About this page
Details of some of the sources of marine weather forecasts obtainable via compressed emails and FTP.
Email or File Transfer Protocol (FTP) are cost effective ways of getting information while away on the boat. They do not require broad band Internet access and avoid using web browsers with annoyingly irrelevant pictures, adverts and ornamental features.
They can be used with low bandwidth when marina WiFi is slow or you are using a satellite phone. They can be used with GPRS over a cell phone.. Email is the only Internet facility for Blue water sailors using HF/SSB with a modem.
Some very basic notes on HF and HAM radio are at my page Internet and Email Connections.
On this page -
- File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
- Saildocs Text service
- MailASail Text, Chart and GRIB Service
- GRIB Files
File Transfer Protocol
Basically, FTP extracts digital or image data from service providers and translates them into a compressed digital form. These data can be transferred directly from computer to computer without using a browser. Often easier for sailors is to get the FTP data as email attachments.
The US NWS has an FTPMail service. Although simple to use, the volume of instructions and introductory material is daunting. Other services build on this in a rather more user friendly manner.
Saildocs Texts of Web pages
Saildocs] is a free-to-all text retrieval service provided by SailMail. To use, send an email to
Subject - anything.
The message should read
Simply copy the address of a web page containing the forecast or page text that you want. These can be taken from one of my Internet pages e.g. NW Europe and copying the address..
As an example, a message saying
will provide all the text for the UK Inshore waters forecast.
Within a minute or so the reply email will contain all the text of the web page stripped of all the extraneous information. Met Office pages are commendably small downloads, but the text on most Webpages can be received as an attachment less than 4 kb.;
Several pages can be requested at a time. This will work with many Webpages, not just marine weather forecasts.
MailASail GRIB, Text and Chart Responder
The MailASail Weather Responder service has three components.
- Texts of forecasts from a pre-selected list.
- Synoptic charts on a highly compressed form, again from a pre-selected list. A readable synoptic chart can be received in a 25 b file
- GRIB files. See below.
GRIB files can be obtained from many sources using FTP or email.
An excellent free-to-all service is
This works on laptops under Windws, MacOSX and Linux. Notes on its use can be found on my GRIB pages, zyGrib
There are other services available on repayment but zyGrib will meet most cruising sailors’ needs.
There are several similar packages that work on Tablets see my GRIB Apps page.
Two well known email GRIB services are
This is the most flexible to use.
This is easier to use nut has fewer options.
For descriptions of GRIB and details of how to access these services go to my GRIB page.
'The Yachtcom site has much good advice on marine radio for those using HF radio to receive emails.