Marine Weather

Here is a compilation of articles, interviews and technical reports on marine weather and another natural phenomena you might encounter while out sailing!

Heavy Weather Tactics For Power Boats: Big Waves and Small Details

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FPB 97-1 Iceberg running before a stiff breeze during sea trials.

The post that follows this introduction is a chapter excerpted from the FPB 70 and 78 Owner’s Manual. Everyone who goes to sea thinks and/or worries (or should) about heavy weather, and how their vessel will handle different conditions. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a 25,000 ton container ship, a moderate-sized sailing yacht, or one of our FPBs. We think it is better to discuss these issues openly, rather than ignore them and hope you never get caught. Read the rest »


Posted by Steve Dashew  (July 12, 2017)    |    Comments (6)

Hurricane Matthew And Being Prepared – Posted by Sarah

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With Hurricane Matthew at Category IV having just pummeled Haiti and heading quickly for the Florida coast, we wanted to revisit some good references on hurricane preparation. Read the rest »


Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (October 4, 2016)    |    Comments (0)

Going to Sea? Download For Free..

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For decades, Linda and Steve Dashew’s books have been considered essential references for any serious cruiser. Having been blessed with the support of the yachting community for many years, they’d like to return the favor. Read the rest »


Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (May 9, 2016)    |    Comments (7)

Extreme Weather Tactics Article In Berthon’s Magazine

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Steve has an interesting article on extreme weather tactics in the most recent edition of UK-based Berthon’s Lifestyle Magazine. They were kind enough to allow us to embed a pdf of the article here for SetSailors to peruse. Read the rest »


Posted by admin  (October 17, 2014)    |    Comments (0)

FPB 64-6 Grey Wolf Picking Up Speed: Possible Lottery Win On The Horizon

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FPB 64-6 Grey Wolf has finally hit her stride and is cruising along at 9.7 to 11 knots towards Panama along the fifth parallel.

Read the rest »


Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 10, 2014)    |    Comments (0)

Crossing The North Pacific Hurricane Belt – The Tradeoffs

Xmas Palmyra HI overview

Crossing oceans often leads to compromise between weather, risk, comfort, and what might or mightn’t occur. An example of this was recently faced by the crew of FPB 64-3 Iron Lady. In this post we will look at issues involved, including hurricane avoidance tactics.

Read the rest »


Posted by Steve Dashew  (August 27, 2013)    |    Comments (0)

Learning About Expedition Routing – Comparing Weather Models

We’ve been using the new (to us) weather routing software to which Troy Bethel introduced us. As cruisers, on an Unsailboat no less, many of the race-oriented features sit idle. But the weather functions are wonderful. This is especially true now that the combination of Sailmail SSB and Iridium are working so well (more on this in a future update).

What we like in particular about the Expedition software is that it allows us to easily compare files from different world wide weather models. In some weather patterns one model may be working better than another, and this new flexibility is a huge boost in our ability to understand what is going on, the risk factors, and how to make the fastest and most comfortable passage. If that sounds enthusiastic it is because we are stoked on this product.

Lets start with the weather models. Using either Expedition connected to an Internet source such as Iridium, or Sailmail (with the SSB radio or Iridium) the first step is to select a model.

Sailmail grib chopper

Read the rest »


Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 27, 2008)    |    Comments (6)

Routing for Cruisers

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We’re headed for Panama now, and while this route will generally have winds from the aft quadrant, we are using a combination of tools to look ahead and see what the weather gods are planning.

Using programs like SailMail, UUPlus, and Ocens we are currently getting used to the new GFS weather model and getting reacquainted with NOGAPS as well.

Then there is a new routing tool being developed for cruisers. This is an offshoot of one of the most successful ocean racing programs, Nick White’s “Expedition”. The racers need all sorts of complex calculations with a variety of ways of playing “what if” games. For cruising we want it much simpler and easier to use. That’s one of the things we have been working with Troy Bethel on, an example of which is above.

Read the rest »


Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 16, 2008)    |    Comments (0)

Logging Weather Data

Those of you who have been with us for a while know we have a passion for and about weather. Weather affects everything we do when cruising: our comfort, passage speed, security. Obviously this applies at anchor as well as on passage.

Although the latest generation of weather models are better, they still have problems resolving the data on a micro basis, where it affects all of us. That’s why there are still so many weather-related “surprises” when cruising.

