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Old 21-01-2014, 13:28   #16
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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Originally Posted by keepondancin View Post
It is un-believeable that a few detractors could cause him to give up the cause. In one instance when a boat kept pumping him for alternatives because they had to get somewhere at a certain time, he asked "do you want me to come down and sail the boat for you also". I can still hear him say "... and have a good watch"
I believe he hung up the mic at age 76. The "few detractors" might have been the icing on the cake of just getting older and not wanting to put in hours per day trying to contact people through the static. Also, I can't imagine his hobby was cheap, nor easy to maintain. As a fit teenager, I dug a hole into which I mounted in concrete a free-standing steel TV tower I salvaged (everyone was going cable). I mounted a directional antenna on it for my CB hobby (hey, it was before wine, women and song). The antenna was damaged twice by wind and the mast took a direct lightning strike. I had the coax unplugged, but for a supposedly sedentary hobby, radio took a lot of physical effort. The antenna array...never mind the wattage...to maintain a one-man marine net from Lake Ontario to most of the Caribbean and the Atlantic must have been considerable in materials and hauling stuff up and down masts.

Perhaps the criticism was the last straw?
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Old 21-01-2014, 14:05   #17
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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His advice to us was i can tell you what i see but you have to use more than me and then make your own decision --
we used chris and multiple models in our decision making and it is up to us
If cruising is a full time job and with the weather support info on the net, I would rather learn how to read weather chart and forecast myself. If Chris Parker could learn this, there is no reason we can't learn the art of weather forecast.

Nothing against him making an honest living, I prefer self reliance.
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Old 21-01-2014, 14:15   #18
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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Perhaps the criticism was the last straw?
Totally agree. Herb was alone on his own. While the commercial enterprises (profit organizations, magazine, point of sales companies) are doing the I scratch your back and you scratch mine. Let the good time rolls.

Capitalism at its best.
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Old 21-01-2014, 15:07   #19
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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If cruising is a full time job and with the weather support info on the net, I would rather learn how to read weather chart and forecast myself. If Chris Parker could learn this, there is no reason we can't learn the art of weather forecast.

Nothing against him making an honest living, I prefer self reliance.
This is what I am attempting to do. There's loads of resources available, and if you can receive GRIB files of synoptic surface and 500 mb charts at sea, you can teach yourself enough forecasting to (generally) avoid trouble.

I am currently reading this book: Heavy Weather Avoidance and Route Design: Concepts and Applications of 500 Mb Charts: Ma-Li Chen, Lee S. Chesneau: 9780939837786: Amazon.com: Books

Not for the faint of brain, but a very methodical text on how to read a specific sort of chart that can allow you to figure out whether to run or heave to!
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Old 21-01-2014, 15:11   #20
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

For an excellent resource for all things weather, have a look at Frank Singleton's website, Frank Singleton's Weather and Sailing Pages / Franks-Weather | The Weather Window . Chuck
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Old 21-01-2014, 15:20   #21
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
I believe he hung up the mic at age 76. The "few detractors" might have been the icing on the cake of just getting older and not wanting to put in hours per day trying to contact people through the static. Also, I can't imagine his hobby was cheap, nor easy to maintain. As a fit teenager, I dug a hole into which I mounted in concrete a free-standing steel TV tower I salvaged (everyone was going cable). I mounted a directional antenna on it for my CB hobby (hey, it was before wine, women and song). The antenna was damaged twice by wind and the mast took a direct lightning strike. I had the coax unplugged, but for a supposedly sedentary hobby, radio took a lot of physical effort. The antenna array...never mind the wattage...to maintain a one-man marine net from Lake Ontario to most of the Caribbean and the Atlantic must have been considerable in materials and hauling stuff up and down masts.

