There’s no escaping it…technology has become an integral part of our society. It keeps us in the know and allows us to plan ahead – not to mention the added conveniences to our everyday lives. The yachting industry is no exception. New technological weather services hit the market daily, each claiming to be better than the next when relaying weather-related data to yachts.
There is no doubt that these new services are beneficial. Online weather services provide a cost effective way to receive weather data – some services are free of charge. Further, online services usually offer a wide array of very detailed data that spans the globe and is but a mouse click away.
Metworks LTD is a marine weather service specifically designed for yachts sailing in coastal waters as well as forecasts for crossings and deliveries. They provide recommendations for changes in speed or routes, the latest, fully-detailed Synoptic Situation for the area the yacht is in, wind speed and direction, sea heights and well conditions and details on tropical cyclones, ice limits and many other features. Their website provides online forecasts. http://www.metworksltd.com/onlineforecasts/of_ba_frameset.htm
Other companies offer weather information, warnings/advisories, that can be sent to iPhones or Blackberrys, for example. As the PDA becomes a more important part of everyday life, companies are creating PDA applications. The Boating Weather App (www.boatingweatherapp.com) works on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. For $2.99 you can download the app and will receive this one-touch marine forecast application. Data is collected from the National Weather Service and provides information for the coming week’s weather. It shows wave height, wind speed and small craft advisories, to name a few. Also, the app allows you to save locations.
But before finding alternatives that best suit you, be wary of what you are getting into. Forecasts provided by some services are computer generated and do not take into account the local weather “quirks” or “nuances” that can make forecasting in a particular area interesting at times. Further, while some services only require the use of a username and password, others require equipment that must be purchased and installed, meaning a less cost effective weather solution.
While new online services are not only practical, but also quick and easy, they cannot take the place of trained meteorologists who constantly monitor the weather, advise at a moment’s notice and recommend the proper precautions. Meteorologists even can offer the best “go” and “delay” recommendations to find the best weather window for travel, as well as optimum routes.
Some companies provide the best of both worlds. Weather Routing, Inc has meteorologists in all parts of the world who provide detailed information to yachts. They also have an online weather service, SeaWeather (http://www.seaweather.net), which provides weather information in both graphical and text format and includes regional data. It is a supplement to their regular routing and forecast services.
Technology will continue to change and improve. It is important to integrate these new weather technologies and services into your weather planning as a supplement to the tried and true meteorology of yesteryear. Do your research and seek out the best and most practical technologies for you and your crew in order to keep those weather eyes open.
David Cannon is a Yacht Operations Manager and Senior Meteorologist at Weather Routing Incorporated, which has provided weather forecasts and consultation to mariners since 1961.Contact Weather Routing Inc. at 1-518-798-1110; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.wriwx.com; www.seaweather.net