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Old 27-05-2017, 21:11   #16
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Re: Personal weather service?

ka4wja,

My hesitation on the WeFax via HF is that HF only has a range of 1900 miles. Which should be okay most of the time....but if I found myself out of range or sun spots....what then? I'm surprised that this data is not available via Satellite...I was sure I just did not know where to look.

I was planning on enlisting the help of a weather router with communication via satellite....But I don't want to be so dependent on this should there be some form of equipment failure and comm ceases. So I'm looking for a back up even though I do plan to have duplicate sat comm equipment
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Old 28-05-2017, 08:34   #17
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Re: Personal weather service?

Limpet,
I understand that you're asking a weather question in the weather section, which is good....
But, it has hindered me getting you the info (and hindered you a bit in getting the info)...
As well as you not really giving us much in the way of detail of what you are doing/planning, etc., nor any background on your experience with both weather forecasts and ocean sailing....
But, we'll get you going!
[BTW, on a side note, thank you for wanting to know all of this....in my 50 years of sailing/cruising/voyaging (started as a kid in 1965) as well as my 40+ years in electronics/communications, I still try to learn something new as often as I can!!]

I'm going to start with the basics, and not try to BS you with lots of numbers (I will give you plenty of tech info and lots of numbers, too....just gonna' start with the basics)


As for weather info / forecasts when at sea, and in remote locales....HF radio still rules...(unless you've got a big boat, and a big wallet for sat comm terminals, HF radio is still the best overall approach!)
Please read this thread here, for details...
Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts




1) First off, HF communications is worldwide....
HF range is worldwide...
And, HF stations are worldwide....(both maritime and ham)

I regularly listen to Australian maritime weather broadcasts on HF, from my boat, at the dock, in S. Florida....9600 to 11,000 miles away.....and regularly talk to various stations across the US, EU, Asia, etc....and over the past 40 years, my educated guess is the "average" distance (discounting talking to my friends who are local, < 25 miles) I've communicated across has been 4000 to 5000 miles...

I am somewhat surprised by your comment that HF radio only had a range of 1900 miles??? Where in the world did you read that??
It's completely false!!

[And, on another side note, if you ever made an overseas phone call prior to 1956, it went across the world via HF radio....the first undersea telephone cable was operational in sept 1956, but even then only could handle 36 channels at a time, from US/Canada to Scotland/England....other undersea cables were laid in the coming decades, and in the 1970's there were fewer HF radiotelephone links being used on land....and with GTE, Western Union, AT&T, etc. and in an international-coop, INTELSAT, launching satellites in the mid/late 70's and into the 80's, this moved a great deal of international and trans-ocean telephone traffic to these satellites....but, technology does move-on, and in the 90's the advancements in both fiber-optics and undersea cable systems, most international telephone traffic was on undersea cables....and then the bandwidth needed for the internet overtook that of the voice telephone very, very quickly....and now we have VoIP, etc....oh, but there are still many small / remote areas that still use INTELSAT for their international telephone and internet....
But, the only ones still using HF radio for telephone (and e-mail) are mariners (and some ham operators) and those in very remote areas (including some polar areas)...heck, I made a phone call over HF radio recently...it was crisp/clear, and easy-peasy!!]



2) HF radio communications (also called "shortwave") has been used since the 1920's, and since the 1940's/50's has become quite reliable and sophisticated...
Modern 21st Century HF communications is used worldwide everyday by 1000's mariners.....and on-land by millions of ham radio operators (and militaries) worldwide, everyday....and is used my 10's of millions of laypersons everyday, listening to the BBC, Voice or America, etc. etc., worldwide...



