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Old 20-11-2019, 11:25   #1
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How to get weather forecasts whilst offshore?

I realize that there are plenty of previous posts discussing this topic but the technology seems to change by the month and I wanted an up-to-date opinion on what is the easiest system to use for getting weather forecasts/grib files whilst cruising offshore in the North Atlantic/Caribbean area.

I have a Garmin Inreach which is great for staying in touch and it can download marine weather but it will only provide you with a forecast for one place which isnít a lot of help if you are sailing and planning a route.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 20-11-2019, 12:06   #2
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Re: How to get weather forecasts whilst offshore?

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Originally Posted by Privilege View Post
I have a Garmin Inreach which is great for staying in touch and it can download marine weather but it will only provide you with a forecast for one place which isnít a lot of help if you are sailing and planning a route.

Thanks in advance.
I like the PredictWind product, though it's a bit pricey at $240/year, though there are less expensive packages (and one more expensive). Includes weather routing and route planning using proprietary GFS and Euro models. For route planning, you can enter your polars. If you are outside of cell-phone coverage, IridiumGO ($700 for hardware; unlimited data $150/mo, but you can shut-down when you don't need it).
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Old 21-11-2019, 01:55   #3
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Re: How to get weather forecasts whilst offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Privilege View Post
I realize that there are plenty of previous posts discussing this topic but the technology seems to change by the month and I wanted an up-to-date opinion on what is the easiest system to use for getting weather forecasts/grib files whilst cruising offshore in the North Atlantic/Caribbean area.

I have a Garmin Inreach which is great for staying in touch and it can download marine weather but it will only provide you with a forecast for one place which isnít a lot of help if you are sailing and planning a route.

Thanks in advance.

First you need a program for your computer that can read GRIB files

These are the files that contain the weather data

I have been using Weather Track for IPAD for many years...it is simple , sophisticated , reliable and includes a basic routing program

https://www.weathertrack.us/ipad.html

To recieve the data you will need long range communications ...Satellite or SSB

Read the info on the link to understand your communication options

Programs like windy are available ...i have no experience


This is a weather track grib for that silly you tube cat. Transatlantic

That tropical low down south was forecast last week

They should have seen it

Click image for larger version

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Old 21-11-2019, 03:16   #4
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Re: How to get weather forecasts whilst offshore?

There are lots of options, but the easiest (as you specified) is probably to get IridiumGo + a good app/service for weather data (some recommended above).
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Old 21-11-2019, 03:42   #5
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Re: How to get weather forecasts whilst offshore?

We have used an IridiumGo and PredictWind for several years in Mexico and then the Pacific across to French Polynesia. It worked very well - well enough to make the cost worthwhile. There are so many people using this setup that PredictWind seems to keep investing money to make their system even better.

We also have an HF/SSB (ICom 802) with Pactor modem on board which we sometimes use for synoptic files to provide a bigger picture.
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Old 21-11-2019, 11:11   #6
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Re: How to get weather forecasts whilst offshore?

We have been using UUplus Personal Edition with our Iridium sat phone for years for email, to download GRIB files, WeFax, Satellite imagery, Wx forecasts, etc. For us, since we are full time, it is still cheaper [by about half] than an Iridium Go with unlimited data plan.

We have an Icom M802 with Pactor modem for back-up, but find it less reliable in higher latitudes.

Specific to gribs, and because we use Macintosh computers, we really like the LuckGrib program. Very powerful. And as a one time add-on it offers a variety of ways to download GRIBs via restricted bandwidth [e.g., sat phone, Iridium GO, weak cell signal, etc...] There is even an option to integrate with UUplus- which is perfect for us.

[If you are interested, there are many more details on our sat comms page.]

If we were making ocean passages on an ongoing basis, I would deeply investigate what other respected cruising friends have successfully relied upon: Predict Wind services via Iridium Go. They have been deemed very accurate and reliable by many ocean cruisers.

In case any of this is useful.

Cheers! Bill
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Old 21-11-2019, 14:45   #7
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Re: How to get weather forecasts whilst offshore?

KISS: SSB radio ! For instance a "Winradio"; is a Black box radio connected to a computer. several possibilities to receive and file weateher forecasts. Even spoken messages can be recorded. WiNRADiO WR-G33EM Marine Receiver
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Old 22-11-2019, 03:33   #8
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Re: How to get weather forecasts whilst offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Privilege View Post
I realize that there are plenty of previous posts discussing this topic but the technology seems to change by the month and I wanted an up-to-date opinion on what is the easiest system to use for getting weather forecasts/grib files whilst cruising offshore in the North Atlantic/Caribbean area.
Synoptic charts over weather fax are still the best available weather product. See Boston and New Orleans for products and schedules for your cruising area https://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/marine/rfax.pdf .

You can use an HF/SSB radio and Pactor modem to receive and get a lot of other benefits. Alternatively a $100 SSB-capable shortwave radio and a few bits and bobs to do the same thing. You can also receive the HF voice weather forecasts with the same gear.

