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Old 08-07-2016, 05:50   #1
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Internet-Independent Weather

Weather is one of the weak points in my mastery of the various disciplines needed to be a good mariner, and I'm trying to improve these skills.

For years I have relied on coast guard forecasts, NAVTEX, and computer model forecasts from services like Passageweather.com.

This works reasonably well -- the GRIBS from passageweather.com (generated by the GFS model) give a reasonably accurate picture of what you will be dealing with, usually.

But I sometimes two or three days at a time out of mobile phone coverage and so without Internet. I don't like using two or three day old forecasts. And once I start sailing further afield, then these methods anyway become obsolete.

SO --

it seems to me a good time to start weaning myself off Internet-based resources.

I have an M802 and Pactor modem, and I think I'll start using this setup even when I'm in range of mobile phone data, just to get used to doing it.

What are the most valuable resources?

Here is what I have in mind:

1. Weatherfax from one of these stations: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/rfax.pdf

For example, the English one:

Broadcast schedule and frequencies for Northwood (GYA), England.
GYA Frequencies Broadcast Type Times in UTC/GMT
2618.5 (2616.6) kHz*
4610 (4608.1) kHz
8040 (8038.1) kHz
11086.5 (11084.6) kHz
18261 (18259.1) kHz* Surface Analysis 0300, 0400, 0500, 0900, 1100, 1200, 1500, 1800, 2100, 2300.
Surface prog T24 0524, 0800, 1000, 1300, 1736, 2200.
Wind 0812, 2112
Fronts Centres 0848, 0912, 1124, 1136, 1400, 1600, 1700, 2000, 2012, 2024, 2036,
Gale Summary 0348, 0600, 0700, 1148, 1548, 1900,
Sea Swell 0924, 1912,




2. Meteorologist text forecasts and warnings from the Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD) by RTTY. These look good:

http://www.dwd.de/EN/specialusers/sh...cationFile&v=1

http://www.dwd.de/EN/specialusers/sh...cationFile&v=1

This covers Baltic, North Sea, and European Atlantic coasts.




This has some good information:

HF Radio Weather




3. Then for GRIBS, upon which I am inordinately dependent, I would use SailDocs.



Does this sound like a reasonable approach?

I will be very interested to know what others are doing.
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Old 08-07-2016, 08:30   #2
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Re: Internet-Independent Weather

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
3. Then for GRIBS, upon which I am inordinately dependent, I would use SailDocs.



Does this sound like a reasonable approach?

I will be very interested to know what others are doing.
All sounds perfectly reasonable to me. And not much different from what people have been doing for the past decade or two.


As to what others are doing, I think the big established trend of well-funded ocean racers is to use subscriptions to multiple high resolution ensemble forecasts fed into software that presents both the GRIB data and sea state models and then does routing for you.


The big software program is of course Expedition. For which you need a fair bit of GPU and CPU grunt.


Will Oxley's book _Modern Race Navigation: Expedition Software in Action_ (available in the Kindle ecosystem from Amazon, e.g. https://www.amazon.com.au/Modern-Rac.../dp/B00JASD2AI) is part of that trend. Some parts of Oxley's book have been serialised in Australian Sailing.


From that comes what looks might become a trend for cruisers of using software such as Squid Mobile (on iCrap and Android tablets and phones) and buying a subscription such as the HiRes pack (9 HiRes GRiB models + 5 sea state and ocean current models + 1 ensemble forecast model, all for Euro 34/year) (see: Hires subscription - Squid - fichiers grib et routage).


You would still download your GRIB and model data via e-mail, but then you need to feed it into the Squid Mobile app on your iCrap or Android tablet. But your GRIB models are based on the European IFS/CEP model, not the US GFS model. And we're talking resolutions on the surface of 1 - 3 km (0.5 - 1.6 nm). Squid Sailing reckons it packs its GRIB data efficiently and can attach to an email.


At the moment, Squid's HiRes pack of models is focused on Europe and the Caribbean.


Squid Sailing (aka Belgium-based The Great Circle) retail other high(er) resolution packs of models for the European race circuit and certain other ocean races - those models cost bigger bucks (e.g. Euro 100/month).
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Old 08-07-2016, 10:50   #3
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Re: Internet-Independent Weather

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Mighty View Post
All sounds perfectly reasonable to me. And not much different from what people have been doing for the past decade or two.


As to what others are doing, I think the big established trend of well-funded ocean racers is to use subscriptions to multiple high resolution ensemble forecasts fed into software that presents both the GRIB data and sea state models and then does routing for you.


The big software program is of course Expedition. For which you need a fair bit of GPU and CPU grunt.


