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Notes on weather forecasts to help those on Atlantic crossings whether going solo, on events such as those organised by the RAFSC or on the ARC.


Related pages

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Clearly, what you are able to get will depend largely on the equipment carried. Long distance bluw water sailors that I know carry SSB radio (as both marine and radio amateur operators), Iridium phone, NAVTEX and INMARSAT.


GMDSS -INMARSAT and NAVTEX

The definitive Marine Safety Information services are via INMARSAT SafetyNET and NAVTEX. For this purpose, the UK, France and the USA are responsible for NAVAREAS I, II and IV respectively.

METAREAS (aka NAVAREAS) - Worldwide (except for Polar regions)

METAREAS/NAVAREAS

UK - Area I, France - Area II, USA - Area IV

World-wide NAVTEX schedules can be found in detail at William Hepburn's site.

Areas used in the forecasts and schedules can be found in ALRS. Details of French area are also in their guide marine de Météo France, available at French marinas and online. UK High Seas areas are on another page of this site. Very comprehensive information on the INMARSAT-C will be found on the site for US NWS INMARSAT products.

For the latest texts of Atlantic (and other areas) INMARSAT and NAVTEX texts, use links on the GMDSS page of this site. NAVTEX coverage is good from Lagos to the Canaries. The Azores station is reputedly a strong signal

with a range of about 500 miles. Areas used by Spanish stations can be found (with difficulty) at the Spanish Met service site and, more easily, on my page on Sea areas..

Details of US East coast NAVTEX station names and schedules can be found at the USCG Navigation Center site with some rather poor chartlets showing the location of US NAVTEX stations and


HF Radio

Without INMARAT, it is possible to receive texts for NAVAREA II, once a day at 0930 UTC from Monaco Radio. Frequencies : 8 806 kHz, 13 152 kHz, 17 323 kHz, 22 768 kHz. all USB. Broadcasts are in slow and very clear French followed by English. For current texts go to the JCOMM page. Perhaps more useful will be Radio France Internationale which broadcast once a day at 1130 UTC, on 15 300 kHz, 15 515 kHz, 17 570 kHz and 21 645 kHz (not SSB). The area is the NE Atlantic and the tropical N . For areas see le guide marine de Météo France. For the latest texts of the SafetyNET/Monaco Radio or the Radio France Internationale texts, go to the RFI Forecast or the Météo-France Menu page , choose Grand Large. There are, also, some charts available here. Or use the links at my GMDSS page.

It is worthwhile studying some texts before departure in order to get used to the form and format of the broadcasts. The French is always very clear and slow enough, even for non French speakers. A list of many of the terms used can be found at the Weather Terminology used in Broadcasts by CROSS.

Spanish stations - see the Spanish Met service site. There are broadcasts also from Portuguese stations at Porto Santo and Horta (Azores) - see ALRS.

Around Cuba and the Bahamas there are MF and HF broadcasts - see ALRS.

HF Radiotelephone. Weather forecasts and warnings are broadcast over scheduled HF radiotelephone channels from US Coast Guard Communication Stations.

Most USCG Groups in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico Coasts use Medium Frequency Radiotelephone. to broadcast urgent marine information. Broadcasts are made over the single sideband frequency 2670 kHz, after first being announced on the distress, safety and calling frequency 2182 kHz. Stations likely to be useful are shown below.

US MF Stations

USCG Group

Time (UTC)

Cape Hatteras NC

0133, 1303

Fort Macon NC

0103, 1233

Eastern Shore VA

0233, 1403

Hampton Roads VA

0203, 1333

Atlantic City NJ


HF Radiofacsimile and RTTY/SITOR

Weather charts are broadcast by many nations. On our side of the Atlantic there are Northwood and the DWD For the western side see the US Radiofax schedules.

Radio teletype broadcasts are available for the Eastern Atlantic down to the Canary Islands from the DWD. Large parts of the Atlantic (and Pacific) are covered by USCG SImplex Telex Over Radio. The U.S. Coast Guard broadcasts National Weather Service high seas forecasts and storm

warnings from four high seas communication stations using SITOR. These broadcasts are prepared co-operatively by the Marine Prediction Center, Tropical Prediction Center and Honolulu Forecast Office. Offshore and coastal forecasts are available in areas such as Alaska. The International Ice Patrol also broadcasts from Boston sharing the same transmitters.. Transmission range is dependent upon operating frequency, time of day and atmospheric conditions and can vary from only short distances to several thousand miles.


MRCC/MRSC VHF

Comprehensive VHF broadcasts from Spanish stations are available giving forecasts as far as 20 deg S. Schedules and channels are to be found on my marine VHF page. For information on US Stations broadcasting on Marine VHF see the National Weather Service site. signs. Continuous broadcasts on VHF are updated every 4 hours or so (162.4 MHz). There are stations in the USVI (Ch 28) and Puerto Rico (Ch 22). There is also a station in the Bahamas on Ch 27 (every odd hour UTC)


Local Radio

Local radio services abound in the US. For details on continuous weather broadcasts go to the NOAA Weather Radio site. For frequencies click here In the Caribbean, Radio Antilles (930 kHz) is the main source of weather for local sailing, (I assume that it still operates). General forecasts at 0530 and 1215 LT, Marine forecasts at 0830 and 1825 LT.


Forecasts by email

Probably the easiest way is to use Saildocs for GRIB files and text retrievals from web pages. Or the MailASail equivalent. This is likely to be the case whether you are using SSB radio or Iridium phones gor your email connections to the Internet.

see my email page . Alternatively, use the WMO sponsored Internet site maintained by Météo-France. This site gives very quick downloads, even over mobile or satellite phones.



Frank Singleton's Home Page


Royal Air Force Yacht Club Home Page


Annexes

Useful Sites

Most of the sites given below are for North America. For links on this side of the water go to my Essential Weather Sites page.

A very usedful listing of Radio, RadioFax, RadioTeletype, NAVTEX stations etc can be found on William Hepburn's pages.

Marine Forecasts page of the National Weather Service Marine Product Dissemination Information

National Weather Radio

Radio Station Listing and Coverage

Marine Charts on the NET
The latest version of marine weather charts for broadcast by the U.S. Coast Guard are available from the National Weather Service Telecommunication Gateway on this server. The listed charts are in the G4 (T4) format and enveloped in TIFF for viewing.

National Weather Service

US CG Home page

Inmarsat C SafetyNET

NAVTEX Maritime Safety Broadcasts NAVTEX in the United States

le Guide Marine de Météo France
For VHF, MF, HF, NAVTEX schedules and frequencies. Internet links to charts and text forecasts.

The Spanish Met service site
Similarly, but not quite as comprehensive, for Spanish stations.

Links to GMDSS texts
A page on Frank Singleton's site.


These notes were the basis of a talk given to potential participants in the Trade Winds U.S.A 2001 Rally organized in association with the Royal Air Force Yacht Club. I hope that they will help others. This rally was planned to leave Lagos in mid October arriving Antigua in early December. While recognising the wish to get to the Caribbean as early as possible, I would normally recommend a slightly later start - perhaps late November or December from Gran Canaria arriving Antigua mid to late December. It is more importsnat to aim to arrive safely than to set a target date such as the Christmas party!


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