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Old 27-04-2015, 11:52   #1
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need idiot-proof way of getting weather offshore

I need to get a forecast off the East coast of the US while offshore.

I have a Globalstar sat phone with data cable and Yachtboy 400 as well as an iPad and a PC running OpenCPN.

I've only tried the YB at home, and there is too much interference to get a clean signal for either voice or GRIB.

I'm considering a subscription with PredictWind.
While I'm technically proficient, I am not a computer programmer or professional.
Constructive recommendations would be appreciated!
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Old 27-04-2015, 12:40   #2
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Re: need idiot-proof way of getting weather offshore

Look into the HF Fax app for your iPad. Wish I could be more constructive, but on a conference call at the moment.
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Old 27-04-2015, 12:43   #3
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Re: need idiot-proof way of getting weather offshore

Sorry not to have a good (idiot proof) response but have heard of folks using WeatherNet over Iridium. Marine Weather on Demand | NOAA Marine, GRIB, Buoy, Satellite Imagery | Ocens WeatherNet by Global Marine Networks Maybe it'll work over your GlobalStar satphone?
The YB400 is not something I'd want to rely on. If I were heading offshore I'd want a robust and full-featured SSB.
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Old 27-04-2015, 13:17   #4
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Re: need idiot-proof way of getting weather offshore

Can you get email offshore with your sat phone? Then I suggest you try SailDocs which is a free service. You send them an email with a command that says what weather information you want (can be Grib files or NOAA text forecasts, images from web pages, etc). In a few minutes they sent you the files via email.

You can use ZyGrib on a PC to view the grib weather files (free as well).

Let me know if you need more details. I have a Word doc with all relevant commands to get East Coast weather and gulf stream data that way.
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Old 27-04-2015, 15:23   #5
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Re: need idiot-proof way of getting weather offshore

We use navtex. Works up to about 250 miles offshore, some report 400 miles. No subscription required. We have a Furuno 300.
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Old 27-04-2015, 15:40   #6
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Re: need idiot-proof way of getting weather offshore

If you don't want to get an SSB transceiver, which some might regard as NOT idiot proof for installation and set up, then get a receive only SSB to be able to listen to Chris Parker's daily (X-Sunday) forecasts. These receivers are usually stand alone and do not require a sexy antenna or tuner. You'd get most or all of the weather info that you need. See >> https://www.mwxc.com/index.php Chris used to recommend a few receive only units on his site - not sure if he still does. Another way to get his forecasts is via email via whatever way you have to receive email. This would require a subscription to his services.

Dave
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Old 27-04-2015, 17:22   #7
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Re: need idiot-proof way of getting weather offshore

You can hire a wx router.

b.
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Old 28-04-2015, 09:13   #8
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Re: need idiot-proof way of getting weather offshore

I have Sirius Satellite Weather tied into our Garmin Chart Plotters and it is pretty thorough in its coverage. It provides most of what we need.
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Old 28-04-2015, 09:50   #9
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Re: need idiot-proof way of getting weather offshore

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOffice View Post
I need to get a forecast off the East coast of the US while offshore.

I have a Globalstar sat phone with data cable and Yachtboy 400 as well as an iPad and a PC running OpenCPN.

I've only tried the YB at home, and there is too much interference to get a clean signal for either voice or GRIB.

I'm considering a subscription with PredictWind.
While I'm technically proficient, I am not a computer programmer or professional.
Constructive recommendations would be appreciated!
Since you mentioned using your sat phone: we use the UUplus "Data [and email] service for the bandwidth deprived" service with our sat phone [and cell and wifi when available... and soon HF & VHF radio too...] for fetching our desired forecasts, gribs, WxFax, etc.

Their web fetching capability is very efficient [and uses SailDocs...] in that it won't send you old reports you haven't fetched; only the latest. [e.g., if you don't fetch your Wx reports for a few days, the next time you do you will only get the most recent reports, not those you didn't previously download.]

We find this service more than pays for itself in saved [optimized use of] sat minutes. Of course, saving sat minutes is moot if one uses a sat hot-spot device with unlimited data plan... [e.g., Iridium Go; something we are considering. And if we go this direction, we will still use UUplus for all of its features and to maintain the best speed and performance.]

Since it works over any internet connection, you can set it up before you start using your sat phone.

We highly recommend you give UUplus a trial run.

