The Benefits Of Weather Routing
Whether you’re island hopping in the Caribbean, racing to Bermuda, sports fishing in Key West or crossing the Atlantic, weather will always play a key role in the security and safety of your vessel, crew and passengers.
Your best bet for staying out of harm’s way? Pantaenius America recommends you enlist the help of a weather routing service.
Mother Nature Can Be Unpredictable
Cold fronts…gales…tropical storms…high-pressure ridges. To avoid or reduce the effects of volatile weather while yachting, you can (and should) always go the traditional route by tuning into your VHF radio and surfing coastal weather websites for the latest forecasts. If you’re navigating in U.S. waters, for example, you should always obtain an up-to-date marine forecast from NOAA (www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/wxradio.htm). But for even greater protection, Pantaenius America recommends that you consider taking advantage of the many state-of-the-art benefits a weather routing service has to offer ….
Your Personal Meteorologist = Peace of Mind
No matter where in the world you’re sailing, you can plan a detailed itinerary, check the immediate weather forecast and take all the necessary steps to assure that your yacht is seaworthy. But the one thing you can’t control is changes in weather once you’re underway. Having a weather routing service on your team is like having a pair of expert eyes on the situation. Their goal is to get you to your destination in the quickest, shortest and safest way possible—with safest being the operative word here. And to accomplish that, here’s a sampling of what a weather routing service can offer you:
- Round-the-clock Protection. When it comes to safe yachting, knowledge is power, and weather technology has come a long way. Nowadays, skilled marine meteorologists can pinpoint most threats at sea well in advance. In fact, there’s no place on the planet that a good weather routing service can’t forecast for. All you need to do is provide them with your itinerary, and they can advise the best day(s) to depart, as well as recommend the safest route to your destination.
Once underway, you can opt to receive detailed daily reports that summarize not just that day’s weather, but will list accurate forecasts for up to a week ahead. These personalized reports typically include a map of your specific route, a currents map, a summary of temperatures and visibility, as well as a detailed discussion of any potential hazards that lie ahead.
Since a weather routing service is constantly monitoring conditions while you’re en route, you’ll receive immediate alerts of any harmful climate changes (big gales, tropical situations, tsunamis, etc.), accompanied by rerouting advice (including suggestions of the safest ports of call nearby) that will significantly reduce the possibility of severe or catastrophic damage to your vessel or injury to your crew and passengers.
- VIP Treatment. When you partner with a weather routing service, every perk they provide is all about you, your itinerary, your particular vessel and your guests. For example, if there are no stabilizers on board your yacht, they will suggest routes that will enable you to avoid short, choppy seas. Or, if you have a passenger on board who can only tolerate 4’ seas, they will advise you where to cruise accordingly.
In addition to offering recommendations on the optimal times to travel, they will suggest the best cruising speed for your yacht, provide routing strategies that will save on fuel costs and even include tips on the best spots en route to stop and fill ‘er up.
A good weather routing service will also act as your liaison with loved ones on land. If, for instance, you’re having trouble reaching family or friends while at sea—or vice versa—the personnel at your weather routing service will be able to relay messages—including vital weather information—and assure all parties that everyone is okay.
- A Competitive Edge. Weather routing services can provide detailed forecasts for regattas, races and big sport fishing tournaments, including up-to-the-minute alerts to warn of impending weather dangers. If you’re racing, for example, they can advise optimal routing to help you sidestep pop-up storms that could hamper your progress. They can also research the best following currents that may add distance slightly, but in the long run, save time, allow you to “go with the flow,” and give you an advantage over other racers.
If you’re competing in a sport fishing tournament, some weather routing services can provide charts to supplement forecasts. Many also boast additional tools that can help you pinpoint the fishing “hot spots”.
What To Look For In A Weather Routing Service
To assure you get top-notch services, the company you choose should:
- Be available 24/7, 365 days a year. Hazardous weather conditions can occur without a lot of notice, and when they do, you want to be alerted immediately. Also, assistance should be a mere phone call or email away, regardless of what time zone you’re cruising in.
- Offer a competent, reputable and well-trained staff. You want to work with certified marine meteorologists who boast lots of experience. Ask about the qualifications of a company’s staff, as well as how long the company has been in business. Request a list of references, or ask other yacht owners which companies they recommend.
- Not require that you purchase special equipment. You should already have everything you need on board to use a weather routing company’s services.
- Not insist on a long-term commitment. Weather routing services should always start and stop at your discretion. Look for a company that will bill you only when you use their services.
- Competitive pricing. As a rule of thumb, the cost (per trip) of using a weather routing service should be a fraction of what it costs to fill your vessel’s tank with fuel. Again, call or ask around—and know that most contracts are negotiable.
BONUS: Pantaenius America has made it possible to download Weather Routing, Inc.’s mobile app, which includes a 15-day free trial (with no obligation to subscribe) to the company’s SeaWeather Service. This premium package offers access to weather charts, weather news and alerts to aid in trip planning—plus you’ll get access to a fishing planner to find hotspot areas for various fish species. You can also request forecasts through the SeaWeather mobile app, as well as view forecasts and meteograms you already requested on the app. Whether you have an Android, Blackberry, iPhone, or Windows device, you can simply go to www.Mobile.SeaWeather.net in your mobile web browser to get started.
Information provided by David Cannon and Mark Neiswender, Directors of Yacht Operations/Senior Meteorologists and Racing/Tournament Specialists and Senior Meteorologist Jeremy Davis at Weather Routing, Inc., a 52-year-old weather routing company based in Upstate New York. They can be reached by phone at 518-798-1110, online at www.wriwx.com or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.