Introducing Super GRIB !


Viewfax4This is a Super GRIB hot off the Saildocs press.  And it’s courtesy of  both the Tropical Analysis & Forecast Branch of NOAA, and Jim Corenman of SailMail Association, who forged the process in order for you to get it through your AirMail program.

It’s a new approach to looking at raw meteorological data, in that the data in the Super GRIB is cooked a bit.   It’s still a bit on the rare side, because at this stage it’s quite experimental!

Go ahead – click on the image for its full effect!



YOTREPS 2.0 ? Love at second sight…

The YOTREPS module

The YOTREPS module

Have you ever fooled around the AirMail program and found this “module” under, surprise surprise, the MODULES tab? I have been getting a lot of inspiration from it, which in turn has got me thinking about ways to change around the Southbound Evening Net.

Or maybe it was the other way around: I was looking for inspiration on how to change how we do things and then found, or rather, rediscovered  the YOTREPS thingy.

It is love at second sight.


NOAA changes US coastal forecast zones

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center has just announced changes to the forecast zones that stretch along the US Pacific coastline from British Columbia – Washington border south to part of the outside of Baja California. Essentially the forecasters have split up zones into smaller, presumably more accurate areas. Prior to the changes, there were five zones along the “lower 48” west coast; now there are 19 zones.



Where are the buoys?

Here are they are. Notice something strange?

Here are they are. Notice something strange?

Anyone who has spent more than a couple of months sailing along the Pacific Coast of the Americas (aka the East Pacific) knows that figuring out what the weather is doing can be a complex and time-consuming affair.  We have some terrific volunteer weather “helpers” who spend hours each day going through satellite imagery and downloading charts and GRIBs and perhaps even consulting privately with the weather gods.

But it never seems to be enough.


How to get NOAA forecast from SailDocs

2013 Pacific Hurricanes

Click to enlarge

Below is a conversation with Jim Corenman, founder of SailMail Association,  who has implemented distribution of the new experimental forecasts via SailDocs.  I had asked him about what is the proper way to get the forecasts.   It’s quite simple now!  (If you need a refresher on requesting files from SailDocs,  click here.) If you have any questions about the process, use the comment form at the bottom.


Experimental Forecasts Now Available

UPDATE 0830 MDT March 25, 2014

Jim Corenman at SailMail Association has just notified me that Saildocs is now distributing the forecasts.  To request the forecasts all you need is to send an email to with this line in the body of the message:

send OFFPZ7       

This will send the forecast for Pacific Mexico coast.  For Central America south to Ecuador,  use this syntax:

send OFFPZ8

A full discussion of the process can be found here.



I am delighted to share with you the great news that the new NOAA forecast for the coastal East Pacific is now available on an experimental basis. Below you will find two URLs which will refresh (I believe) 4 times daily (230am PDT, 830am PDT, 230pm PDT, and 830pm PDT).

The simplest method for those of you without broadband Internet access will be to use Saildocs to “scrape” the data on a request basis. For example, for those interested in Mexican Pacific waters:

Send an email to: with this line in the body of the message:


For those interested in Central America down to Ecuador, do the same thing but send an email to: with this line in the body of the message:

Make sure the URL is in the top line of the message body without any spaces or indents.

Check your mail in a few minutes and your email service should send you the contents of those two URLs.

Net controllers: Please use the following disclaimer when reading the forecasts on your scheduled evenings:

“The following weather forecast is an EXPERIMENTAL product from NOAA. The product is in the beginnings of a trial phase, which will go on for several months. Until these forecasts become official, please use your prudence in interpreting this data especially when making travel plans.”

At the end of the weather briefing, please close it with this statement (please feel free to put it in your own words):

“That concludes the reading of the EXPERIMENTAL East Pacific Forecasts from NOAA. For more information regarding the trial phase, please see the Southbound Evening Net website at and sign up to become a beta tester.  Your feedback will be sent on to NOAA during the trial period and will help forecasters improve the product. Any questions or comments please call now.”

I will be incorporating this into a revised Preamble and will have it ready for you to download from the website.

SV Wendaway


Here is the information from Forecaster Lewitsky:

OFFPZ7 (Mexico)

OFFPZ8 (Central America, Colombia and Ecuador)

These should refresh automatically anytime the product is updated.

Also, please note that until these become operational if there are any
technical issues (e.g. the computer running the products goes down over a
weekend, etc) that they may become unavailable until the problem could be

Revised Zones for new East Pacific Forecast

EPAC zones

Click for full size map

They Listened…

It’s very interesting the way NOAA is approaching the launch of its new East Pacific forecast service.  And the map at the left proves it.

The revised map shows three zones for the Sea of Cortez – a result I believe of feedback from cruisers to the original proposed zones which had the Sea broken into two zones.

As one cruiser put it (and I am paraphrasing), “The flaw in existing forecasts which have a “Northern Sea” above 27 degrees North latitude and another “Southern Sea” below 27 is that cruisers experience a very different reality,” he said.

Many cruisers suggested that three zones would be more useful and NOAA responded.

Now the Sea is divided into three sections – the Northern Gulf of California, Central, and Southern. As well, all the zones have had a “WFO” identifier associated with each zone which will make it easier for Saildocs to begin to distribute the forecasts.


Have a look at the zones and let me know what you think.

Also fyi –  here is what the zones look like on the  Atlantic coast in tropical waters. You’ll appreciate how extensive they are.

Atlantic tropical zones

Click to enlarge