Will Oxley's book _Modern Race Navigation: Expedition Software in Action_ (available in the Kindle ecosystem from Amazon, e.g. https://www.amazon.com.au/Modern-Rac.../dp/B00JASD2AI) is part of that trend. Some parts of Oxley's book have been serialised in Australian Sailing.


From that comes what looks might become a trend for cruisers of using software such as Squid Mobile (on iCrap and Android tablets and phones) and buying a subscription such as the HiRes pack (9 HiRes GRiB models + 5 sea state and ocean current models + 1 ensemble forecast model, all for Euro 34/year) (see: Hires subscription - Squid - fichiers grib et routage).


You would still download your GRIB and model data via e-mail, but then you need to feed it into the Squid Mobile app on your iCrap or Android tablet. But your GRIB models are based on the European IFS/CEP model, not the US GFS model. And we're talking resolutions on the surface of 1 - 3 km (0.5 - 1.6 nm). Squid Sailing reckons it packs its GRIB data efficiently and can attach to an email.


At the moment, Squid's HiRes pack of models is focused on Europe and the Caribbean.


Squid Sailing (aka Belgium-based The Great Circle) retail other high(er) resolution packs of models for the European race circuit and certain other ocean races - those models cost bigger bucks (e.g. Euro 100/month).
Thanks. That looks quite interesting, actually.

I haven't used the IFS model -- but passageweather has COAMPS and WRF besides GFS.

I wonder what the typical set of downloads weighs, and whether it's realistic to get it via SailMail.
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Old 08-07-2016, 18:30   #4
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Re: Internet-Independent Weather

Squid Sailing (aka The Great Circle) uses bzip2 and/or gzip to squeeze its GriB data into tinier chunks.

7-zip has a bzip2 encoder/decoder, so you could play with an GrIB to see for yourself how good bzip2 is. Bzip2 is, from what little I understand of it, only useful when data is in chunks bigger than 100 KB. I've used Sailmail and Saildocs via Pactor to get GFS GRiBs. See no reason why bigger files would not come as easily - it's only about error correction, time connected, RF interference, etc.


As I see it (and likely did not explain well), what I see as the big unique selling points of Squid Mobile are:


i. access to the European numeric models (which you have access to via passageweather);


ii. access to ensemble forecasts (such as GEFS) instead of the deterministic forecasts (such as GFS or ECMWF);


iii. multiple numeric models;


iv. sea state models as well as weather models;


v. high resolution models (of both deterministic models such as GFS and ensemble models such as GEFS) so you're more likely to see the weather in the 1 nautical mile squared where you are/will be than an average of weather over a much bigger chunk (several nm2).


I think (i) and (ii) are the big ones. You cannot ignore (iii), (iv), and (v).


Let me try explain the difference between a simple deterministic forecast (such as the GFS or ECMWF numeric models) vs an ensemble forecast (such as GEFS): in a deterministic model, the parameters are set and the model is run. Any tiny error in one of those initial parameters can be amplified so the final result, 24 hours or 36 hours etc out, can be incorrect. In an ensemble model, several deterministic models are run, with tiny changes to key parameters of the initial state. Each of those several models is a member of the ensemble. When many models, even with those slightly different initial settings, give the same forecast, then the likelihood that forecast is going to eventuate is high. So ensemble forecasts become robust through probability.


Will Oxley has done a better job of explaining it ...
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Old 08-07-2016, 19:34   #5
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Re: Internet-Independent Weather

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Mighty View Post
Squid Sailing (aka The Great Circle) uses bzip2 and/or gzip to squeeze its GriB data into tinier chunks.

7-zip has a bzip2 encoder/decoder, so you could play with an GrIB to see for yourself how good bzip2 is. Bzip2 is, from what little I understand of it, only useful when data is in chunks bigger than 100 KB. I've used Sailmail and Saildocs via Pactor to get GFS GRiBs. See no reason why bigger files would not come as easily - it's only about error correction, time connected, RF interference, etc.


As I see it (and likely did not explain well), what I see as the big unique selling points of Squid Mobile are:


i. access to the European numeric models (which you have access to via passageweather);


ii. access to ensemble forecasts (such as GEFS) instead of the deterministic forecasts (such as GFS or ECMWF);


iii. multiple numeric models;


iv. sea state models as well as weather models;


v. high resolution models (of both deterministic models such as GFS and ensemble models such as GEFS) so you're more likely to see the weather in the 1 nautical mile squared where you are/will be than an average of weather over a much bigger chunk (several nm2).


I think (i) and (ii) are the big ones. You cannot ignore (iii), (iv), and (v).


