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South Pacific Weather Collection via SSB
July 2010

Here is what I ask for on pretty nearly a daily basis, while in French Polynesia trying to figure out the weather. 

The 'send' are the commands to get each product via Saildocs.  See link at the bottom for getting the same information via the internet.  To request these forecasts, use any email client and create an email with addressee request att saildocs.com with Subject line beginning 'Saildocs Request' and with the commands below in the body, one per line.  You can request multiple products in one email, but you will receive the responses back in separate emails.

Fiji Met Surface Analysis

send fleet.nadi
send nadi.sopac

Each is about 2K in size.

The first one is known as the "Nadi Fleet Codes". With a proper viewer (a program), this gives a synoptic picture of the weather systems between French Poly and Australia.

You need a viewer to decode the Fleet Codes, and this turns the coded text into a nice weather map. There are two programs floating around that are viewers, WIAC and PhysPlot.
Download the Fleet Code program on the Pangolin website www.pangolin.co.nz before you get out of internet range. In my opinion, PhysPlot is easier to use, and also works on Windows 7. Below is a screen shot from PhysPlot.

In PhysPlot, you can grab the slider bar and easily reveal the text describing the major weather features.

The second product is basically the same information, but is text. You have to plot out the fronts and troughs yourself. Useful if you don't have the viewer, but redundant, I think, once you get the fleet code viewer.

NOAA High Seas text forecast

This is for the area covering Fr Poly westward, from NOAA's Hawaii office. Coverage is EQUATOR TO 25S BETWEEN 120W AND 160E.  Similar but sometimes different and sometimes conflicting info for the same area. (about 2K in size)

send FZPS40.PHFO

NOAA Hawaii Weather Fax Products

SW Pacific Satellite Photo
Streamline Analysis
24, 48, 72 hr forecasts

Freq's:    9980.6   11088.1    16133.1  USB
LOCAL Product Valid Time Coverage
0724 SIGNIFICANT CLOUD FEATURES 03/15 30S - 50N, 110W - 160E
0755 STREAMLINE ANALYSIS 00/12 30S - 30N, 110W - 130E
0849 SW PACIFIC GOES IR SATELLITE IMAGE 06/18 40S - 05N, 130W - 165E
0940 WIND/WAVE ANALYSIS 00/12 30S - 30N, 110W - 130E
0953 24HR WIND/WAVE FORECAST 00/12 30S - 30N, 110W - 130E
     
1302 48HR WIND/WAVE FORECAST 00/12 30S - 30N, 110W - 130E
1315 72HR WIND/WAVE FORECAST 00/12 30S - 30N, 110W - 130E
1341 rebroadcast 24HR WIND/WAVE FORECAST 00/12 30S - 30N, 110W - 130E
1354 STREAMLINE ANALYSIS  06/18 30S - 30N, 110W - 130E
     
1448 SW PACIFIC GOES IR SATELLITE IMAGE 00/12 40S - 05N, 130W - 165E
     
1924 SIGNIFICANT CLOUD FEATURES 03/15 30S - 50N, 110W - 160E
1955 STREAMLINE ANALYSIS 00/12 30S - 30N, 110W - 130E
2049 SW PACIFIC GOES IR SATELLITE IMAGE 06/18 40S - 05N, 130W - 165E
2140 WIND/WAVE ANALYSIS 00/12 30S - 30N, 110W - 130E
2153 24HR WIND/WAVE FORECAST 00/12 30S - 30N, 110W - 130E
     
0102 48HR WIND/WAVE FORECAST 00/12 30S - 30N, 110W - 130E
0115 72HR WIND/WAVE FORECAST 00/12 30S - 30N, 110W - 130E
0141 rebroadcast 24HR WIND/WAVE FORECAST 00/12 30S - 30N, 110W - 130E
0154 STREAMLINE ANALYSIS  06/18 30S - 30N, 110W - 130E

I use Airmail's Getfax program with a PTC-2 modem to get weather fax.  It already has the stations and frequencies coded in the program, and is pretty easy to use once you figure it out. 