The Tecsun PL-880, audio cable, antenna, and power I carry on delivery takes about 20 minutes to set up on a boat I've never been on before. Then it just sits there and works.

Gribs do not show fronts which are one of the most important elements of accurate weather forecasting on passage. They are easy but wrong. *sigh*

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We also have an HF/SSB (ICom 802) with Pactor modem on board which we sometimes use for synoptic files to provide a bigger picture.
Weather IS a big picture. Gribs provide some supplemental information. Given a choice between synoptics and gribs, synoptics are a clear winner.

https://ocean.weather.gov/shtml/A_brief.php
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Old 22-11-2019, 13:59   #9
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Re: How to get weather forecasts whilst offshore?

I only crossed 1 ocean (sorta, NJ straight to St.Martin) so I kept it cheap... In-reach for weather forecast And 'FastSeas" (~$65 / Year) subscription that will text the in-reach weather routing between 2 points including wind velocity. It can be set up to route around high winds... so that's something.

For the big picture, I bought a 'world radio' for ~$150 and connected that to my computer to get "Weather Fax" using free JVcomm32 Demo software. Worked OK, bit of a PITA and the fax quality wasn't wonderful. But it's very cheap. See attached for typical quality... not sure how that compares to SSB and Practor modem?

Once I was island hopping I just used cellular, in the Caribbean and never needed anything else
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Old 22-11-2019, 20:16   #10
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Re: How to get weather forecasts whilst offshore?

Through 2004, I was a full-time delivery captain out of San Francisco so mostly long runs. I then took a job in corporate America which was great, but kept me off the water. I'm back and getting ready to cruise, but am so rusty and so much has changed in wx products. I feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle.

I've used GRIBs via IridumGO and PredictWind for about a year and like it a lot, but something was missing compared to the old weather faxes I was used to. This thread brought it together for me. Frankly, I didn't know they were called synoptic charts, it's just what rolled off the wxfax printer every few hours.

Question : are these NOAA wx products available in a format suitable for IridumGO? Small file format? I too miss the fronts and the arrows showing moving of pressure systems. Over time, I got to know each NOAA forecaster's style pretty well, even met a couple (is Lee Chesneau still around?).
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Old 22-11-2019, 21:01   #11
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Re: How to get weather forecasts whilst offshore?

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Originally Posted by mvweebles View Post
Through 2004, I was a full-time delivery captain out of San Francisco so mostly long runs. I then took a job in corporate America which was great, but kept me off the water. I'm back and getting ready to cruise, but am so rusty and so much has changed in wx products. I feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle.

I've used GRIBs via IridumGO and PredictWind for about a year and like it a lot, but something was missing compared to the old weather faxes I was used to. This thread brought it together for me. Frankly, I didn't know they were called synoptic charts, it's just what rolled off the wxfax printer every few hours.

Question : are these NOAA wx products available in a format suitable for IridumGO? Small file format? I too miss the fronts and the arrows showing moving of pressure systems. Over time, I got to know each NOAA forecaster's style pretty well, even met a couple (is Lee Chesneau still around?).
You can get weatherfax images through saildocs via IridiumGo.

I also use salidocs to get grib files and use SailGrib WR to read them.
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Old 22-11-2019, 21:21   #12
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Re: How to get weather forecasts whilst offshore?

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Originally Posted by mvweebles View Post

Question : are these NOAA wx products available in a format suitable for IridumGO? Small file format? I too miss the fronts and the arrows showing moving of pressure systems. Over time, I got to know each NOAA forecaster's style pretty well, even met a couple (is Lee Chesneau still around?).
Instructions in this file:

https://tgftp.nws.noaa.gov/fax/ftpmail.txt

I met Lee a few years ago at the Vancouver Boat Show.
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Old 22-11-2019, 22:40   #13
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Re: How to get weather forecasts whilst offshore?

I use weather routing, and talk to them twice a day on satphone. Beyond that, predict wind, but I always feel better talking to a professional who is doing weather 24/7
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Old 23-11-2019, 13:59   #14
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Re: How to get weather forecasts whilst offshore?

I also use Garmin Inreach. It allows you to enter the coordinates for a specific location, not just your actual location. At sea I enter coordinates for 100 miles ahead of current location. Pretty basic but just wanted to point out that it's not restricted to current location.
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Old 23-11-2019, 14:05   #15
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Re: How to get weather forecasts whilst offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mvweebles View Post
Question : are these NOAA wx products available in a format suitable for IridumGO? Small file format? I too miss the fronts and the arrows showing moving of pressure systems. Over time, I got to know each NOAA forecaster's style pretty well, even met a couple (is Lee Chesneau still around?).
Sure - you can get the .gif and .tiff NOAA OPC WX products from Saildocs or directly from NOAA over ftpmail using Iridium GO!. They are not small. Small is what gribs are good at.

Lee had a stroke early this year. Last I heard from him he had moved to a nursing facility (between hospital and home). Thanks for reminding me that I'm overdue to call his wife and check in.
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