Read the rest »


Posted by Steve Dashew  (April 15, 2008)    |    Comments (0)

Tongan Volcano Adventure

A SetSailor recently sailed onto the scene of a volcanic eruption near Tonga, where he witnessed the birth of a new island. Fredrik Fransson of Maiken has sent us a gripping account with incredible photos of the experience.

sailing through pumice

We left Neiafu in the Vava’u group of islands in the northern part of Tonga on Friday the 11th of August, sailing towards Fiji. There was no wind, so we motored along towards an offshore island called Late Island. We had seen on the chart that Metis Shoal and Home Reef in the area were known for volcanic activity. Both are south of Late Island, so we thought it was best to pass it on the north side. Fairly soon we discovered brown grainy streaks in the water. It looked like heavy oil mixed with water. The surrounding water was strangely greenish, like a lagoon, not the deep bluish color that you normally see sailing offshore. The further southwest we got, the streaks turned into heavy bands of floating matter, until the whole horizon was a solid line to what looked like a desert.

Read the rest »


Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (December 20, 2006)    |    Comments (1)

Indian Ocean Tsunamis – Lessons Learned

As awful as the devastation and loss of life has been from the Indian Ocean tsunamis, there are still some lessons that can be learned. The following comments are based on discussions with those on hand, plus previous experiences in California and Hawaii.

Warning Signs

The normal nature of tsunamis is such that they are preceded by a long-range trough. This causes an atypical drop in water level. This occurred during the recent Indian Ocean situation, and was responsible for much of the loss of life at Hilo, Hawaii, many years ago when it was hit (many of those drowned at Hilo were out on the reefs looking for shells in the unusually low tide).
Read the rest »


Posted by Steve Dashew  (March 21, 2005)    |    Comments (0)

Tsunami Photos Sent by Cruisers

The following photos were taken by Catherine York, who was aboard the J46 Aragorn anchored off Phi Phi Don, Thailand, when the tsunamis hit.  These photos cover a one-minute span, showing the first ebb and the first flood.

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Read the rest »


Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (January 18, 2005)    |    Comments (0)

Tsunami at Anchor

Here’s a report from Gavin and Sukey of Scott-Free, circumnavigators who were in Thailand during the tsunamis. Interesting feedback on the three waves and how they behaved in 12m (40 feet) of water.

Hello “out there”. First and foremost, thanks to those of you who have rung or e-mailed over the last few days concerned about our welfare. The situation along the coast here in Thailand, particularly Phuket, is fairly disastrous, as most of you will know, since I understand the coverage has been understandably extensive with some dramatic and horrible images of the mayhem caused by the Tsunamis.

Read the rest »


Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (January 10, 2005)    |    Comments (0)

2004 Tsunamis: After the Deluge

John Gray runs sea kayak tours based out of Phuket, Thailand. He sent us this article about his experiences with the tsunamis, and his attempts to warn others about the risk thereof.

The tremors began at 7.58am. The long, low-frequency shakes lasted two minutes. It wasn’t the shattering, sharp jolt one expects from a California quake, but it felt ominous. The tremors lasted long enough that I had time to put a bowl of water on the floor to verify the shakes. Sure enough, the water was rippling.

Read the rest »


Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (January 10, 2005)    |    Comments (0)

Cruising Weather Sources

There is so much weather data available today that capturing and absorbing it can be an overwhelming project. We look for a few good sources that apply to the area in which we are cruising-and then concentrate on those.

Read the rest »


Posted by Steve Dashew  (October 11, 2004)    |    Comments (2)

Get Background Info on Marine Weather Forecasts

We’ve recently discovered a valuable new resource. You can download daily technical discussions from Marine Prediction Center forecasters with the behind-the-scenes thinking that goes into their forecasts.

We’ve had an ongoing conversation about the forecasting process over the years with Dave Feit, who runs the Marine Prediction Center. Recently Dave pointed us to a new (to us) resource, which is a technical discussion of the North Atlantic and Pacific forecasts. This includes how the weather models are behaving, and what various scenarios are for the different forecast products. These “interpretations” are done in a sort of shorthand.

Read the rest »


Posted by Steve Dashew  (October 10, 2004)    |    Comments (0)

Worldwide Marine Radiofacsimile Broadcast Schedules

This is a PDF file listing weatherfax frequencies and schedules for fax stations around the world.

Click here to download.


Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (September 27, 2004)    |    Comments (0)

Riding Out Category 4 Hurricane at Anchor

Here's an eyewitness report from Hurricane Ivan in Grenada. This email was recently forwarded to us by a SetSailor, and we thought it would be of interest to the community.

Read the rest »


Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (September 26, 2004)    |    Comments (1)

Interview with Hurricane Ivan Survivors

This is an interview with the owners of Jedi, one of the few boats to survive Hurricane Ivan in Grenada with minimal damage. We asked them what gear and tactics worked, and what didn’t.

During the recent collision of hurricane Ivan with Grenada, one of our Sundeer 64s, Jedi, was at anchor in Mount Hartman Bay. We were able to contact Jedi’s owners, Nick and Josie, through the help of another cruiser in Venezuela. While we’d not wish this experience on anyone, their comments serve to put the blow into perspective, and to analyze what could help if one was ever caught in such a situation.

