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Old 01-08-2019, 05:24 PM   #1
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Weather details in the Bahamas

We have a Mainship 390 Trawler based in Miami, top speed of around 8 Kts. We plan on retiring the end of February and spending a few months in the Bahamas. We have had the boat since last July and are comfortable with operation and maintenance. What concerns us is weather forecasting, both for picking a suitable crossing window and for determining where to anchor to avoid prevalent winds. We have no weather forecasting experience. We were thinking of getting Chris Parker custom forecasts. The web site talks about SSB broadcasts. We only have VHF radio. Do we need handheld SSB? Are there other options and if so how do we get the information? Does VHF suffice for some of these services. Also I looked at sample forecasts and they were like a foreign language to me. Is there a good book (And do I need it?). We are weather illiterate!
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Old 01-08-2019, 05:54 PM   #2
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In my opinion Chris Parker is a great resource. I subscribe to his service for my yearly sailboat trips to the Bahamas.
I do not have SSB and handle all my interaction thru email and webcasts , both of which require an internet connection of course. Our smartphones handle that very well both in Florida and in the Bahamas.

I would make sure he knows you are a trawler,Have fun.
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Old 01-08-2019, 07:18 PM   #3
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We've made 8 trips to the Bahamas. We have cruising friends who subscribed to Chris Parker, they did NOT have SSB, they received updates via email. With SSB, you need to be by the radio at the appointed time, not always practical. I had a portable SSB receiver, it could not be relied upon to receive the WX. Chris's WX is some of the best, we were fortunate that our cruising friends shared their emails. For your initial visit, that option may provide you more confidence as there's more cruising-related detail/commentary- e.g. regional travel recommendations.

Without the subscription, we still were able to get WX nearly every day via internet. Depending on your location, LTE service is pretty good, and our WX of choice was Bouyweather, Windy, or PassageWeather, probably in that order. We subscribe to Bouyweather, not expensive.

Internet is available most everywhere, but gaps exist between towers, so a cellular booster amp and external antenna makes the difference between signal or none. Our Wilson external antenna and Sleek 4G amp works great, despite being "obsolete". That's discussion for a different thread.
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:32 PM   #4
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I used a Sony shortwave portable to try to pick up Chris' broadcasts when we were in the Exumas. It worked about half the time. If I was going to try again I would put in a masthead antenna and maybe an antenna tuner.

Email is certainly more convenient, but not available everywhere. If you plan to stay near the populated areas, I would go the cell phone data route. If you are wandering off the beaten path, I would plan to use a radio.
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Old 01-09-2019, 06:51 AM   #5
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We struggled with this when we first started going over 10 years ago. We have since learned that the best way to go is to get a BTC or Aliv (sp?) sim card for one of our phones and to use it as a hotspot. There are some coverage gaps, but overall it is pretty good.


I use the standard web based forecasts, Windfinder, NOAA, Marv's Bouy Weather, Windyty, Barometer Bob (Abaco only) etc. It's pretty easy and as accurate as in the states for the most part.


I never bother with my vhf for weather over there, other than maybe a cruiser's net.
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Old 01-09-2019, 07:23 PM   #6
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Windyty and Passage weather.com are every bit as accurate as Chris Parker for the Bahamas. I've spent months over there comparing all 3 and I quit bothering to tune in to Chris Parker (ssb) after a while.
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Old 01-10-2019, 05:40 PM   #7
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If you get a SiriusXM receiver for your chartplotter, you will get weather predictions all the way out to the Exumas, and even Norad coverage for the closer in Bahamas. That ends about 200 miles off of Florida.
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Old 01-10-2019, 06:19 PM   #8
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I crossed to the Bahamas 29 times and never used Parker.
(But I may in the future, heard he is good)
The NWS Marine forcast is good and almost spot on most of the time: Yet sometimes unexpected and un-forecast Winds kick up in the middle of the stream and out of nowhere. Not sure Parker could forecast that either.
Sailed for years with Navtex and found it helpful, medium frequency and about 400 NM range. Not sure how much longer it will be supported however.
If close to a cell phone tower I sometimes sms my buddies in Florida and ask them to get me the latest forcast.
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Old 01-10-2019, 06:46 PM   #9
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For crossing to the Bahamas, I would use NOAA forecasts first, backed up by Windy data. Then if in the Abacos I would use Barometer Bob's website if I had internet service, otherwise listen in to Bob's forecast on the cruiser's net on VHF channel 68 at 8:15 AM. Check Bob's forecast just before leaving to cross back to the US. You can sometimes pick up NOAA on VHF at the West End in the Bahamas just before crossing back for a last minute check.



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