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
- Météo France Navimail 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.
Some of these services are described briefly here.
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 that you want. These can be taken from my GMDSS pages by right clicking on a named link from the frame 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 the 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.;
Météo France Navimail Text service
Since Metéo France blocked access to its texts by SailDocs, this is the only way to get their forecasts by email. For details see my Navimail page. It is much less user-friendly than Saildocs and more restrictive in what it can provide.
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 us
works on laptops. Notes on itsuse can be found on my GRIB pages, zyGrib .
There are other services available on repayment but these, zyGrib particularly will meet most cruising sailors’ needs.
There are several similar packages that work on Tablets . Notes are in 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. There are other GRIB services, some on repayment but have little if any advantage over these two.
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.