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Old 26-07-2020, 08:48   #31
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Re: What weather information makes you take action when offshore?

What action to take, if you receive information that weather will change when already offshore.

In the off chance the weather will change for the best, be like the British:
Stay Calm and Carry On.

If for the adverse:

Voyage to protected shore / harbor if distance and time allow. Or change course to provide for improved maneuverability and / or reduced adverse exposure.

No or little wind - consider utilizing the iron jib, turning engine on and motor.

Too much wind - smaller sails.

Even further too much wind - yet smaller sails, or go bare, or heave-to and go below.

Blizzard - stow sails, remove items from deck, remove and stow dinghy, dig out snow shovel - clear cockpit and decks from time to time.

Sand / dust storm - close hatches, prepare to grit teeth, [errhh, correction to have grit in teeth], wear swimming goggles and ear plugs and facemask.

Water spout - Secure Toto the Dog - hang on - spin in circles; assess damage after saying WTF.

Change in wind direction - adjust sails, adjust course.

Too hot - sweat, break out cool drinks.

Large swells and waves - ride the elevator.

Mixed, rough sea - hate life, heave overboard or into bucket, or kneel and pray at the white porcelain altar in the head.

Forecast for Pandemic - Go home, stay at home for the duration.

Murder wasps - Bug spray, loads of bug spray, go below.

Hmmm, have I missed anything????
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Old 26-07-2020, 10:56   #32
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Re: What weather information makes you take action when offshore?

First, getting the most recent forecast models. For me, the only practical solution is IridiumGo with PredictWind Offshore app. (Although personally when close to shore and internet access Windy is my preferred app) I would download the most recent data at least 3-4 times a day.
The basic importance is wind speed and direction, wave height and direction. At certain areas also currents. But look at the predictions outlook and trends for at least the next 48-72 hours as these may change and effect my route in the next 6-24 hours, especially when the different models provided shows different trends.
If you can also ask sailor friends on shore to text you or even pay for a pro marine weather service It should add an extra feed (and eye) on the forecast.
If in doubt - stay in a sheltered place, if you can.
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Old 26-07-2020, 12:54   #33
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Re: What weather information makes you take action when offshore?

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Originally Posted by redneckrob View Post
A much higher percentage of folks sailing just disappeared in the "good old days" everyone is reminiscing about. It's crazy to assert that better situational awareness of weather is anything but a good thing. Can you imagine any professional mariner with that take on seamanship?


I suspect what you are seeing is the realization by many that the quantum improvement promised by advanced technology hasn’t exactly met the hype. I’m in the technology business and have been sailing for 57 years, I find myself asking if we’re better off today. Increased data can be a good thing, but does the additional data actually change things? Is one of the unintended consequences less personal skills, less personal reliance, less personal decision making. Are sailors today relying on others to make judgements, or is the data just an additional tool.

Then there is the comparison between new age, data centric expert prediction vs actual events. Is that gap widening or shrinking? Causes one to pause.
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Old 26-07-2020, 13:36   #34
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Re: What weather information makes you take action when offshore?

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I use the weather to avoid becoming becalmed and to avoid headwinds
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Old 26-07-2020, 18:32   #35
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Re: What weather information makes you take action when offshore?

I have to agree with the sentiment as expressed by mjscottinnc. I've seen a lot of folk spending the big dollars on a high end boat equipped with every modern electronic device and luxury gadget available, yet, they don't go anywhere. Why is that ?? I have my opinion, off course, but I welcome others.
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Old 31-07-2020, 07:28   #36
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Re: What weather information makes you take action when offshore?

I start a passage with a good forecast for the next few days. After that, the wind comes up I reef, if the boat becomes uncomfortable or I am headed in winds above 30knots I heave to.
Yes, it is interesting to see what is coming, but you have to sail with the conditions you are in. Fifty miles away can be completely different.
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Old 31-07-2020, 08:10   #37
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Re: What weather information makes you take action when offshore?

Like most things, it depends on where you want to go, the degree of risk you wish to accept and your budget.

I wrote a post on it here: https://sv-fluenta.blogspot.com/2018...g-weather.html where I describe the thought process we use in Fluenta on our various trips around the Pacific. I do not pretend that this is the only way to do the passage planning but it has worked for us in our 36,000 nm over the last few years from NZ to the Aleutians of Alaska.