Perhaps the criticism was the last straw?
I really need to restate myself, I apologize to Herb. What I meant was that a few detractors had such an effect, and I agree it was just the last straw. I heard back then, and I see now so many ill prepared people making passages. Herb made it much easier and safer for all. I also heard him make contact with boats whose weather was not what was indicated by all his resources, and it would frustrate him, then the next evening he would have studied even more those areas so he would have a better idea on how to help route them. It still is the Captain's responsibility to make the final decisions.
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Old 21-01-2014, 15:31   #22
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post



Perhaps the criticism was the last straw?
It was definitely one of the straws. I listened to him on a few passages incl a trans atlantic.

He did get a bit grumpy when people would not give him their correct locations, or wouldnt take his advice and then bump into weather he predicted them around.
But also HF radio is dying, no matter what some uses here say, each year there was less boats tuning into him. He didnt want to do email weather or sat phone etc, and they are the emerging technologies.
And, also, it must have pissed him off that the young upstarts were able to charge for their services when he was doing it for love.

I think he was a great man of his times, for 25 years or something extraordinary, at a time when cruising exploded in numbers. He was totally needed in those years, but in the last few years he was just one cheap option.
He probably left the microphone at exactly the right time, before he was made redundant by the march of technology.

At 76 its probably more difficult to take the crap dished out. The criticism he copped off some media, I think about the 2010 caribbean 1500 where a person died, was uncalled for and unjust, and probably set him thinking at the dinner table one night 'why the hell am I doing this?'
I think he made the right decision and to get out while on the wave.

As others have said, we have to learn to predict the weather ourselves. Its no black art. We can learn. But its still nice to have someone confirm our thoughts (even if we never had the thoughts!).
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Old 21-01-2014, 16:02   #23
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
This is what I am attempting to do. There's loads of resources available, and if you can receive GRIB files of synoptic surface and 500 mb charts at sea, you can teach yourself enough forecasting to (generally) avoid trouble.

I am currently reading this book: Heavy Weather Avoidance and Route Design: Concepts and Applications of 500 Mb Charts: Ma-Li Chen, Lee S. Chesneau: 9780939837786: Amazon.com: Books

Not for the faint of brain, but a very methodical text on how to read a specific sort of chart that can allow you to figure out whether to run or heave to!
Thanks for the link, I will look this. Here are two books that have in my inventory on weather.

Weather Forecasting Handbook (5th Edition): Tim Vasquez: 9780970684028: Amazon.com: Books
Mariner's Weather: William P. Crawford: 9780393308846: Amazon.com: Books


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Old 21-01-2014, 16:18   #24
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

I miss Herb; he helped me greatly as a young single hander coming home from Bermuda many years ago. He's smart, detail oriented, and, I learned, didn't suffer fools very well. I'm VERY familiar with the negative issues referenced, and, after reading about a hundred pages, find he was bang on and people didn't pay enough attention to his comments and took them out of context. He tried to correct them but…

Oh well; he is retired and good on him. Hope he has a good watch!
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Old 21-01-2014, 17:04   #25
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

I had taken advantage of his advice since the '90's, and had always thought of Herb as representative of the very best of the cruising community.

As for Mr. Doane...
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Old 21-01-2014, 17:04   #26
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

I really appreciated Herb's help on my first Atlantic crossing in 1996. He offered a service that had no alternatives at that time. I sympathize with the awkward corner he found himself in: many new cruisers were heading out with less-than-stout boats and less-than-impressive experience so of course he was conservative in his forecasts. That was the right thing to do. If a more experienced sailor with a stout boat was looking for more wind he would gladly explain himself and provide extra help. I did not have a problem with him being difficult, but neither did I argue with him about his recommendations; I took them in and then made my own decision. It was, and is, the skipper's job - not Herb's - to make the final judgement. And if the stinky stuff were to hit the fan (it didn't for me) it would not have been Herb's fault, regardless of the forecast accuracy.

I have avoided rallies like the plague, for many reasons. The greatest concern for me is that there is too much pressure to hit the schedule. I leave port when my boat is ready, I am ready, and the weather is favorable, and by my judgement. Just because a rally organizer or other skippers think it is time to go means nothing. This idea that an organizer sets the departure time, which ultimately puts pressure on the skippers, is anathema to cautious skippers. It was only a matter of time before some boats got in over their heads. The organizer is right to deny responsibility for those decisions but I hope they were clear about their (very limited) role in deciding to depart on time. Reading the referenced links it appears that the organizer quite unfairly blamed Herb, when in fact he wasn't directly involved and his forecasts and recommendations were largely correct. Just a shame all the way around.