Cheers!
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Old 28-04-2015, 10:00   #10
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Re: need idiot-proof way of getting weather offshore

Quote:
Originally Posted by tominny View Post
Can you get email offshore with your sat phone? Then I suggest you try SailDocs which is a free service. You send them an email with a command that says what weather information you want (can be Grib files or NOAA text forecasts, images from web pages, etc). In a few minutes they sent you the files via email.

You can use ZyGrib on a PC to view the grib weather files (free as well).

Let me know if you need more details. I have a Word doc with all relevant commands to get East Coast weather and gulf stream data that way.
Tominny,

I would very much like to see your word file for commands. Its been a while since I attempted weather infor from sailDocs and would like to try ZyGrib.

I have an Icon 802 with a pactor 3 modum & expect to cruise from Fl to the Exuma's in July.

William L. Bowen
SVToybox@aol.com
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Old 28-04-2015, 10:04   #11
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Re: need idiot-proof way of getting weather offshore

I use Sailamail weather forecasts in the form of GRIB file attachments to an email. I send an empty email to weather@mailasail.com with a special subject line such as "grib gfs 34N:82W:37N:75W 6,9,12,15,18,21,24,30,36,42,48,54,60,66,72,78,84,9 0,96 GRD" and it will send back the GRIB file I have specified. The response is so quick I sometimes get the response before hanging up! More information is at Global Weather Downloads (GRIB / Synoptic / Text)/ Teleport-Weather | The Weather Window . It's free.

- Brian Domander
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Old 28-04-2015, 13:03   #12
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Re: need idiot-proof way of getting weather offshore

Thanks all! Just found another weather program - squid sailing - that is free and was used by the trimaran that set the speed record from Newport to Bermuda. I have tried several of your suggestions from my computer over wired internet, and am getting instant GRIBS! Now to try it over the sat phone and see how long it takes.
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Old 28-04-2015, 19:35   #13
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need idiot-proof way of getting weather offshore

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOffice View Post
Thanks all! Just found another weather program - squid sailing - that is free and was used by the trimaran that set the speed record from Newport to Bermuda. I have tried several of your suggestions from my computer over wired internet, and am getting instant GRIBS! Now to try it over the sat phone and see how long it takes.

Sorry it's not going to work over sat phone. Been there, tried that. Some good methods mentioned above. I've played around with the SW radio as well and never had reliable success, although the black cat iPad app works quite well for listening to and decoding the signal just sitting next to the radio. The most idiot proof option would be an iridium go. It would virtually replace your sat phone and a few apps on the iPad would be all that's required for weather gribs, forecasts, calls and emails. Very little setting up required and adjustable monthly plans keep costs to a minimum. Ie, use the $50 plan when sailing close to shore and unlikely to need to use it except for emergency calling, $125 unlimited plan when sailing on passages. Cancel the plan off season when it's not required at all. This can be more economical than buying a yearly data sim for the sat phone. If you stick with the sat phone you will definitely need a compression service, or compression hardware. Services are around $30/month, hardware such as iridium axcesspoint is around $150 one off fee. You would have to check if your sat provider has similar hardware. This system isn't as idiot proof as the go. Predictwind has gone through a change from using their dedicated hardware to using the iridium go but it's still sorting out bugs and not likely to be as cost effective or any better than just using the go and it's bundled apps.
Practice using the links listed above for mailasail downloads. Find all the areas and forecasts of interest and save all the links while connected to wifi internet. It's handy to know how to request a grib using the request format above, but it's not necessary if using the go or iPad with the weather4d pro app installed. This is the best iPad app for requesting and receiving gribs. For synoptic charts or txt forecasts I use the saildocs email request format. Unfortunately gribs don't show a lot of detail found on synoptic charts so I like to dl those. saildocs provides them in a small file size format.
Depending on the budget, if the satelite isn't feasible your next best bet is probably a simple satelite txt device like an in reach with a friend to txt you updates as you sail. Not ideal but probably cheaper. You would want to both dl the same grib and forecast data before heading offshore so he can update you with any changes to the forecast conditions and you will both be on the same page. I'd highly recommend you getting the weather4d pro now and playing around with it. You will need the pro version if you want to interface with the satphone or go. It's around $60 but great value and easy to use and also included routing. There's a comprehensive guide and webpage by the developer and good ongoing support.
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Old 29-04-2015, 00:11   #14
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Re: need idiot-proof way of getting weather offshore

YB is actually workable, but you need an external antenna to get decent signal. I wouldn't call it idiot-proof though.
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Old 29-04-2015, 03:33   #15
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Re: need idiot-proof way of getting weather offshore

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