Most of the article is on passage planning which if done right drops some of the stress for the passage itself. Once on passage we use an Iridium Go and Predictwind Offshore for twice daily updates and, where it makes sense, we augment that with downloading the weatherfax images from a FTP site and the text forecasts via Saildocs. None of that replaces of course looking out at what is actually happening around the boat - clouds, swells, etc and keeping a close idea on the barograph.
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Old 31-07-2020, 09:04   #38
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Re: What weather information makes you take action when offshore?

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Originally Posted by MicHughV View Post
If you are really concerned you can get a land based weather router, who will analyze daily weather forecasts for you along your route. You will need a SSB or satellite phone, and it will cost you some $$$.

There is such a plethora of weather devices available today, it would be hard to recommend one over the other, but all require that YOU have the ability to interpret what you are seeing.

On a long voyage it all becomes pretty moot as you will just have to learn to deal with whatever is out there.

Forecasts are generally good for 1-3 days, but after that ????
Note Chris Parker has a service to send forecast and answer specific questions to an inReach

In many ways this is similar to the debate about GPS vs Celestial 40 years ago and paper charts vs eCharts 20 years ago. It keeps getting safer and easier and cheaper for landlubbers to become reasonably equipped and competant sailors.

Fred
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Old 31-07-2020, 09:31   #39
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Re: What weather information makes you take action when offshore?

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Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
xslim,
Slug gave you the highlights....so, I'll just ad a few of my personal thoughts (not much more to ad)

--- Most of us have our routines, etc. that work for us...but, they're certainly not absolutes...
These are mine...


I'm a "night person", and I prefer night watches....so, I will nap sometimes while others are up fishing, reading, listening to music, etc...but, I always put my crew and boat first...so, here are just my personal routines...
(and, fyi, in addition being my personal tastes, these are of course USA-centric...)

On a passage (and actually for a few days / a week before departure), in the morning / after breakfast, I like to look at a surface chart, and a 48hr and 72hr forecast chart...and either listen to (USCG SSB Voice broadcasts) or read (from my WeFax machine) the High Seas forecast.....and/or offshore waters forecast, if on day one or two...

Then make my route decisions based on my present weather, my own observations, what ocean currents are available, and the weather charts / synopsis/forecasts in my hands...
I will also look at 96hr forecasts (which have a 120hr positions of Lows, Storms, etc.)...
{note that many times (with benign weather), there are no/few synopses....}

Take note that wefax charts generally cover large areas....half of an ocean...sometimes the whole ocean....and sometimes span multiple MetAreas....
The USCG "Hi-Seas" forecasts are also wide coverage forecasts, covering the whole MetArea...
So, while it does take some knowledge/expertise to determine your weather on a smaller-scale, it's not too hard...

Later on, usually after dinner, I will generally look at an updated chart or two, and listen to the updated evening's Broadcast, as well...




--- If weather patterns are confused, and/or heavy weather is possible, I will also look at a 500mb analysis and more....but, I'm not a professional meteorologist, so I will usually believe the pros...
I just look at these upper air charts to better understand the weather pattern, not to do my own forecasting...



--- If I was in Europe (or Asia), I'd have a dedicated NAVTEX receiver as well...and if heading across the Pacific, I'd probably ad INMARSAT-C for the SafetyNET text forecasts....(fyi, I can of course receive NAVTEX now, but I do not)....
Due to my dyslexia, I find the weather charts and the voice broadcasts to be much easier for me....




--- Again, these are just my personal routines....others wake up at sunrise and spend hours looking at emails, etc., and worrying about things....
I just assume I will deal with what weather is out there, but I try to find the more favorable conditions....



fair winds.

John
John-
Can you detail your WeFax system? Can you suggest an inexpensive solution that doesn't involve SSB?
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Old 31-07-2020, 09:32   #40
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Re: What weather information makes you take action when offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
xslim,
Slug gave you the highlights....so, I'll just ad a few of my personal thoughts (not much more to ad)

--- Most of us have our routines, etc. that work for us...but, they're certainly not absolutes...
These are mine...


I'm a "night person", and I prefer night watches....so, I will nap sometimes while others are up fishing, reading, listening to music, etc...but, I always put my crew and boat first...so, here are just my personal routines...
(and, fyi, in addition being my personal tastes, these are of course USA-centric...)

On a passage (and actually for a few days / a week before departure), in the morning / after breakfast, I like to look at a surface chart, and a 48hr and 72hr forecast chart...and either listen to (USCG SSB Voice broadcasts) or read (from my WeFax machine) the High Seas forecast.....and/or offshore waters forecast, if on day one or two...

Then make my route decisions based on my present weather, my own observations, what ocean currents are available, and the weather charts / synopsis/forecasts in my hands...
I will also look at 96hr forecasts (which have a 120hr positions of Lows, Storms, etc.)...
{note that many times (with benign weather), there are no/few synopses....}

Take note that wefax charts generally cover large areas....half of an ocean...sometimes the whole ocean....and sometimes span multiple MetAreas....
The USCG "Hi-Seas" forecasts are also wide coverage forecasts, covering the whole MetArea...
So, while it does take some knowledge/expertise to determine your weather on a smaller-scale, it's not too hard...

Later on, usually after dinner, I will generally look at an updated chart or two, and listen to the updated evening's Broadcast, as well...




--- If weather patterns are confused, and/or heavy weather is possible, I will also look at a 500mb analysis and more....but, I'm not a professional meteorologist, so I will usually believe the pros...
I just look at these upper air charts to better understand the weather pattern, not to do my own forecasting...



--- If I was in Europe (or Asia), I'd have a dedicated NAVTEX receiver as well...and if heading across the Pacific, I'd probably ad INMARSAT-C for the SafetyNET text forecasts....(fyi, I can of course receive NAVTEX now, but I do not)....
Due to my dyslexia, I find the weather charts and the voice broadcasts to be much easier for me....




--- Again, these are just my personal routines....others wake up at sunrise and spend hours looking at emails, etc., and worrying about things....
I just assume I will deal with what weather is out there, but I try to find the more favorable conditions....



fair winds.

John
John-
Can you detail your WeFax system? Can you suggest an inexpensive solution that doesn't involve SSB?

Fred
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Old 31-07-2020, 09:50   #41
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Re: What weather information makes you take action when offshore?

First - study the weather before you leave.....and make sure you are in the right place at the right time to avoid seasonally bad weather. Then, depending on the passage, I use inReach or Iridium Go (with PredictWind). For a long passage, I have used the assistance of a weather router. The big advantage being they can look at the "big picture" which may change once you are several days into a passage.

Finally never underestimate the intuition of your wife. If she says "shouldn't we reef?" Even if the sky is blue - she's usually right!
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Old 31-07-2020, 11:41   #42
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Re: What weather information makes you take action when offshore?

What’s important for information changes as you travel around the world.
- across the pacific, and the bulk of the Atlantic, large scale offshore gribs give you enough info to dodge the really bad stuff, and ride the better
- in the Carribbean, you have to go to the highest resolution possible in order to see land effects....which disappear if you are looking at offshore gribs
- and in current dominant places....like rounding Africa.....you must must must have current data (which doesn’t change that fast, so can use internet resources if you’re harbour hopping)

An IridiumGO and Predictwind kept me out of trouble, worked everywhere. You have to use whatever system you settle on in order to understand what it is telling you.
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Old 31-07-2020, 13:12   #43
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Re: What weather information makes you take action when offshore?

To me, once well offshore, in this specific order:


1) RT data (clouds, sky colors, wind dir and force, swell, etc.),


With RT data I am looking mostly for CHANGES. It takes plenty of time to get into this but eventually you do, and the sea 'will talk to you'. Sounds poetic - but in fact this is something behaviouristic, something natural, you just need some time to 'tune in'.


I generally check, but disregard, the baro, too



2) if available - radiofax, surface situation,


This is like having a god's plan in hand. Like seeing the big picture. Helps you interpret the locally observed details.


3) if available - grib,


This helps me make better gybing and tacking choices well timed with the changes and helping me direct the boat towards the areas where the weather will be optimal for our passage 'TOMORROW'.


I also like to listen to the voice at times. I like the tropical weather discussion from NOAA - esp. while we are sailing back to Europe.



I used InReach weather service too and it was marginally fine and detracting. Possibly with a more expensive plan it is better, but I only had the basic plan.


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Old 01-08-2020, 09:04   #44
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Re: What weather information makes you take action when offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by xslim View Post
Hi guys!
So there are lot of ways how to get weather offshore: SSB, Weatherfax, Iridium GO, InReach (my current solution).
But what do you do with the weather information when you are offshore?
What information is the most important for you when you are out there and what actions are you taking with it?
#1 – What can hurt me?

#2 – How do I make the fastest passage?

Bad weather is biggest concern and big cyclonic weather the biggest of those. You listed a number of sources of weather which is incomplete. I’ve used all of those you listed. There is simply no substitute for synoptic charts (weather fax or satellite with deep pockets). Synoptics give you the big picture with tactical detail. You have to know what you’re looking at. I’ve been stuck with gribs and you can manage but you need to know even more to make up for the deficiencies. Spot data such as you get from InReach is worse. GO! makes getting gribs (bah!) from a portable device to a computer without either a lot of transfers or paying yet more for a service like PredictWind. Synoptics are the big boy tool. PredictWind and its like are just bad information made easier.

Missing from your list are radar and looking out the window. Radar and a plotting board (I just use paper and a pencil) can allow you to dodge scattered thunderstorm cells and thereby avoid gusty winds and getting wet. Looking out the window is your best source of real-world tactical information. Often you can see a cold front approaching and can predict wind shifts and choose tacking points accordingly.

As others including John have pointed out tropical weather and other cyclonic events are a big deal. If you pay attention (weather fax really helps here) you’ll have lots of notice and can stay out of the way and make strategic decisions. You don’t have to be mid-ocean for this to be important.

Dave story: I was in Martinique on a delivery to Chesapeake Bay. A tropical wave started to show signs of development. Tracks looked unfortunate. As locals hunkered down (you can’t get an island out of the way) and cruisers followed suit, my read from synoptic charts and spaghetti models (for which you need Internet) was to get out of dodge. Worst case we had four days to the leading edge of the storm. I picked a route west of what I would otherwise and got on the phone to yards on St Thomas. Underway we watched the tracks and ended up bypassing St Thomas and continuing as the storm stayed South. Had it not, we had a plan. In the meantime we were closer to where we wanted to be, had better flight connections, less language issues (my French is quite rudimentary), and better infrastructure.

All that said, and with the highest regard for self-sufficiency, I’m a big fan of having a network of contacts who care about me at least to some extent and have the skills to provide credible advice. Big advantage to having broadband Internet.

This goes directly to John’s discussion of “discussion” and “synopsis.” You can get this from HF voice or from a friend reading off the Internet. You can get it off Navtex or RTTY. You can subscribe to it from many weather services including NOAA/NWS/OPC.

Second priority is to get where I want to be as fast and comfortably as possible. I want to know where the fronts are. I want to know where the developing systems are. I want to know where the ocean currents and eddies are. I’m certainly not going to chase around the ocean looking for them but if I can plan well and catch a boost or avoid foul current I surely will.

Others including some I respect such as Ann and Jim have mentioned tides and currents and I agree. Tactics for issues such as crossing a bar or a shoal are important. By the time you get to that point you can generally loiter. Never give up your schedule reserve prematurely. If your calculations say three days out that you should slow down you bear that in mind and press on. A day out or less if you have four hours to burn you slow down a bit but keep some reserve. Half a day out you may slow down yet more. Don’t slow down too early or you may find yourself with a tidal cycle to burn. Same with inlets that must only be passed in good light. I’d much rather arrive early and heave to than be held up and be forced to decide between running the inlet in fading light or waiting through the night. Guess which I think is the better idea? *grin*

Professional weather routers are NOT an excuse for not knowing what you are looking at. You cannot abrogate your responsibility for the safe leadership of your boat.

John mentioned 500 mb charts. I look at these partly as a data quality check for the surface forecasts but also to consider what else might happen. The forecast is the best professional estimate, but what are the error probabilities. See Reed’s Maritime Meteorology. Good bedtime reading.

MicHughV makes a good point that we have much better weather information than in the past and certainly people sailed without what we have now. That does not excuse not taking advantage of what progress has offered us for safety and comfort. There is no substitute for knowledge (different from information). Spend the time to learn what you are looking at. Don’t be one of the ducklings in an anchorage that heads out because someone else decides it’s time to go.

Another Dave story:
Crusty sailor dude: “You aren’t leaving in these conditions are you?”
DAVE: “Yep.”
CSD: “You’re going to die.”
DAVE: “Nope. Do it all the time.”
CSD: “Can I follow you?”
DAVE: “If you can keep up.”
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Old 01-08-2020, 10:37   #45
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Re: What weather information makes you take action when offshore?

and then you get the " herd" instinct.....have been in a few anchorages, where the weather was discussed..and discussed...and discussed...and finally I thought....enuff is enuff...and started making preparations to leave....the other yachties noticed this....and started clearing their decks as well....and as I was leaving...noticed a whole caravan of boats behind me...they seemed to figure..." he must know something we don't"....but I didn't.....I just wasn't rooted in fear that a big bad wave might climb aboard and splash me....
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