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View Poll Results: Do you use a weather routing service (can select more than 1 answer)
never - I do my own forecasting 16 61.54%
yes - on long open water passages 7 26.92%
I believe them too expensive 4 15.38%
I believe them money well spent 5 19.23%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 26. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 24-11-2010, 05:39   #1
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Weather Routing Sevices

I just read an article in Sail about someone using a weather service for a trip from Portsmouth NH (New England USA) to St. Martin. Between weather and phone calls the service cost him $345. I just was wondering how many people use such services given the costs?
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Old 24-11-2010, 06:14   #2
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I've used a weather service that was a lot cheaper than that but still cost around $100. It was well worth the money. I could get weather summaries and personalized recommendations on the SSB. This service also has phone and internet support. There is also a "free" weather service and net out of Canada, but if you use it for personalized weather it's nice to donate something. There are also several SSB nets that give local weather and forecasts that can be extremely useful. Information like when to cross through the "passes" in the Bahamas.

On our trip from Florida to Puerto Rico I found that weather was probably the biggest "issue" so any good information was really valuable. Of course, if you are close in to the US, including Puerto Rico and the USVI you can get the NOAA weather on the VHF and NOAA weather is also available on SSB.

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Old 24-11-2010, 07:17   #3
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I use weather routing services on the big boat. It costs $75-100/day depending on the options. I use these professionals because they tend to see things further out than either my crew or I do and they see things sooner.

On my personal boat, I rely on my growing weather knowledge and the free weather forecasts (Chris Parker, Southbound II, and others). The last time I crossed the pond to the Med, I got a weather forecast once a week and found them to be almost spot on.
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Old 24-11-2010, 07:37   #4
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I like to do my own forecasting, but on the boat I don't have access to the Internet weather sources, just WeFax, GRIBs and voice;, so weather routing services are a convenient way to get expert weather analysis via email or SSB. I've always thought it was worth the cost. I never followed the advice blindly, having always formed my own opinion based on what I was able to garner via the SSB. On my last passage, Chris Parker's advice was critical, as there was a cold front advancing from the west and a strong, squally tropical wave bearing down on us from the east. His analysis caused me to radically change our route so we could be in the open ocean rather than amongst the Bahamian reefs and islands when the two converged. His charge for a one-time passage routing was $90.
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Old 24-11-2010, 08:22   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Lucas View Post
I just read an article in Sail about someone using a weather service for a trip from Portsmouth NH (New England USA) to St. Martin. Between weather and phone calls the service cost him $345. I just was wondering how many people use such services given the costs?
Now for that kind of cash i would like to order the weather I wanted!

personally I think it's over rated, weatherfax always works well for me and is cheap to recieve, that and a barometer. Even gribs offshore i think are a double edged sword, you think thats the way the world will be in your own little area without looking at the big picture and there is a tendency to blindly believe the info coming in. Spend the money on Dashews weather book and some nice wine instead.
All IMHO of course.
Look at this mob for an example of what happens when you listen to someone else ....
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Old 24-11-2010, 09:01   #6
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Pretty much agree with "conachair" on this one. I get a series of proper forecasts for a few days before a trip to get a feel for what's going on, then the latest 5 day grib on sailing. After that, its the Mark 1 Eyeball, the Barometer - and knowing how and when to heave-to! Tony
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Old 24-11-2010, 13:23   #7
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Just to move forward from page 3 to get more votes on the poll. Lots of views and little votes. But then I didn't vote on my own poll as it really hasn't applied to me yet.
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Old 24-11-2010, 13:32   #8
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Interesting survey, Don.

My impression is that the big megayachts rely on such services extensively, especially in terms of identifying good weather windows for deliveries to the next port. When it comes to the expense of such services, I doubt that the CF crowd comprises much of their customer base.
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Old 29-01-2011, 04:12   #9
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Since we're leaving Mexico for the South Pacific in about seven weeks (weather permitting) I'd like to know, of the professional weather routing services, which have been the most accurate? Which have been the least? The most responsive? The least? Thanks.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 29-01-2011, 05:50   #10
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We used a wether router when crossing the Atlantic in 2007 with the ARC and the results were better than expected.
Another skipper did semi professional routing and his lightweight race boat was so crowded with crew, he asked us to carry five spare spinnakers for him in exchange for freebie weather routing via sailmail.
We showed him the designers polar vectors for our yacht, discussed what best suited our three person crew both day and night, and every 12 hours we ensured he was updated with our position and every two days he reviewed what was immediately in front of us - or coming up - and provided a detailed recommendation.
It was detailed - go to xx.xxN xx.xxW and then head on xxx for 500 miles etc.....
As stated we were only 3 up on a reasonably fast 46 foot Hanse, and had a limited sail wardrobe, but we were happy to push hard, had lots of race experience, but could not afford any breakages.
His route ended up surprising us all. It took us initially slightly north of west from the Canaries when a majority headed S/SW. But by day 3 we were lying 19th out of the complete fleet of 260 boats - and whilst we were not in racing division - we were well ahead of many bigger boats - some indeed from the 45 boat race divisions.
By day 6 he advised we were not going fast enough to get over the top of a convergance happening 1000 miles in front, so suggested we sacrifice our westing - sending us due south for 300 miles, before suggesting we dare swing west once more.
It looked like the mark of Zorro on a chart - but facts are we still got in 27th overall - beat every other Hanse - won the Prime Ministers Trophy for Cruising Division A - and most importantly just got in with no real damage before the tail of a hurricane lashed the remainder of the fleet.........

From this experience Don, I'd definately rate a good weather router as being worth a few hundred dollars for support on an ocean crossing.

Cheers
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Old 29-01-2011, 06:08   #11
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Would you mind telling me who you used for weather routing? Thanks.

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Old 29-01-2011, 08:09   #12
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Anthony Richards. He was campaigning a Kerr 11M named Minni the Moocher.
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Old 29-01-2011, 08:19   #13
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We have used Herb Hilgenberg of Southbound II for a couple of decades for any Atlantic and Caribbean crossing and found him to be the absolute best we a have encountered. And he is free, although he accepts and we send, contributions to help him maintain his equipment, and he broadcasts over SSB. We also supplement Herb's forecasts with our own downloads of weatherfax information. Herb's website is South Bound II VAX498 - Ship routing and weather forecasting . Herb can be a bit quirky, but he is very good at what he does and we have found him much more accurate then the "professionals". He has access to all of the NWS resources. Chuck
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Old 29-01-2011, 08:42   #14
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I use the MaxSea Time Zero routing program when offshore and download gribs by Globalstar to the program from MaxSea's web site. The program takes the gribs and the boats polars and then gives sailing directions, even which sails to use. The weather forcast is as good or better than services such as Commanders as is takes into account the speed of my boat. the program is not cheap but worth the money if you frequently sail offshore.
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Old 29-01-2011, 08:57   #15
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I think Herb's forecasts are first rate, but his routing advice pushes toward light air. I have had to remind him that I want 15-20 and will risk up to 30 to avoid below 10.
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