your experiences?

Thanks
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:11   #2
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There are lots of options. Which one you choose will depend heavily on your cruising area and your pocketbook.

SSB weather broadcasts are done by the Coast Guard, WLO, and a number of other stations, including ham nets (like the WaterWay Net and the Maritime Mobile Net). A good list of net frequencies can be found at Net / SSB Frequencies

Weatherfax broadcasts are made from a number of stations worldwide, and can be copied with an HF receiver and the necessary software.

If you have HF email (via a Pactor modem), you can download a number of weather products from SailMail (commercial) or WinLink (amateur).

Continuous weather broadcasts are done by NOAA stations all over the US and can be copied on your ship's VHF radio. These can also be copied at sea up to about 20 miles out, and are broadcast in many foreign countries.

There are hundreds of useful weather products on the Internet. These can be accessed, if you're in range, via wifi or air cards. For longer distances you'll need a satellite-based system. Satphones (Iridium and Globalstar) can provide the connectivity needed to obtain Internet weather products.

These are only a few of the sources for WX while cruising. There are specialized products available also which can be useful, depending on your plans and preferences.

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Old 01-01-2009, 09:14   #3
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When I did offshore passages between NY/LIS to Bermuda and the Caribbean I used the SSB and SouthboundII. SBII is a weather routing service provided by Herb Hilgenberg a sailor and now weather expert who lived in Bermuda for about 10yrs or so (a guess) and is now back in Canada.

At the same time each day (about 6pm IIRC) sailors would come on to 12a on the SSB and report in. Herb would take each sailor's local report and then give his advice as to what to expect and which course to take. I would listen to all the reports to get a more "global picture" of the weather. Many yachts transiting to the Carib, for example would be scattered about from the US east coast all the way to the Caribbean and so his reports and listening to up to 20 or 30 sailors was valuable real time "local" weather from the Atlantic.

He worked with other yachts in the Western Caribean and cross atlantic as well and plotted each yachts positions once they were signed in. This helped in a few rescues too!

I suggest for passages you use a weather routing service (such as SBII) and communicate with SSB or sat phone. Herb's is free, but others charge a fee for this valuable (life saving) service.

I had a weather fax which I found helpful. Now you can receive grib files with an SSB and modem.

Access to weather information has greatly improved over the past 10 years and there are many options especially sat imagery and grib files.
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:21   #4
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When I did offshore passages between NY/LIS to Bermuda and the Caribbean I used the SSB and SouthboundII. SBII is a weather routing service provided by Herb Hilgenberg a sailor and now weather expert who lived in Bermuda for about 10yrs or so (a guess) and is now back in Canada...
Herb Hilgenberg - "SOUTHBOUND II" (VAX498)
FREQUENCY: Marine HF/SSB 12359.0 (Alternates 8294.0 & 12359.0)
TIME: Begins @2000UTC
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:21   #5
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A short wave receiver/ SSB transceiver is the established method for small boats to receive weather updates.

From our own Gord May. This was posted some years ago in a different forum: Perhaps Gord has an updated list?

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Bahamas Weather Net: 7.096 MHz at 0720 EST
(sometimes on 3.696 Mhz depending on propagation)

Caribbean Cocktail and Weather Net: Virgin Islands-7.086 MHz +- QRM at 1645 AST

Caribbean Emergency and Weather Net: Trinidad-7.162 MHz at 0630 AST, 3.185 MHz at 1830 AST

Caribbean Hurricane Watch Net: 14.325 Mhz, 14.275 Mhz,
and on 14.175 MHz when needed.

Caribbean M/M Net: Virgin Islands-7.230 MHz - 7.240 MHz.at 1100 Zulu.
At 2045 Zulu (except Sundays), you can pick up the Cocktail and Weather Net, the afternoon version of this daily net.

Chubasco Net: Mexico West Coast-7.294 MHz at 1530 Zulu

Intercontinental Net: 14.300 Mhz -14.316 Mhz (changes often) at 1100 Zulu

Manana M/M Net: 14.340 MHz at 1200 PDT.
Covers the U.S. west coast to Hawaii

Maritime Emergency Net: 14.310 MHz.at 0400 Zulu and on 14.303 MHz.at 1800 Zulu

Maritime Mobile Net: 14.300-14.316 Mhz (changes often) after the Intercontinental Net and running until around 0200 Zulu

Mississauga Net: VE stations with relays. 14.121 MHz at 1245 Zulu.
Covers Europe, Med, Atlantic, Caribbean and Central America.

