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Old 22-01-2014, 13:41   #46
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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Originally Posted by redsky49 View Post
"For the most part my experience is that you get to pick the weather on the day you leave and after that all bets are off..."

True more often than not.
I usually do a bit more. I check the pilot chart for the prevailing conditions, and keep my eyes on the weather for 10 days prior to my intended departure. When in doubt, talk to others and for their input.

If things are still look good, download all weather charts before heading out. Get update info via Sat phone and my armchair sailor friend at home.

I am comfortable with this approach and most importantly, wifey approves.
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Old 22-01-2014, 13:54   #47
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

I do just about the same thing and underway I get regular weather faxs but my experience has been that I just have to deal with what comes up because its a bloody big ocean and many times little weather systems do not show up on a fax. Years ago all we had was high seas weather on the same freq as the time ticks (dating myself here) and we still crossed oceans just fine but from time to time got a butt kicking but thats part of the game.
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Old 23-01-2014, 00:27   #48
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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I think if I were travelling out of season, I'd be more flexible on this point...but then my boat can heave to better than most, and this may reflect my current point of view.

The fact is that crossing the ocean takes weeks, and that weather can easily overtake you. You can't avoid a storm that didn't exist once you're 1,400 NM offshore, nor can that be forecast except as a pilot-chart probablity (and that's getting less accurate of late as well). So I would rather not try to avoid the unavoidable and simply accept that the odds are good that I'll get slapped on a long passage, and try to just keep an eye on the big picture. There's resources galore and it's increasingly easy to get at them.

I would make an exception were I travelling in convoy, because then you are obliged to consider the slowest and the least experienced people...and one presumes the costs of customized weather would be spread over several vessels! I would also make an exception were we to go from Patagonia to the Antarctic Peninsula; the absences of viable "outs" would make me want to go very much belt and suspenders.
Yes, but you don't have to just set off an hope that a storm doesn't "overtake you". If you have a really good understanding of how weather systems form and move -- and I don't think that this level of understanding can be gotten in a year of part-time study -- you can often move out of their way. I got convinced of this by watching Dr. Simon Keeling's weatherweb videos, where he explains how he figures out weather patterns weeks in advance. I would think professional help would be really invaluable crossing West to East, say, in the N Atlantic.
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Old 23-01-2014, 02:33   #49
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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Just to be clear on this, Boatman, Herb never told people what to do. He outlined his "macro" view of the weather ahead, around and behind, but as it was based largely on self-reporting yachts at sea, the validity of his forecasts and suggested routing was just that: suggested. He was always very clear that the decision on CTS was that of the skipper of the boat actually out there.
Herb did lots more than interpolate between at sea reports. Every morning he would go through an incredible amount of data from NOAA and UK Met. The value of reports from boats at sea was to ground the forecasts "from afar."

While skipper's are always responsible for their decisions, Herb kept track of what he advised and could be a little testy if you didn't do as he suggested. *grin*

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I believe it's a case of 'the greater the available information, the better the ultimate decision'.
Agreed. I really like the overlap between UK Met and NOAA in midatlantic.

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Prior to the broadcast availability of data such as Gribs, "big picture" weather data forecasts were the bailiwick of high frequency Portsmouth radio or the BBC. A weatherfax was a piece of gold.
Gribs aren't available anywhere I know of as a broadcast. You have to get them by e-mail. While they are convenient gribs are not nearly as useful as the synoptic charts available over weather fax or--if you have a deep wallet--downloaded on a sat phone. Weather fax is the way to go.
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Old 23-01-2014, 04:16   #50
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

Has anyone tried logging your own forecasts to see how accurate they are with buoy data?
I tried it for a little while against Greenwich light vessel in the channel, difficult, with a spreadsheet of estimated windspeed/wave hight every day for five days ahead just from synoptics then the actuals logged under each of the 5 days. Same with windguru data. Quite a bit of work each day but interesting. I've lost the results but from memory exact times and windspeed would be out but the general feel wasn't too bad.

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Old 23-01-2014, 04:28   #51
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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Well, I am firmly with Boatman like two bivalves sucking a rock. If one wants to cross oceans they should know the weather.
Its not machismo its that hoary word i hate: seamanship.


Ahhhrrrrrrrgggggggh! God, Seamanship! now I'll have to learn to tie a double overhead sheep shank with pike!




Mark.
I agree , never used weather routing services , but then I learned at the knee of several delivery skippers and that bunch are certifiable. Then I went and did deliveries ( for a while ) that's makes me .....hmmmm !

Advice , don't take weather advice from delivery skippers....

Dave
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Old 23-01-2014, 04:45   #52
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pirate Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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I agree , never used weather routing services , but then I learned at the knee of several delivery skippers and that bunch are certifiable. Then I went and did deliveries ( for a while ) that's makes me .....hmmmm !

Advice , don't take weather advice from delivery skippers....

