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Old 18-09-2018, 16:16   #16
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

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Here's a couple other options for your inReach other than the Garmin weather feature...

WX2InReach - https://wx2inreach.weebly.com/
Basically, send the message "wx now" to wx2inreach@gmail.com and get back a weather report. There are other options for more details, etc. Use a preset message to save an outgoing, only pay for the incoming message. Free.

FastSeas - https://fastseas.com/#inreach
Send a message to query@fastseas.com (with a special format) and get back weather routing to your destination. Subscription required.
(This is a weather routing system, not a weather forecast, per se)


Thank you Robin,


I wasn't aware of the first of these options.


It looks like there might be a decent option using the InReach despite its limitations. It's certainly going to be better than the message informing us that we 'aren't on the ocean'.



-evan
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Old 18-09-2018, 16:54   #17
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

We accessed an OCENS weather subscription using the InReach in our 2015 trip from Texas thru Bahamas and back. Obtained weather forecasts every day. Never an issue. This was before Garmin acquisition, and did not used the InReach option for weather pay per forecast that they offer now. We subscribed to OCENS on a monthly basis thru their website, for unlimited 72 hr forecasts in four hour increments. I think it was $12 per month, and we turned it off when we got back home.
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Old 18-09-2018, 17:37   #18
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

I second Paul Elliot's post. Winlink is a good option. You no longer need an expensive packet controller. Winlink has developed a sound card interface. Not as fast as pactor but very good for weather text downloads. It can also be used for general email. Great way to keep in touch with family and friends.

There is still a startup cost of installing a radio and antenna system plus you need a general class or higher amateur radio license. Costs are no worse than Iridium probably less.

If you do not want to learn ham radio and take the test there is sailmail. Sailmail operates on the marine SSB bands and does the same thing as winlink. For sailmail you will need to buy a pactor modem which is pricey.
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Old 18-09-2018, 17:49   #19
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

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I have an older Globalstar Sat Phone we used in Mountaineering trips but I'm not sure how well it would adapt to data usage. I guess I need to explore that option too.


Thanks.


-evan
If you are going to add satt phone, go Iridium network. My experiences with the GlobalStar network have been really poor...especially in remote areas/well offshore.
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Old 18-09-2018, 20:16   #20
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

Thank you everyone for these very informative posts.


I have a feeling that we shared a marina or anchorage with Denali Rose somewhere in our travels this summer. Thank you for your references to good resources Bill.


I clearly need to do a little more homework on this question but these comments and feedback have been very helpful.


Any further comments or suggestions are welcome.


-evan
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Old 18-09-2018, 20:58   #21
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

Evan,


I'm not familiar with your area but do know a little about radio options.


HF/SSB is relatively unaffected by terrain. Your problem there is latitude. I would suggest you at least consider an inexpensive receive-only setup for radiofax:


NWS Radiofax


This need not be expensive or complex as neither transmit capability nor licensing are required.



While you will not get local forecasts this way, you will get larger trends from which you can draw your own conclusions.
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Old 18-09-2018, 21:46   #22
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

The further I go down this rabbit hole the stronger the case is for satellite communications vs SSB.



A receiver alone can be had for around $350 but this would have no other use than for weather and AM style radio reception.


An SSB Transceiver runs more like $2500 & up with its inherently more complex operations and limitations.



An Iridium Go! setup at ~ $700-$1000 USD for hardware and unlimited data in the $130/mo range would be quite reasonable and a lot more versatile than the SSB or InReach options.


As Canadians we paid almost $200- for US roaming fees on our cell phones just for the month of August alone. Add that to the $80-/mo InReach charges and the IridiumGo! looks quite viable.



I see that John at Attainable Adventure Cruising has come to the same conclusion...


https://www.morganscloud.com/2014/07/04/ssb-or-iridium/




The Devil is in the details so more research would be advised but this complicated question is starting to look a lot simpler.


-evan
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Old 18-09-2018, 22:01   #23
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

PredictWind have just released their own sim card. I've been told there's some cost benefits buying setup and card through them. Haven't researched it myself, was only told last night.

I have an inreach and Hf, I'll be going the iridium Go way in the future.
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Old 19-09-2018, 00:34   #24
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

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SSB is not line of sight and bounces off the atmosphere instead. So It ought to work. But I know some of the Fjords up there are pretty narrow and deep and cant say for sure.
I agree. SSB on the HF band shouldn't be affected by surrounding terrain, unless you're down really, really deeply in a fjord. I've been using winlink for years without difficulty. Get a Ham (General Class) license, and you'll be glad you did. Or you can use Sailmail to download the charts over the HF marine band. You'll need a Pactor modem for either service ($$$).

Another option is navtex: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navtex. No license required, but range is limited to 200 miles (at best). My backup is to use Globalstar sats and download the weather charts directly from NOAA, but you'll need to know how to interpret those charts. These are the charts I use (for illustration) http://www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/shtml/P_brief.shtml. I'm an instrument pilot, and I grew up on those charts. Once you've learned to use them, you can write your own weather forecast. IMHO, they're a thousand times better for getting the big picture than GRIBs. The GRIBs are like looking at the weather through a soda straw, and they say nothing about the factor that's most likely to kill you: seastate.