Let me try explain the difference between a simple deterministic forecast (such as the GFS or ECMWF numeric models) vs an ensemble forecast (such as GEFS): in a deterministic model, the parameters are set and the model is run. Any tiny error in one of those initial parameters can be amplified so the final result, 24 hours or 36 hours etc out, can be incorrect. In an ensemble model, several deterministic models are run, with tiny changes to key parameters of the initial state. Each of those several models is a member of the ensemble. When many models, even with those slightly different initial settings, give the same forecast, then the likelihood that forecast is going to eventuate is high. So ensemble forecasts become robust through probability.


Will Oxley has done a better job of explaining it ...
Wow -- really interesting. I see I have quite a lot of studying to do . . .
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Old 23-10-2016, 05:46   #6
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WEATHER and how to??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post

What are the most valuable resources?

I will be very interested to know what others are doing.

Dockhead, after having spent many hours during the last few weeks on trying to educate myself about SSB and weather reports and forecasts it is my sincere opinion that Cruisersforum lacks an easy to find, no-nonsense, clutter-free MAIN-forum about weather, and how to obtain wx reports, forecasts, charts, on coastal waters and off-shore, with and without internet. Yes, of course the information is there, but I find it to be very scattered and difficult to find. For example, this "Weather" forum is not a "main" forum, instead it is a sub-forum within the "Seamanship & Boat Handling". A sub-forum. Took me days to spot it. And I'm not a new member.

Furthermore, if a newbie comes to the forum wanting to find all about how to get offshore weather reports he/she will find very little under the "Weather" forum. Instead, after having spent much time searching and he/she uses the Google search and he may find something under the "Marine Electronics" by some very helpful contributors there, but it's scattered and difficult to find at times.

What I'm trying to say is that Cruisersforum has room to improve about how to find that information.

I did not want to write this just to rant, so I suggest the following:

Rename "Seamanship & Boat Handling" into "Seamanship, Boat Handling and Weather". Include a sticky with good links about how to obtain weather reports, forecasts, audio, charts, on coastal waters and off-shore, with and without internet, laptop, ipad, tablet, smart phone, with marine HF, with ham, Pactor, SailMail, Winlink, weather fax, portable receiver, with satellite equipment...

I thinks the subject "Weather" deserves better...
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Old 23-10-2016, 09:19   #7
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Re: Internet-Independent Weather

Dockehead,

Since you've got an SSB+Pactor set up already, you've got most of what you need to get loads of good weather info. Its realtivley simple and inexpensive to get set up for Weather Fax reception.

Weather FAX has been my primary source of weather underway offshore for decades. Also handy when in remote anchorages waiting for a weather window. I set my system (Xaxero) up to auto-receive so that it automatically downloads all charts for each transmission session. Then on my schedule, I can go back and review them. Handy for "chart sequencing" too, where you compare past forecasts to actual conditions/current forecasts to better see patterns and establish level of confidence in the forecasts.

NOAA, and other agencies, also make voice broadcasts.

Some pros, like Chris Parker, do regular SSB voice broadcasts as well as custom forecasts/weather routing via email (over Pactor) and/or via SSB voice comm.

Cruisers radio nets usually broadcast weather info (at least regurgitating the offcial forecast...and sometimes discussion by good amateurs). Areas of coverage and schedules for most nets can be found on www.noonsite.com.

With PACTOR/email you can download most forecast products via services like SailMail.

https://sailmail.com/
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Old 24-10-2016, 03:07   #8
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Re: Internet-Independent Weather

I certainly second the idea of a proper wweather receiving forum. I have both an Icom 802 and a Iridium Extreme and I thought I was covered wearing both aa belt and suspenders.

Well - turns out the Iridium doesn't work with Windows 10 and guess what it is impossible to buy a new computer with windows 7 or 8.

I have an aversion to apple so I'm stuck. Iridium says laconically "yeah we know about this, and maybe we'll get around to writing a fix in 6 months or so - or maybe it will be at a later date."

Did someone say "Customer service"?

On the SSB side, All my hardware works and I been trying to get gribs from both winlink and now arimail 3 buth I can't seem to get these on a regular basis.

I know about the weather fax - but how do I set this up and receive it?

anybody got a step by step (for dummies like me) instruction?
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Old 24-10-2016, 03:44   #9
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Re: Internet-Independent Weather

Quote:
Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
I certainly second the idea of a proper wweather receiving forum. I have both an Icom 802 and a Iridium Extreme and I thought I was covered wearing both aa belt and suspenders.

Well - turns out the Iridium doesn't work with Windows 10 and guess what it is impossible to buy a new computer with windows 7 or 8.

I have an aversion to apple so I'm stuck. Iridium says laconically "yeah we know about this, and maybe we'll get around to writing a fix in 6 months or so - or maybe it will be at a later date."

