He Does Weather Routing, Not Miracles

Winter North Atlantic, not a good place for yachts.

I have been using weather routing companies for over 25 years, anytime I have had to make a tricky passage, particularly early or late in the season.

(Less so in recent years when improved models and less expensive satellite data have allowed me to develop and perfect my own routing procedures—see the blue box below the video.)

That said, I’m seeing a recent trend of some sailors assuming that a router is a miracle worker who can make any passage safe and even comfortable.

But, as I related in a recent article, that’s not necessarily so, particularly when making a North Atlantic passage in November with winter coming on fast.

Worse still, voyagers are now regularly setting off on multi-day passages even in mid-winter. A trend that tells me they have completely missed the fact that a model that is consistently accurate out to five days in settled summer weather can be badly wrong just two days out from forecast time in less settled seasons.

But don’t take my word for it. Rather, let me hand you over to Ken Campbell, founder and senior router at Commander’s Weather. I know it’s 45 minutes long and you are busy, but this is really worth your time. Ken is the real deal, and he is showing big-time integrity in sharing the limitations in what he does and the data he (and we) use.

After you get done watching Ken, scroll down for some thoughts on how to learn about weather.

Learning About Weather

There are eight additional segments by other presenters (all of whom I admire) available from the same one day seminar.

Sounds like a great way to learn about weather, but, having watched all but one of the presentations, I found that the others suffered from the standard problem of one, or even two, day weather seminars: trying to cram too much in.

This results in attendees getting deluged with theory, that, if they are anything like me, will stay between their ears for a good five minutes, but coming away with little hard actionable information.

I mean seriously, Lee Chesneau, one of my weather heroes, would need most of two days to lay the ground work before he could teach us stuff we can use offshore, not 45 minutes.

I think most people who wish to get a basic grounding in weather for self-routing offshore would be better off to:

  1. Read Frank Singleton‘s Weather Handbook. It will only take you a couple of hours, at least for a first pass. I have never seen a better way to wrap your arms around the basic theory in the minimum possible time. (Get the paper version, graphics suck on Kindle.)
  2. Read our Weather Reception and Analysis Online Book, for a step-by-step how-to—another two hours or so.
  3. If you really want to get into it, move on to the “Damned Book“.

All that said, I did learn some useful stuff from most of the videos, so here are links to the others so you can judge for yourself:

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John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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