Weather routers/forecasting services


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zgriswold
zgriswold
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I'd love to get thoughts on good (or not) passage weather routers. We always do our own weather analysis and get daily gribs while underway. On occasion, we have also sought information from professional forecasting services, with varying results - Commanders Weather for the Gulf Stream and Chris Parker's Marine Weather Center in the Caribbean and U.S. East Coast, and Bob McDavitt in New Zealand. Please share any suggestions for these or other regions. Thanks! - Zdenka/Kite
Simon Currin
Simon Currin
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Zdenka,

We used Commanders Weather last year for the Davis Strait and we were a little underwhelmed by them. I do appreciate that that might be heresy!

We found PredictWind works for us and we only dial up a professional router to confirm our plans once we are pretty certain about what we are doing. It is great though to have them available as a second pair of eyes. I’m not totally sure that all the forecasters on their rota grasped the interface between ice chart and weather as once or twice we did get some odd advice. Obviously that would be irrelevant in more temperate latitudes.

Simon
Dick
Dick
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Simon Currin - 7/7/2019
Zdenka,We used Commanders Weather last year for the Davis Strait and we were a little underwhelmed by them. I do appreciate that that might be heresy! We found PredictWind works for us and we only dial up a professional router to confirm our plans once we are pretty certain about what we are doing. It is great though to have them available as a second pair of eyes. I’m not totally sure that all the forecasters on their rota grasped the interface between ice chart and weather as once or twice we did get some odd advice. Obviously that would be irrelevant in more temperate latitudes.Simon

Hi Zdenka,
We have done our miles for the most part doing our own wx forecasting. That said:
When Herb was doing his routing in the North Atlantic, we found his help very valuable.
Chris Parker is an acquaintance from back before and we are very impressed with what he has put together and the quality of his work. We used his email service for when we were in Central America and needed a few days warning to get to a bolt hole for the occasional northers that would come screaming down from the US. We consider his work very helpful.
And when we were in the challenging waters of Iceland/Greenland and into Canada and we used Commander’s Weather. We found them quite nice companions and re-assuring as we were doing our own forecasting, but appreciated when CW suggested the same forecast. They were particularly good at looking at potential challenging wx that was still 3-5 days away: a low in mid North America which all forecasts predicted would be S of our track (preferred), but not far S and the steering currents could bring it on us or N.
It was discussions like this that gave us a bit greater confidence in these unfamiliar waters. CW was also responsive to individual questions: How many icebergs were reported in the various quadrants off Newfoundland/Labrador for ex.
Bottom line for Alchemy: when Herb was available, we always kept in touch with him. With Chris, in the Bahamas and Carib, I would always pay for a subscription, in part because I think he provides a valuable service and I want support it. And his work was always helpful.
For CW, I would likely hire them again for tricky or unfamiliar forecasting areas. My research does not indicate there is a better router wx forecaster, although there are a number: all seem to be moderately well thought of, but I found none that stood out.
Always, I would not sail into waters where I felt my forecasting skills necessitated an outside router, but I might easily welcome a back-up.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy, sharing a wharf with Shimshal, Simon & Sally, in Burgeo, Newfoundland, CA

james.fiske
james.fiske
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I too have used Commanders weather going back 15 or so years, I've had mixed results with them and at times have been a bit disillusioned with their advice. It didn't seem to be any better informed than what i could get on windyty (once I had the luxury of fast internet ).
15 years ago Commanders were spot on with our Indian ocean crossing, maybe they have slipped since then?
I used WRIWX on my Atlantic crossing before last, we were inundated with charts and data and had the pick of advice but it was data heavy. Their routing advice was very good.
There is a difference I suppose between weather forecasting and weather routing advice.
On my last Atlantic crossing we used MailASail and their 'free' grib file service. I displayed it on a free predict wind program and came to my own conclusions. It was far better than the ARC forecast that we were sent! I cant remember who issued the ARC official forecast but we were all very unimpressed. 
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