Friday, March 10, 2017

Weather Info and were to get it. 2008

Weather and where to get it;

Many yachts with HF radio have a modem attached so that they can receive short emails and weather at sea. Unfortunately we could not purchase a modem anywhere without weeks of waiting so we relied on weather info gathered whilst in port or in few cases relied on our mate Rick in Oz who we contacted via satellite phone to give us a weather report.

Naturally the best is to have the modem pack with the HF radio and order your weather through Sailmail. However, many yachties know that even if you have the information at hand when you are out there, there is not much you can do about the weather if it turns bad. I know that when we were crossing the Columbian Basin and needed weather information to make a quick decision on a change of course I would not have been able to get that through the HF radio system as you have to order your weather report and that would not arrive until the next morning. I phoned Rick and got it within the hour and we were able to cut 50 nms off the passage.

One of the better ways is to get the weather that is broadcasted on the HF radio by a regular network or by another yacht that is remaining in a port whilst you are on passage and they keep a radio sched with you and give you the weather.

The other way is go outside and look at the sky regularly, learn the signs.

There are some good long forecasting sites on the internet for the Pacific one of the best is Metvuw from NZ. They have a good website and have 3 and 7 day surface charts.

Another good website if you have someone in a port that can obtain the information for you is buoyweather, this site one can select the customize button find the Lat/Long of the yacht and it will give the weather at that position for the next 24 hours, it gives wind speed and direction, wave height and direction and time intervals of the waves.

If you are waiting somewhere for the cyclone season to finish and you are trying to work out if there is anything happening there are two good sites. One is the Cyclone and Storm tracking and the other is the Madden Julian Oscillation Index.

I learnt more about the MJO waiting for this cyclone season to finish and the mongrel caught me out, we thought it was over it reached its eighth phase and was not measurable. We thought that’s it, but the mongrel got going again after we set sail and that is part of what we copped between Tonga and Fiji, it started a cyclone north of Vanuatu and created the convergence zone through Fiji and Tonga.
What is the MJO you may ask, the Madden Julian Oscillation is the low pressure systems that start off of South Africa and move eastwards across the top of Australia and through the Pacific to Southern America. It has eight phases. Phase 3 is just NW of Western Australia, Phase 6 is NE of Australia near New Caledonia these low pressure systems create the rain and cyclones in that part of the world.

There are many helpful websites and probably a lot more than I have found, the following is a list of what I have found or been given, they will help you plan you passages. Wait for the best weather window before setting off with careful planning the passage can be pleasant. But unfortunately sometimes the planning falls down because Mother Nature gets a little smarter than the weather forecasters and we get squalls and storms develop after leaving, but that does not happen all the time.

The list of websites for weather information;

Other weather information can be received on HF Radio on the following frequencies:

Frequencies:         13550.5                 Weather Pacific Wellington NZ (ZKLF) (1100 & 2300 UTC)
                                16340    Weather Pacific   (Analysis 1000 & 2200 UTC)
                        5100       Weather Pacific/QLD         Charliville (0015, 1215 UTC 2 parts)
                                11030    Weather Pacific/QLD         Charliville (0015, 1215 UTC 2 parts)
                                13920    Weather Pacific/QLD         Charliville (0015, 1215 UTC 2 parts)
                                20469    Weather Pacific/QLD         Charliville (0015, 1215 UTC 2 parts)
                                14315    Weather Pacific                   Tony’s Net 2100 UTC (Change to 14302.5)
                                14302.5 Weather Pacific                   at 2130 UTC John VK9JA Norfolk
                                8107       Pacific weather                    Panama – Galapagos Panama Cruiser Net
                                12365    Pacific Weather                   Marquesas- Coconut Breakfast Cruiser Net
                                6115       Weather                                 Russell Radio 1900 UTC
                                13137    Weather                                 Ritchie 2000-2100, 0400-0445 UTC
                                4445       Weather                                 Des 1930-2000, 0700-0800 NZ Time
                                14313    Weather                                 Fred KH6UY 0400 UTC
2201      Weather                                 Townsville 0003, 1203 UTC Qld waters
                                                                0603,2003 UTC
4426       Weather                                 As above Townsville
6507       Weather                                 As above Townsville          
8176       Weather                                 As above Townsville
12365    Weather                                 As above Townsville
                                8173       Weather                                 Jim, Rag of the air Fiji   1920 UTC
                                4030       Weather                                 Curly, Fiji 2000 UTC

When in any port there is often a local cruisers network on VHF radio, this can be on any channel so ask around when you arrive. They are usually run around 0800 to 0830 hours local time and they usually have a weather section along with other information. Many places will give you some warning that the net is about to start on CH16 and allocate the frequency that it will be held. The only port we have not heard a net was Rarotonga and I think that is because we were the only yacht in the harbour. We were the second yacht to visit for the season.

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