To receive fax well, you need to eliminate all 'noise' onboard and connect to the proper frequency for the time of day you are trying to get weather.  A little experimentation before you leave is useful!  The worst noisemakers aboard are:  12v motors (refrigeration!, fans), fluorescent lights, solar controllers, inverters & computer chargers.

If you have a Sat phone, the 'Noaa Charts in Color from Hawaii' and one Satellite photoa are within reasonable download sizes.  (see the Internet Weather page)


French Poly Text Forecast (about 3k)

send fr.poly

It talks about French Polynesia in quadrants like A35.  ‘A’ is 5-10 degrees S latitude, B is 10-15 degrees, C is 15-20 degrees, etc.  The ‘35’ is the area of longitude from 135-140, ‘40’ is 140-145, etc.  Most of the Tuamotus are in C40 and C45.  Here’s an example of the C40 forecast.

C40 - CENTRE TUAMOTU

SUR LA MOITIE NORD DE LA ZONE, VENT DE SECTEUR EST 07/10KT REVENANT A MI-ECHEANCE AU NORD-EST PUIS NORD A TERME.

SUR LA MOITIE SUD DE LA ZONE, SECTEUR NORD 07/10KT FRAICHISSANT A TERME 11/16KT. MER PEU AGITEE DEVENANT AGITEE A TERME SUR LA MOITIE SUD DE LA ZONE.

Obviously you need a translator.  Download one here.

A picture of the French Poly weather zones can be downloaded from here.

Local detailed GRIB file (of course, this varies by location, about 15K)

send GFS:13S,19S,151W,143W|0.5,0.5|6,12..84|PRMSL,WIND,RAIN

Wide area GRIB file to see major patterns, (not detailed, about 15K)

GFS:07S,40S,170W,140W|3,3|6,12..168|PRMSL,WIND

You can add waves to the GRIB files by adding these two codes on the end: 'HTSGW,WVDIR' but this will significantly increase the size of the file. When I want sea state information, I usually just use the spot forecast. But understand that the waves heights given are SWELL and not really wind-waves.

Spot forecast for my current anchorage (about 2K)

If you have this and aren't moving, you can skip the first GRIB, about 2K. The lat/longs are in decimal degrees. This is extracted right out of the GRIB file, so has the same errors that GRIB info can have

send spot:15.8S,146.1W|5,3

(Note that this can be requested using the grib file request window in Airmail, use the button with the cross-hairs on it to set your location).

NZ Wefax

Freqs: 3247.4, 5807, 9459, 13550.5, 16340.1

The times & products applicable to the Tuamotus are as follows:

LOCAL TUAMOTU TIME (-10 UTC)
----------------------------
0600, 1200, 1800, 0000 - Surface Analysis
0200, 1400 - 36 hr forecast
0300, 1500 - 48 hr forecast
0400, 1600 - 72 hr forecast

Each product is broadcast at the top of the hour on 5807, then at 15 after on 9459, at 30 after on 13550.5. At 45 after in the night hours, they use 3247.4, and in the afternoons 16340.1.

I used Getfax (download from the Airmail site), and it has the freq's programmed in.  Otherwise, use USB and subtract 1.9 off each frequency to get the actual dial frequency. In French Poly, 5807 works best in the mornings, higher frequencies in the afternoons (16 Mhz usually best for the afternoon forecast sequence).

Other text forecasts for Further West

Click on the little box in the Airmail toolbar just to the left of the GRIB request button with the blue center. This should give you the list of available text forecasts. Expand the list and look under Pacific and under that South, and there are a lot of other forecasts you can request.

Bob McDavitt's Weathergram

Plus I also get Bob McDavitt's weathergram on Sunday (you can request this thru Saildocs or get a subscription sent to your Sailmail address through yotreps, on the Pangolin website). This is a weekly preview of the major weather systems between NZ and French Polynesia.

South Pacific Weather Sources - Internet

Understanding South Pacific Weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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