I was in the UK in the late '90s when the Mini-Transat started on time (in September IIRC) right into the first of a train of equinoctial gales. They had missed the summer window and yet proceeded to cross Biscay in at least gale conditions on very small boats. The smart move would have been to abandon the rally or delay the start for weeks. Several boats were lost, and I think lives as well. And yet we seem not to learn...

Greg
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Old 21-01-2014, 18:34   #27
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

Herb, his wife Brigit and their two girls were all terrific people and I for while counted them as friends when I was sailing back and forth between NE and the Caribbean. Herb assisted in getting a couple of boats which were foundering in the Atlantic that I was in contact with Coast Guard help. I called him at 5 am one Sunday Morning and he got right on it. Love the guy. He will be missed but never forgotten. He deserves all the rest and peace I hope he has now found.
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Old 22-01-2014, 07:06   #28
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
This is what I am attempting to do. There's loads of resources available, and if you can receive GRIB files of synoptic surface and 500 mb charts at sea, you can teach yourself enough forecasting to (generally) avoid trouble.

I am currently reading this book: Heavy Weather Avoidance and Route Design: Concepts and Applications of 500 Mb Charts: Ma-Li Chen, Lee S. Chesneau: 9780939837786: Amazon.com: Books

Not for the faint of brain, but a very methodical text on how to read a specific sort of chart that can allow you to figure out whether to run or heave to!
This is thread drift, but --

Self-reliance is all well and good, and I will certainly work through the subject matter before I start crossing oceans (possibly at the end of this year).

I think, however, that even with a fair theoretical command of the subject matter, I would really prefer to have a professional weather router for a more difficult route like a West-to-East transat. It's really a shame that Herb has hung up his spurs.

I wonder which of the paid services is the most worthwhile? I note that Metworks in the UK will do it, for minimum of 300 pounds (about $500) for an ocean crossing. It sounds like an email-only service, which doesn't sound as interactive as discussing by SSB.

Anyone have any thoughts?
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Old 22-01-2014, 07:24   #29
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pirate Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

I have heard off and about the guy over the years but have never used him.. or anyone else for that matter.. mainly as I did not have an appropriate radio.. but also coz I do my own.
Pilot Charts, seasonal averages and good observation of sky and sea can give one enough info for most in season crossings..
For me this is all past of the sailing experience.. getting regular instructions would spoil the fun.. especially as I'm someone who hates being told what to do...
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Old 22-01-2014, 07:53   #30
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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This is thread drift, but --

Self-reliance is all well and good, and I will certainly work through the subject matter before I start crossing oceans (possibly at the end of this year).

I think, however, that even with a fair theoretical command of the subject matter, I would really prefer to have a professional weather router for a more difficult route like a West-to-East transat. It's really a shame that Herb has hung up his spurs.

I wonder which of the paid services is the most worthwhile? I note that Metworks in the UK will do it, for minimum of 300 pounds (about $500) for an ocean crossing. It sounds like an email-only service, which doesn't sound as interactive as discussing by SSB.

Anyone have any thoughts?
I can't yet answer that because frankly I had some faint hope that Herb would still be out there when we pushed off, so I haven't examined the "pro" services.

And I would turn that around: What confidence could I reasonably be expected to have in such a service? It's still my decision to "go/no go" as skipper, but there's a bit of a risk in my mind to having too much confidence in a "pro" weather router because you've paid for the service than to trust one's own abilities to forecast, which of course take into account (very) local conditions, state of boat, crew, rig and abilities and so on.

I think what I'm saying is that if I'm wrong for free, I have a chance of improvement. If I farm out the forecasting function, I might still get a pasting and yet learn little and be out $500.

If you can read a hydrological chart, you can read a weather chart, in my view. And perhaps should. I'm with Boatman on this one.
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