Mediterranean M/M Net: 7.085 MHz at 0700 Zulu

Northwest Caribbean Cruisers Net: 8.188 MHz at 1400 Zulu.
Covers from Mexico to San Andres Island, Colombia.

Pacific M/M Service Net: 21.402 MHz at 1500 PDT

Pacific Seafarers Net: 14.313 MHz at 0200 Zulu to 0325 Zulu

Panama Canal Connection Net: 8.107 MHz at 1330 Zulu.
Covers Pacific from Mexico to Galapagos, Atlantic from Belize to Colombia. / Emphasis on SW. Caribbean.

PST Baja California M/M Net: 7.238 MHz at 0800 PDT.
Covers coastal Baja & Calif.

Robby''s Net: Australia- 14.315 MHz at 1000 Zulu and again at 2300 Zulu.

Roy''s Net: Perth, W.A. - 14.320 MHz. at 1115 Zulu.
Gives wx. warnings & then covers boats in N & W Indian Ocean.
Then at 1130 Zulu, QSY''s to SA M/M net on 14.316 MHz.

S.A. M/M Net: South Africa- 14.316 MHz at 0630 Zulu and again at 1130 Zulu.

SE.Asia M/M Net: (Rowdy''s Breakfast Show), Phuket, Thailand. 14.320 MHz at 2400 Zulu
and on 7.085 MHz at 0030 Zulu.
Covers SE Asia.

South Atlantic Net: 21.325 MHz at 1130 Zulu.
Covers the South Atlantic.

Tony''s Net: Kenya-14.316MHz at 0500 Zulu.
Covers Indian Ocean & Red Sea.

Tony''s Net: New Zealand- ZL1ATE-14.315 MHz. +- QRM at 2100 Zulu.
Position reports from the South Pacific - Australia areas.

TransAtlantic Net: 21.400 MHz at 1300 Zulu.
Covers North Atlantic and Caribbean

U.K. M/M Net: 14.303+/-QRM MHz at 0800 and 1800 Zulu

Waterway Radio & Cruising Club (WRCC): 7.268 MHz at 0745 EST.
Covers U.S. east coast, Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas, and occasionally the extreme northern Caribbean.

Australian Hailing: 8173.0 MHz USB at 0900 AST.

BASRA Weather Net (Bahamas): 4.003 MHz USB at 0700 EST

Canadaian Net: 14121.0 MHz USB at 0845 AST.

Caribbean Hailing: 8104.0 MHz USB from 0745 to 0815 AST.

Caribbean/Bahamas Hailing: 8152.0 MHz USB from 2000 to 2100 AST.

Caribbean Safety & Security Net: 8104.0 MHz USB from 0815 to 0830 AST.

Cruisehiemers Net (Bahamas): 8152.0 MHz USB at 0930 AST.

German Net: 8140.0 MHz USB at 0900 AST.

Panama Connection: 8107.0 MHz USB at0930AST.

Russell Radio: New Zealand-covers from Bora Bora to Australia / 12.359 MHz at 0830 and 1630 (NZ time).
and on 12.353 MHz at 0915 and 1600 (NZ time).

VAX498 - SOUTH BOUND II COASTAL - Herb Hilgenberg (VE3LML, VP9LM)
South Bound II, Herb, provides a daily ship-routing/weather forecasting service, as a hobby, on marine HF/ SSB frequency 12359.0, starting at 2000 UTC until 2200 UTC or until completion of traffic. 8294.0 and 16531.0 are used as alternate frequencies as announced from time to time, subject to propagation

Scandanavian Net: 8182.0 MHz USB at 0800 AST and 16534.0 at 0900 AST.

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Hope this answers your question.
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:26   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CruisingBeauty View Post
I am confused with all the different ways to get weather information while cruising. I was leaning toward an SSB with weather fax. What are your experiences?

