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Here is a guide to getting the best weather information delivered to your boat using SSB email. The focus it mostly Mexico and Central America, but the information can be applied to all parts of the world. Note that SAILMAIL will remove attachments that are larger than 10kb. WINLINK offers a free service with larger data attachments, however you will need a General HAM license to use winlink.
The document linked below describes the following:
1. How to receive GRIB FILES over SSB Email
2. How to get weatherfax files through Saildocs server (works with winlink too!).
3. Get weather bouy and other Information from NOAA
4. How to download text versions of any website.
5. Access Buoyweather.com & QuickScat data for free.
6. Mexican & Central American Sites via email with helpful comments from Don Anderson
7. Get Spot Forecasts for your position from saildocs.
In order to make sure that no additional formatting characters are inserted, the text file is available for direct download. This way you can email it to your SSB email account and use it on board your boat without worrying about picking up any stray characters.
Right click on this link for the guide and choose SAVE TARGET AS to save it to your computer. This will help prevent your computer from inserting any extra formatting characters so you can just cut and paste from the guide directly into your SSB email program.
Here is an example of how to use this guide to receive weather data relevant to crossing the dangerous Gulf of Tehuantepec in Southern Mexico. I used 4 different sources of data to double check the models against each other.
Send "firstname.lastname@example.org" the following line of text: send spot:16N,95.5W|7,12| This will generate a detailed weather forecast for 7 days at 12 hour intervals for the area that is at the shotgun barrel of the Tehuantepec. This is a similar feature to buoyweather, but you can get more detailed information.
First off, construct a Virtual buoy about 5 miles offshore in the center of the Tehuantepec (16.0d N and 95.5d W). Then check the region code (ME for this area), then make the following URL based on the one found in the guide (don't use return, just make it one long line of text):
Now create a blank email to "email@example.com" then in the message body (pick any subject you like), paste the URL for buoyweather and send it. In less than 5 minutes a reply will be ready for you to down load with a 3 day outlook at that position.
Note that the Gulf of Tehuantepec creates its own high speed wind funnel down the middle and that all of the forecasts are averaged over much bigger areas. So if the Tehuantepec is blowing from the North, double all the numbers you get from any official forecast and that will be roughly the worst case conditions. Buoyweather is good for noting the sea-state and in the Tehuantepec pay close attention to the period between the waves. There's a big difference in 10 feet at 4 seconds and 10 feet at 15 seconds.
Getting the GRIB File covering the Tehuantepec is easy. But expect the wind strength to be 50% higher and gusts to be double the forecasted winds if it is blowing from the north. Anyway, following the format presented in the guide, just send "firstname.lastname@example.org" the following line of text:
There is one Weather buoy in Atlantic Side of the Tehuantepec and if you see winds from the N quadrant at 15 or more, watch out because in 12 to 24 hours it will carry over into the Tehuantepec at double or more. Send "email@example.com" the following line of text in the message body:
Typically these files are too big for sailmail, but you can try them over winlink. If you see a high pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico or gale warnings with winds from the N expect the Tehuantepec to have at least double the forecasted winds in the middle.
Send "firstname.lastname@example.org" with either one of the weatherfax requests shown below:
0 and 24 hours of Tehuantepec and Gulf of Mexico (most current)
48 and 72 hours of Tehuantepec area and Gulf of Mexico (most current)