Question on WX Routing

gCaptain <a title=“mariner blog” href="]blog reader and meteoralogist Brad Snook asks:
<blockquote>I spent 13 years as a Meteorologist, recommending routes
and forecasting seas and swells for merchant ships around the world.
During those years, I witnessed incredible changes in technologies, in
changes to Communications (cable to sitor to fax, telex, e-mail), in
the coming of GPS and position polling, in the rising prices of bunkers
and daily charters, and in changes to the way shore-based operators
coordinate their efforts with ship captains over the entire globe. I
also witnessed changes to the way our weather routing product could be
delivered to the client and captain.
Over all those years, however, one thing remained the same: Most of
our clients were operating large vessels on long, mostly east to west
(or visa-versa), routes. So, a great majority of ship captains never
had the benefit of fully exploring the weather forecast differences,
anticipated ship motions, or ship routing options.
So, for all the Masters and Skippers alike, how do you see weather forecasting technology benefiting you in the future?

Soon everything we use will be on the ecdis.

Jeff,<br><div>I agree but I’m still not sure I’m happy about it… time will tell. </div><br><div>I do, however, predict that ecdis units will soon be replaced with digital, interactive chart tables using microsoft surface technology. In fact if anyone has a spare 1/2 million or so gCaptain could program the software today :wink: No takers? Well at least take a look:</div><br><div><br></div>

Most of my experience with weather routing, from the Master’s perspective, involved Oceanroutes and goes back about to a period between 1990 to 1998. I think they were located in Burlingame, CA (and Japan) at the time. I was master of a long-term time chartered ship. We sailed regularly between the U.S. and Japan. The charterer engaged Oceanroutes and paid for the weather routing service. We sent daily WX reports to Oceanroutes. I learned that Oceanroutes provides the charterer a report which indicated the weather experienced by the ship along the recommended route, and other compared the recommended and taken route to alternate routes. The report was several pages long. After the conclusion of a couple of voyages, I asked the charterer’s rep in Japan if they could provide me with the reports. The few reports that I obtained clearly showed that Oceanroutes consistently and fraudulently reported significantly better weather conditions along the recommended routes that we sailed, compared to what we actually experienced. Oceanroutes was able to play cards from a marked deck, using these reports to make themselves look better. Likely the recommended route was the best to take, but I realized why the charterers expected better performance from us. I pointed out the differences in the experienced weather to the charterers, and that marked the end of getting the end of voyage reports. The Japanese charterers never cared, they trusted the reports, but I knew better to trust Oceanroutes ever again.<br><br>Another memorable experience (on a different ship as Master, and weather routing was to be paid by the owner) occurred upon sailing from Narragansett Bay toward Hampton Roads. In fair weather the bar to bar time was only 23 hours. A hurricane was expected to be in the Hampton Roads area about the same time as our ETA at the pilot station. I called the owners and explained why we would be waiting in in western Long Island Sound until the storm passed. I was concerned that upon arrival at the Capes, entry to Hampton Roads would be closed to us. To cover us with the charterers, the owners wished to call Oceanroutes, and a conference call among the three of us was arranged. Oceanroutes actually recommended proceeding to Hampton Roads, recommended against taking shelter on the safe side (even though the storm forecast to be east of Rhode Island), and told us that, yes, the winds would be 100 knots, “but it would be on the stern.” