weather

Offshore Communications: Satellite or SSB?

18 May

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Cruisers anchored off a small beach in the Exumas dinghy in for cocktails and chat while the sun sinks behind a distant cay. Most evenings in this idyllic spot new cruisers and old salts alike meet over plans to go fishing in the sound, the best time to avoid day-trippers in the Thunderball grotto, when the mail/grocery ship is due in this week, or just talk story.

Decaying government dock, Staniel Cay

Decaying government dock, Staniel Cay

We picked this location for the kids and I to hang out while Jamie was away based on the trifecta of people, provisions, and connectivity. Well, theoretical connectivity. ...

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SkyMate Mazu/mSeries all-in-one Iridium sat comms & Si-Tex NavStar Android MFD

26 Mar

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 26, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

SkyMate_Mazu_and_mSeries_intro_MIBS2017_cPanbo.jpgIt was good to see SkyMate return to the Miami Boat Show after years focused on commercial fishing, and the company clearly has not lost its touch at squeezing lots of easy utility out of skinny-band satellite communications. Its new Mazu/mSeries marine system promises surprisingly full-featured weather and email using Iridium’s least expensive service, plus texting, SOS, navigation and (optional) off-boat monitoring. And, just around the corner in the Si-Tex booth, I saw a very interesting Android-based touchscreen NavStar MFD nicely interfacing with SkyMate’s existing communications ...

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Navico Hawks 2017: “Full boat integration into one display cluster”

27 Feb

Written by Ben Ellison on Feb 27, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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The Miami Boat Show was loaded with marine electronics news, but first let’s visit the Navico writers event held at Hawks Cay, Florida, earlier this month. Deeper still – Mercury engine integration, B&G Zeus PredictWind weather routing, the Halo radar VelocityTrack Doppler upgrade, Navionics SonarChart Live everywhere, Simrad’s new 3kW 3-channel S5100 super sonar, and Lowrance Carbon (Gen3) MFDs are some of the goodies that were demonstrated and/or discussed. But I was especially taken with CEO Leif Ottosson’s opening “big picture” presentation and think it’s valuable ...

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If you want to sail away, free FastSeas weather routing can help

9 Nov

Written by Ben Ellison on Nov 9, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

FastSeas_calculating_fast_getaway_to_Bermuda_cPanbo.jpg

If you’re looking for a real getaway this morning, or even just an online distraction, FastSeas.com can help. It’s also a testament to how much goodness a smart boater/coder can create for his or her fellow mariners these days. And while FastSeas is primarily an online weather routing service for sailors embarking on ocean passages, it’s easy and flexible enough that even a coastal power cruiser can benefit…

FastSeas_routing_includes_ocean_currents_cPanbo.jpgYou could say that FastSeas.com is just a website, but in fact when you click that Calculate Route ...

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WRI Weather Outlook, Lunenburg-Newfoundland

11 Jul

To: Captain, Isbjorn
Prepared: July 11 15:30z
FM: WEATHER ROUTING INC. (WRI)

Synopsis:  A gale centered southeast of Nova Scotia near 43N/57W this morning
will move NE’ward to north of Newfoundland through tomorrow, then move E’ward.
An area of high pressure will move offshore of New Jersey tomorrow morning and
will move SE’ward toward Bermuda through the 13th.

A broad low will be centered over NW’rn Quebec by the morning of the 14th and
will move E’ward offshore Labrador along 55N through the 16th. Associated
strong cyclonic circulation will cover waters from the Gulf of St Lawrence
south to along ...

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Weather Forecast for Lunenburg Departure

1 Jul

The Leg 6 crew has arrived and we’re about 18 hours from departure! It’s thunderstorming in Annapolis right now, so it’s nice to be at the dock, but the weather offshore looks like we’ll get a mix of everything. Here’s the latest from our partners at WRI, below.

Like what you see? Contact WRI to get customized forecasts for your own trips!


To: Captain, Isbjorn
Prepared: July 01 21:31z
FM: WEATHER ROUTING INC. (WRI)

Synopsis: Low pressure over sw’rn Quebec with a cold front from the w’rn Gulf
of Maine sw’ward to ne’rn North Carolina tomorrow morning will move ...

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DeLorme inReach gets weather & goes to Cuba

21 Jun

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 21, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

DeLorme_inReach_weather_feature_cPanbo.jpgI’ve long felt that the DeLorme inReach is a valuable safety and communications tool for boats that sometimes go beyond reliable cellular (and/or VHF) contact with friends, families and rescue centers. But one gripe for skippers hoping to use an inReach as their only offshore communications device was the lack of weather forecasting. There were some necessarily crude third party solutions, but now DeLorme itself is offering easy-to-use and understand forecasts, both marine and terrestrial. I’ve just been testing this and many other inReach features in ...

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Waiting On The Weather

20 Jun

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Every boat and crew has different thresholds for what they are willing to put up with. In my limited experience using GRIB files to plan voyages, I hope for the predicted winds and hedge against higher than predicted winds and seas. Even though I’m positive our boat can take just about anything, we voyage for the enjoyment of sailing. We don’t have to be anywhere at anytime. Its just not as fun to deal with 30kts and a large sea, we’ve done it – but I’d rather sit in port and drink cheap Panamanian beer. It’s important that I keep ...

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Passage notes: Bermuda to Connecticut

17 Jun

1 sunset at sea“This is turning into an expensive passage.” Those were Jamie’s words to me after the latest breakdown on our third day at sea. A large block, used for the genoa sheet, had permanently parted ways with the track on deck.

The passage started benignly enough, once we got going. Although the weather watch to depart began the day we arrived in Bermuda, there were people to see and boat parts to fix, and a week felt sufficient. Plenty of time all around, really: there were three weeks before we needed to be in  Connecticut and our passage time, in good ...

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Passage notes: St Martin to Bermuda

2 Jun

1 Sailing into the sunset

DSC_7708Only one more passage separates Totem from landfall in the USA. The proximity is palpable, and conversation about what it’s going to be like has dominated dinner table conversations. The comfortable passage north from St Martin to Bermuda fostered cockpit discussion and navel-gazing under the stars, too. Here’s how it went.

Passage metrics

  • Distance: 872 nautical miles
  • Duration: 5 days 4 hours
  • Seas: 1-2 meters
  • Typical breeze: 15-25 kts true
  • Max wind speed: 35 knots (squall)
  • Number of times reefed/unreefed: lost count
  • Diesel burned: 6 gallons (at least one of those was because we wanted warm showers, and another was
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