Thanks
In addition to the sources already posted, where you plan on cruising will determine where the information comes from. If you are in the south Pacific or Australia most of these sources won't work for you. If on the US East coast all will work just fine. The SSB and a Pactor modem will get you weather info from various sources almost anywhere in the world. Herb is great for passages, we have used him for years, but not so good and really does not like to do day hops and US coastal stuff. Internet access is good for coastal and many island locations but won't work offshore without very expensive equipment and pricey plans.
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Old 01-01-2009, 09:56   #7
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I don't think anyone has mentioned Chris Parker - Caribbean Weather Center
Caribbean Weather Center* SSB* N

You can receive his weather on SSB.
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Old 01-01-2009, 10:08   #8
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I got one of these: Highly recommended for coastal cruising as well as the islands when you are out of VHF range: This gizzmo operates on medium frequency and has a max range of 400 miles.
Hook it up to a GPS and it will automatically tune to the nearest station.
Service free of charge worldwide.


It is a Furuno NAVTEX weather receiver.
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Old 01-01-2009, 11:18   #9
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If you have a satellite phone (such as Iridium), you can use it to send and receive email, including the same WFAX charts and GRIB files you would otherwise receive via SSB Sailmail or ham Winlink. You will need a satphone email service provider -- I use Xgate from Global Marine Networks. There are many other weather products available via this route, but this is a good place to start. The downside to satphone is $$$, but there are also many advantages.
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Old 01-01-2009, 12:47   #10
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I don't think anyone explicitly mentioned that you will need a computer to make all this work onboard. The SSB receives the info and then the Pactor modem sends it to your laptop, where specialized software allows you to send and receive text email, receive weather faxes, and download GRIB weather files for viewing. Jim Corenman's Airmail client is a widely used program for doing all this. He's written a pretty good description of how it all fits together at Pactor Primer.

To have access to email, text weather forecasts, and GRIB downloads, you need to sign up with a service such as Sailmail or Winmail. They operate a network of shortwave radio stations located all over the world.
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Old 01-01-2009, 13:41   #11
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Very useful information! But I've still got a few questions.
Also, Van Sant has a list of weather broadcast times and frequencies in "Passages South". Seems like those are the main ones for his trip, Florida to South America.

It seems that SSB is the main source of info. I've got a receiver but haven't got a transmitter and no modem. And maybe I need a better receiver than my small one.
Don't get me wrong, weather information is critical for any kind of sailing longer than a couple of hours...but, why are Pactor modems so expensive? $500 to $1000 for the SSB and then another $1300 for the modem. Wow!
If I understand, NAVTEX is a digital broadcast. Does it decode with a Pactor modem or do you need a different one for that too?
From my very limited experience and from reading more expert comments, it seems that one should concentrate on a single source of weather information because you become familiar with the jargon and how to interpret it. (For Thornless Travel, Van Sant recommends the NWS offshore reports.) And then fill in with all of the other pieces of information from the multitude of sources.
My boat came with a Garmin chart plotter and all of the hardware for XM satellite weather. I've also got a Raymarine chart plotter so could (in principle) install Sirius satellite weather. So, all I really have to do is start the XM WX service. Does anyone have any comments about the utility of these services? Any comments about reception down through the Bahamas to the Virgins? I suppose that the radio reception is about the same as the WX so I could also take advantage of listening to tunes.
Are there any recommendations on books, online courses, DVD courses or anything to really learn weather forcasting from the weather maps that one will obtain from all of these sources?

Thanks for any comments!
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Old 01-01-2009, 14:27   #12
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If you want a less expensive solution, you can buy a shortwave receiver and plug it into the laptop's sound card. Free software like JVComm32 will allow you to view weather faxes and text forecasts from NOAA.
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Old 01-01-2009, 16:52   #13
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I was considering getting Sirius WX for my Raymarine C80,but at $600. for receiver,and exorbitant monthly charges ,there is no way.I will use my cell phone card (which also gets you dialup internet)when coastwise (in Canada or U.S.)and the Sitex Wefax SSB receiver connected to laptop when offshore.In the old days we used common sense and that was sufficient.I believe Sirius only works up to about 800 mi. offshore.
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Old 01-01-2009, 17:07   #14
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I think an add on Sirius weather receiver and the monthly fee is basically way way way over priced.
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Old 01-01-2009, 17:35   #15
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I think an add on Sirius weather receiver and the monthly fee is basically way way way over priced.
I have to agree and I have installed many of these systems on boats with owners that must have all of the latest gadgets and toys. it really is quite an income generator for the provider if they get enough folks to subscribe. Not to mention the folks like Raymarine and Garmin that sell the hardware.
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