Globalstar coverage quits about half way to Hawaii (as does SirrusXM). Using any satellite service to download graphics files can be very frustrating - dropped calls, and expensive.

Getting weather via Ham radio has a steep learning curve, but once you've got it figured out, it's the best all around solution.


Pet peeve: we've paid all those taxes to get the weather sats put up there, yet there's no cheap or simple way to see their data at sea.

Delorme has really gone down hill since Garmin acquired them.

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Old 19-09-2018, 00:47   #25
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

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A receiver alone can be had for around $350 but this would have no other use than for weather and AM style radio reception.
You can get an adequate receiver for under $100 that will receive WFAX (using a computer or smartphone for the decoding and display). For under $150 you can get a USB-connected Software Defined Radio that will also work for WFAX.

Yes, the better receivers will cost more and perhaps be easier to use, but the cheap ones will do the job. To get GRIBs and other more-specific WX data you will need the full transceiver / antenna tuner / antenna, and hardware or software modem.

And yes, the radio propagation varies, depending on location (at both stations), time of day, time of year, and sunspot cycle. But using the proper time and frequency I have had many radio contacts from the middle latitudes into the Alaska and other far-north (and south) regions.

Iridium is great. I use it as my primary communications tool. Fjords will make satellite connections more problematic.
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Old 19-09-2018, 00:52   #26
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

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I agree. SSB on the HF band shouldn't be affected by surrounding terrain, unless you're down really, really deeply in a fjord. I've been using winlink for years without difficulty. Get a Ham (General Class) license, and you'll be glad you did. Or you can use Sailmail to download the charts over the HF marine band. You'll need a Pactor modem for either service ($$$).

Patrick
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Winlink has a new operating mode. It is called wimmor and it uses the sound card interface in your computer. It is slower than pactor but it probably won't cost anything beyond the computer you already have.

I have not used it but many members of the ARES/RACES group in my club use it regularly.
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Old 19-09-2018, 01:04   #27
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

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We accessed an OCENS weather subscription using the InReach in our 2015 trip from Texas thru Bahamas and back. Obtained weather forecasts every day. Never an issue. This was before Garmin acquisition, and did not used the InReach option for weather pay per forecast that they offer now. We subscribed to OCENS on a monthly basis thru their website, for unlimited 72 hr forecasts in four hour increments. I think it was $12 per month, and we turned it off when we got back home.
Thank you sailjumanji.

As I read more on peopleís experience using the IridiumGO! Iím beginning to think that using the InReach and an Ocens subscription you describe might be the simplest and most cost effective way to get weather forecasts. Unlike an offshore sailor looking for complex route planning polar projections & the like, our needs are a little simpler. e.g. Can we cross Hecate Strait or Dixon Entrance 2 days from now? What are the forecasted winds & sea conditions?

It would be good to access current conditions and buoy reports but none of this appears to be as simple as accessing a webpage with a standard browser.
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Old 19-09-2018, 05:54   #28
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

I believe you can use your InReach to get its forecast feature for a location remote from your current location. I am currently off my boat without my device so I cant test that, but I know that in the past I have used it to get the forecast for an area 100 miles away that I was about to return to. when you go through the steps for requesting the marine feature there is a step where you select locations. I have never tried the alternative sources mentioned in a prior post but am glad to have learned about them. returning to Majuro soon.
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Old 19-09-2018, 07:24   #29
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

I augment the InReach weather with as-needed additional detail from my adult son ashore. I send him an inreach message with planned route and he looks on the Internet. He has a 30 year old’s ability to say a lot in 160 characters. He’s never needed more than two messages.

I only bother him when the InReach weather report is worrisome or we have a long passage that is inconvenient to do with InReach multiple Lat/Lon locations. This rarely is needed more than a few times a month as we don’t need it at anchor or near a cell signal.

He also keeps an eye on my route from the InReach tracking and will send a forecast without prompting if there is a major storm or hurricane risk.

It’s worked great.
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Old 19-09-2018, 07:28   #30
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Re: Practical Options for Marine Weather forecasts in remote areas

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Thank you sailjumanji.

As I read more on peopleís experience using the IridiumGO! Iím beginning to think that using the InReach and an Ocens subscription you describe might be the simplest and most cost effective way to get weather forecasts. Unlike an offshore sailor looking for complex route planning polar projections & the like, our needs are a little simpler. e.g. Can we cross Hecate Strait or Dixon Entrance 2 days from now? What are the forecasted winds & sea conditions?

It would be good to access current conditions and buoy reports but none of this appears to be as simple as accessing a webpage with a standard browser.
NOAA bouy data is accessible with a standard browser (assuming you have Internet service).

See: https://www.ndbc.noaa.gov


NOAA bouy data can also be access by phone.

See: https://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/dial.shtml
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