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Jedi was originally called Polaris, and has a slightly shallower draft (by six inches/150mm) than the standard Sundeer 64s. She is ketch rigged. The photo above shows one of her sisterships. Following are our questions for Nick and Josie, and their answers.

Read the rest »


Posted by Steve Dashew  (September 26, 2004)    |    Comments (0)

Lessons Learned from Hurricane Ivan in Grenada

Ivan wreaked havoc on the Caribbean and the Southeastern US, including Grenada, an area that was previously known as a hurricane-safe zone. Here’s an analysis of the storm, and the tactics used by the sailors caught in it. We’ve also got suggestions for anchoring in a hurricane, and what to do if you’re in the unfortunate position of needing to salvage your boat.

We’ve been receiving e-mails from some of our friends in the Southern Caribbean with early reports of what happened in Grenada. News is still sketchy, but we’ve picked up a few details. First, our prayers go out to all of those in Grenada, and to everyone who is worried about friends and loved ones in the area.

The bottom end of the Caribbean (including Grenada and Trinidad) is considered out of the hurricane zone.

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However, as with all generalities that deal with weather, and as recent events have shown, this has to be taken with a grain of salt.
Read the rest »


Posted by Steve Dashew  (September 15, 2004)    |    Comments (0)

Preparing for Hurricane Charley

This illustrated article from Tom and Jean Service details the steps they took to prepare their 1977 CSY 44 cutter for Hurricane Charley.

Read the rest »


Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (August 16, 2004)    |    Comments (0)

Local Knowledge

Here’s a PDF file containing a list of Port Meteorological Officers in countries all over the world, with their contact info. These folks are a great resource for data on local weather and conditions.

Click here to download.


Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (July 8, 2004)    |    Comments (0)

Weather for Spring Passage from Fiji/Tonga to NZ

One of the toughest passages to figure out weatherwise is from the tropical islands of the South Pacific to New Zealand. There are several hundred boats getting ready to depart Fiji and Tonga just about now, and they are all discussing strategy, watching faxes, and checking their boats. Here’s an exchange of e-mails between a cruiser in Tonga, SetSail’s Steve Dashew, and Bob McDavitt, the ultimate South Pacific weather guru (who works for the New Zealand Met service).

Read the rest »


Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (November 14, 2002)    |    Comments (0)

Weather Sources (in Response to a Reader’s Questions)

Steve and Linda answer a reader’s questions about sources for weather data.

Read the rest »


Posted by Steve Dashew  (October 31, 2002)    |    Comments (0)

Free Guide to Hurricanes in the North Atlantic Basin

The forecasters at the Tropical Prediction Center have put out a 71-page booklet in PDF format on hurricanes in the North Atlantic Basin. We’ve just finished reading through it and it is a great resource – an excellent tool to go along with the material in Mariner’s Weather Handbook for dealing with hurricanes.

Click here to download.


Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (December 15, 2001)    |    Comments (0)

Account of a Helicopter Rescue

Here’s a letter from a helicopter pilot who helped rescue the crew of Freya, and tried to rescue the crew of Salacia, as featured in Surviving the Storm. We found his letter so chilling, we thought we should share it.

To Steve & Linda Dashew,

I was able to see your “Surviving the Storm” book via Reg Ellwood…I was the Co-pilot and winch operator for the rescue of the Burman’s on the “Freya”. I was also Captain of the aircraft the following day at the first light in the search for Julie Black and the “Salacia”. The latter having been reduced to pieces not much larger than this letter.

Read the rest »


Posted by Sarah.Dashew  (March 3, 2000)    |    Comments (1)

Tropical to Extratropical Transitions

Every year a certain percentage of tropical hurricanes work their way into higher latitudes. In the process, these storm systems change their fundamental structure. They frequently end up covering huge areas of ocean, much larger than their tropical antecedents, moving at speeds of as much as 1000 miles per day in the process. Two recent examples of this process on the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. are Danielle and Mitch.

Read the rest »


Posted by Steve Dashew  (May 30, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

A Perspective on Heavy Weather

In the last few months news accounts have been filled with images of severe offshore weather, damaged boats and loss of life. Sailing offshore is not risk free – but neither is driving your car down the street, or taking a bath (last year someone a couple of miles from our house in Tucson was electrocuted by lightening while using his dishwasher!).
Read the rest »


Posted by Steve Dashew  (February 28, 1999)    |    Comments (0)

Sydney Hobart Storm

The Sydney Hobart blow of 1998, which claimed half a dozen lives, and the loss of a number of yachts, is a devastating event for those who took part in the race as well as for those of us who have read about the blow (and wonder if we might some day be caught in the same circumstances). We are just now starting to see data on the storm, and hear from those who were close to the event.

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Read the rest »


Posted by Steve Dashew  (January 31, 1999)    |    Comments (0)