Did someone say "Customer service"?

On the SSB side, All my hardware works and I been trying to get gribs from both winlink and now arimail 3 buth I can't seem to get these on a regular basis.

I know about the weather fax - but how do I set this up and receive it?

anybody got a step by step (for dummies like me) instruction?
LOL, I was just going to write a lengthy bit about satellite received weather! Being a MAC guy I never realized Iridium didn't support Windows 10.... but then again I wonder why anyone would bother with Windows in the first place
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Old 24-10-2016, 06:30   #10
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Re: Internet-Independent Weather

Plenty of 802 owners here who should be able to give specifics on Weather FAX set up.

Generally you just tap into the audio output of the radio and then either to an external demodulator and then to a computer or directly to the audio in on the computer. Details such as type of cables needed and where to connect vary by radio.
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Old 24-10-2016, 07:53   #11
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Re: Internet-Independent Weather

Quote:
Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
I certainly second the idea of a proper wweather receiving forum. I have both an Icom 802 and a Iridium Extreme and I thought I was covered wearing both aa belt and suspenders.

Well - turns out the Iridium doesn't work with Windows 10 and guess what it is impossible to buy a new computer with windows 7 or 8.

I have an aversion to apple so I'm stuck. Iridium says laconically "yeah we know about this, and maybe we'll get around to writing a fix in 6 months or so - or maybe it will be at a later date."

Did someone say "Customer service"?

On the SSB side, All my hardware works and I been trying to get gribs from both winlink and now arimail 3 buth I can't seem to get these on a regular basis.

I know about the weather fax - but how do I set this up and receive it?

anybody got a step by step (for dummies like me) instruction?
There is a simple downgrade path from 10 to 8.1. I did it my, due to incompatibility with my touch pad. I was pleased - prefer the UI. Go to the Windows website and you can find instructions.

Sent from my D6633 using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app
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Old 24-10-2016, 07:54   #12
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Re: Internet-Independent Weather

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Plenty of 802 owners here who should be able to give specifics on Weather FAX set up.

Generally you just tap into the audio output of the radio and then either to an external demodulator and then to a computer or directly to the audio in on the computer. Details such as type of cables needed and where to connect vary by radio.
===

Or if you have an 802 with a Pactor all of the interconnections are already set up. All you have to do is select the "Get FAX" option with the Airmail program. Get FAX already has a list of stations and frequencies built into the software and it takes care of managing the 802 settings.
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Old 24-10-2016, 08:46   #13
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Re: Internet-Independent Weather

I'm a big fan of the NOAA weatherfax output, particularly the forecast models. I get them through SSB, plugged into a program on my Mac which renders the images.

I'm a particular fan of their surface analysis/forecast and wind/wave analysis/forecast.

I download the 24h, 48h, and 96h surface forecasts each day as well as the surface analysis, and then examine/compare them on a rolling basis which gives me insight on how the forecast is changing over time and what is driving it.

The wind/wave analysis provides high level GRIB and sea state.

What I like about these is that I get a snapshot of how things are now, and an interpretative forecast by a weather expert, which I am not.

Upside is that they are pretty macro and high level which allows for better planning. Downside is they are pretty macro and high level so that local conditions are not represented. Other downside is that occasionally reception is not good enough to get readable downloads.

When racing and serving as navigator/weather crew (which is an awful job given how much time you spend below), I usually rely on satellite phone access to OCENS products.
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Old 24-10-2016, 09:11   #14
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Re: Internet-Independent Weather

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.... but then again I wonder why anyone would bother with Windows in the first place

Because until recently if you wanted to run Macros on Excel it had to be on a Windows machine. Numbers on Apple machines doesn't run Macros and frankly was a mediocre spreadsheet to begin with.
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Old 24-10-2016, 10:19   #15
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Re: Internet-Independent Weather

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... but then again I wonder why anyone would bother with Windows in the first place
Because it is reasonably open and controllable, unlike Mac.

Because it is reasonably developed, packaged, and supported, unlike Linux.

I'm an old Unix user and am far more attracted to Linux than to Windows, but I just don't have time and energy to deal with the drivers and all the setup . . .

Mac, for me, is the way computers should work for users who are toddlers and shouldn't be allowed to get into trouble with any significant choices about anything. Just drag and drop; even a monkey can do it.

Clearly a most subjective opinion, since several really smart people I know use Mac.

But I'll tell you a funny story about one of them. I was teasing him -- how can you stand to use that one-button mouse? For God's sake -- how awkward it is have to drag stuff all over the place, instead of just giving a command? His answer was to protest -- but we have lots of keyboard shortcuts in Mac! But then I watched him using his computer -- all he did was drag stuff around with it. Bleh!
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