Dave
Are you saying.. "They go where Cruisers fear to tread.."
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Old 23-01-2014, 04:51   #53
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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Are you saying.. "They go where Cruisers fear to tread.."
Yep, all humming " highway to the danger zone"

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Old 23-01-2014, 12:40   #54
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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Yes, but you don't have to just set off an hope that a storm doesn't "overtake you". If you have a really good understanding of how weather systems form and move -- and I don't think that this level of understanding can be gotten in a year of part-time study -- you can often move out of their way. I got convinced of this by watching Dr. Simon Keeling's weatherweb videos, where he explains how he figures out weather patterns weeks in advance. I would think professional help would be really invaluable crossing West to East, say, in the N Atlantic.
Well, you're entitled to that opinion and course of action. I didn't actually say that I hoped a storm wouldn't overtake us...rather I plan, prepare and expect that it will, but rely on my own understanding of weather forecasts and developing conditions coming behind me (for the most part, I would avoid heading at crappy weather) as a basis for go/no go decisions or radical course changes.

A sailing buddy of mine and I exchange synoptic and 500 mb charts via email of (usually) the North Atlantic. Both of us can read them and both of us as sailors know as do a few here that Force 4 and 2 m swells can be Force 6-7 and 5 m waves in practice and on the spot. We've noticed some beautiful if terrifyingly deep and huge lows this winter, which explains a lot of the dramatic shots of flooding in coastal Britain, France and Portugal.

So it's not all theory. A couple of weather courses and a few of the right kind of books (or YouTubes...I'm not a Luddite) can give you a good basis to claim to be an "advanced amateur" forecaster. Only seatime can give you the seamanship to sail without drama in most conditions, however. As I consider a developed sense of weather as one of the components of seamanship (like splicing, rigging preventers and wearing a tether, I suppose), I tend to go with those who use forecasts until they depart, and then manage on their own.
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Old 23-01-2014, 13:05   #55
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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While skipper's are always responsible for their decisions, Herb kept track of what he advised and could be a little testy if you didn't do as he suggested.... Gribs aren't available anywhere I know of as a broadcast. You have to get them by e-mail. While they are convenient gribs are not nearly as useful as the synoptic charts available over weather fax or--if you have a deep wallet--downloaded on a sat phone. Weather fax is the way to go.
I'm aware of Herb's, shall we say, opinions on the worth of his own guidance. But I'm also convinced that he would agree that his (usually correct) opinions represent only one of many data points the prudent skipper should consider.

I also agree that more data (at least relevant and current data) is better for the boat far from shore. While I'm installing an SSB/weatherfax this year, I would consider a satphone-facilitated despite the cost in order to receive any chart data if propagation via the SSB was poor. Weather, especially in the middle of those parts of the Pacific far from pretty well everything, is no place to die because you didn't want to drop $25 for a satphone download.
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Old 23-01-2014, 13:07   #56
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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Has anyone tried logging your own forecasts to see how accurate they are with buoy data?
I tried it for a little while against Greenwich light vessel in the channel, difficult, with a spreadsheet of estimated windspeed/wave hight every day for five days ahead just from synoptics then the actuals logged under each of the 5 days. Same with windguru data. Quite a bit of work each day but interesting. I've lost the results but from memory exact times and windspeed would be out but the general feel wasn't too bad.

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No, I tend to evaluate my forecasting accuracy using the boat out in the weather I've forecasted.

Your way is better in terms of keeping my rum in the glass.
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Old 23-01-2014, 13:24   #57
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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Weather, especially in the middle of those parts of the Pacific far from pretty well everything, is no place to die because you didn't want to drop $25 for a satphone download.
Not sure what satphone you are using but a large high-resolution GRIB via a Iridium satphone will cost you 6 bucks max counting the XGATE fee. This is a one download per day scenario.
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Old 23-01-2014, 13:51   #58
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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Not sure what satphone you are using but a large high-resolution GRIB via a Iridium satphone will cost you 6 bucks max counting the XGATE fee. This is a one download per day scenario.
I'm on the hard: I'm not using any satphone at the moment. But if I was to use a satphone in such a situation, I would in fact probably want four downloads in a 24-hour period to estimate developments/directions of systems. So that's $25. Not a big deal under the circumstances, but my usual default would be SSB.

Thanks for the tip.
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Old 23-01-2014, 14:39   #59
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

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I'm on the hard: I'm not using any satphone at the moment. But if I was to use a satphone in such a situation, I would in fact probably want four downloads in a 24-hour period to estimate developments/directions of systems. So that's $25. Not a big deal under the circumstances, but my usual default would be SSB.

Thanks for the tip.
We had some (4 total actually) scary systems heading at us on the northern route, west to east in the North Atlantic (Halifax to Ireland). We did two downloads per 24 hours a couple times. The forecasts didn't change all that much so normally it was one per day.

I will say that, at the time, $100/download would have been cheap as one was a 970 mbar low. OBTW, Herb had been out of SSB contact for 3/4s of the 19 day crossing. SSB weather fax was crap.

BTW, the number of expected gales on our route via the Atlantic pilot for June month was 1.
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Old 24-01-2014, 08:47   #60
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Re: Herb Hilenberg : any follow-up ?

Well, considering that a June Halifax-Ireland (probably Kinsale) passage is precisely what we are thinking about for our first transatlantic, maybe I will rethink the satphone-for-chart-downloads equation. While I expect that with a steel boat and the ability to hoist a better-than-usual length of antenna, I will get full value out of the SSB, the fact is that during periods of crappy propagation, the SSB's usefulness is adversely affected, and the logic of belt and suspenders applies.

970 mb, eh? If you've written up your experiences anywhere, I would enjoy reading it. You may be aware that today is the first anniversary of a hellacious low in the North Atlantic that dropped to 933 mb. Heaven for the weather geek, hell for the sailor.
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