3) When it comes to HF radio that pertains to us (sailors/cruisers/voyagers), the main focus is:
a) Safety (and Distress) communications (both to shore stations and other vessels)
b) Weather information / forecasts
c) Contact with other vessels (both merchant and other pleasure boats)
d) News and information
e) Contact with others on-shore (friends, family, business, etc. whether by radiotelephone or digital/e-mail)

BTW, in addition to the stations that everyone seems to know about (like the USCG), there are currently more than 80 HF coast stations worldwide, with practically worldwide coverage....reliable/daily communications ranges of > 5000 miles (and more than 450 MF coast stations worldwide), that are all part of the GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress and Safety System), and are there for you worldwide 24/7/365....(but, remember that while all these stations have HF SSB Voice communications capabilities, as do all SOLAS-grade merchant vessels, they do not all monitor for Voice calls....except for the USCG, Aus and NZ maritime authorities....all of these stations, and vessels, maintain a radio watch via MF/HF-DSC only.....the USCG, Aus and NZ maritime auth still maintain a Voice SSB radiowatch, as well as HF-DSC!!




4) As for your query about weather info and a weather router...
And, especially your comment about what to do if you have an equipment failure, etc...
Well....where to start??
Quote:
Originally Posted by Limpet View Post
ka4wja,

My hesitation on the WeFax via HF is that HF only has a range of 1900 miles. Which should be okay most of the time....but if I found myself out of range or sun spots....what then? I'm surprised that this data is not available via Satellite...I was sure I just did not know where to look.

I was planning on enlisting the help of a weather router with communication via satellite....But I don't want to be so dependent on this should there be some form of equipment failure and comm ceases. So I'm looking for a back up even though I do plan to have duplicate sat comm equipment
a) First off, I might be reading between the lines incorrectly, so if I am, please forgive me!!
But, it seems that this might be your first offshore passage???
If so, understand a couple things....
--- As I wrote earlier, nobody can control your weather, no weather router can help...
--- YOU control where your boat is...not a weather router...ever...
--- Accept that you will need to sail with the weather that you have....no matter what some "expert" tells you about "weather windows", accept that unless you're on a long downwind milk-run (or a short 2 to 3 day passage), there really aren't "weather windows" for slow boats on big oceans!!
--- The above notwithstanding, yes of course you want to sail a passage at the right time of year, etc. (look at the pilot charts, they're free, you know!) , and you should look at long-range forecasts (they're free, too!) to get a feel for weather patterns (El nino, La nina, etc.)..and yes, plan to leave with a favorable forecast....grab a weather forecast once (or twice) per day when on passage, and adjust your course as needed to find the best weather....
If you do the above, no weather router is going to be of much additional help...

b) Remember that mariners have safely sailed the oceans for many, many years without any "weather info", except for what they see with their own eyes....
Heck, when starting out in the 60's, all we ever had was a 2-day forecast before heading offshore, and then nothing until we got to where we were going....in the 70's I equipped with HF WeFax, and while signals and equipment have changed and improved, I still use it!

And, most importantly, understand on long ocean passages you are much more apt to have mechanical issues / chafe / etc. than a radio failure!!
Actually most find the boat will take much more than the crew!!!
(I will try to find a thread discussing all of this, and point you there...rather delving into this here...'cuz we're talking about weather here...
Although, the one piece of "electronics" that is often over-looked and many have troubles with, is the autopilot....and this is almost always the mechanical parts or lack of electrical power to run it sufficiently...

Do NOT worry about what to do if you have a communications failure....if you can keep the water on the outside of the boat, keep the mast up and sails attached, and keep the boat pointing in reasonably the right direction (use your compass!), you will get to where you are going, safely!!!


c) Why in the world would you plan on having "duplicate sat comm equipment"???
What are you planning on doing with all that sat comm gear??
You are aware that most ocean sailors (even today) have no sat comm gear at all (except for a 406mhz EPIRB, of course)
{fyi, for over 30 years I've made my living in the sat comm industry, last 20 years specializing in commercial sat comm....so in addition to being an ocean sailor, I have significant expertize in sat comm....so, I'm not asking out of ignorance, but curiosity...(assume you must have a shoreside business that you need to be in contact with everyday, for hours at a time?) }


d) My fault for assuming you had all this basic info....so, please read this thread here...
Offshore / Hi-Seas Weather data / forecasts


And, please watch these videos...

Maritime HF communications
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y


HF-DSC Communications
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX


Offshore Weather
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY


Offshore Sailing
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...KgTCj15iyl6qoY




I hope this clarifies things...

Fair winds...

John
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