Monday, February 22, 2016

Getting the FAX! Weather fax that is...

We're planning our trip to the Bahamas in late spring/early winter. The boat is pretty much ready all except a few rigging checks/repairs as needed.

I'm really interested in understanding the weather options: How to get weather reports and how to include them in our cruising plans. Here in the USA we can get weather reports on the boat via the VHF Radio, Locally on our Phones & Tablets.

So far I have got the radio that can receive the weather faxes, it's a Tecsun PL-880 that has an SSB receiver and is a pretty cool radio. I also ordered a long HF antenna wire, but it has not arrived yet, should be here any day now.

Also got the HF Weather FAX app for my Android Tablet. But so far we have been too close to shore in order to get the signal to noise ration on the SSB down to where we can actually get the weather fax audio which will be the input for the Tablet.

Meanwhile, I'm studying weather lessons on the web and have a bunch of resources.

Weather Surface Charts from NOAA

Legend of Weather Chart Icons

NOAA Weather Symbols & Test Chart

Jeff Haby's online Weather Course

And the list keep growing.

Right now I'm working my way to understanding the weather faxes (weather surface charts from NOAA above) by reviewing all of the charts available on a daily basis. I feel that I'm getting reasonable at interpreting them, I forecast the storm that hit the cruise ship out of New Jersey last week with really high winds and waves. - Not my work, but at least I was able to tell myself that I did not want to be in that area ahead of the reports.

Of course, we'll have cell phone coverage for much of the time we're in the Bahamas, so we should be able to get SailFlow.com data and receive the weather faxes from NOAA from the link above. But I feel that learning to read the charts ahead and make a more informed expectation of the upcoming weather will only be a benefit. Plus, with all the spare time we'll have aboard during our trip, what else am I going to do?

See you on the Water.

Paul