The news that Maria has strengthened from category 1 to category 5 hit like a gut punch. Learning this update at dinner last night stopped all conversation, then brought on questions: how does this happen in only half a day? Has it ever? Dreaded already for the track this storm is forecast to trace near Irma’s fresh path, prospects for Maria’s impact now feel unbearably worse.
While we waited for news of Irma from a safe perch in St Lucia I summarized the tools for hurricane season weather forecasts that we use most on Totem. Not two weeks later it’s ... Read More
Totem and crew are in Grenada. Time and mobility were our key advantages to get safely far from the devastating path of Irma when others could not. When Irma made landfall at Barbuda, we were secure in St Lucia. Clouds streamed from the west at sunset, sucked in the “wrong” direction by Irma. We watched the system’s arrival via glowing laptop screens, as Jamie stayed up half the night glued to live data from weather stations until they succumbed – then followed as best we could in the aftermath, waiting anxiously for news from the friends squarely in Irma’s track.... Read More
Figuring out the names of Caribbean islands was as daunting as learning island groups of the South Pacific. First, there’s a whole lot of them! And then, where does one country end and the next begin? And could I please have a Venn diagram that shows regions and island groups and countries? At least most Caribbean place names have intuitive pronunciation for English speakers (first guesses at cruiser destinations like Kiribati, Papeete, Whangarei, Nadi, Pago Pago, etc. are usually not correct). Cruiser cred points for anyone who can correctly spell these phonetically in the comments!
Quick geography tangent: Antilles ... Read More
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
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. ... Read More
Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 26, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
It 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 ... Read More
Written by Ben Ellison on Feb 27, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
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 ... Read More
Written by Ben Ellison on Nov 9, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
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…
You could say that FastSeas.com is just a website, but in fact when you click that Calculate Route ... Read More
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 Read More
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 ...
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 Read More
of Maine sw’ward to ne’rn North Carolina tomorrow morning will move ...
Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 21, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
I’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 ... Read More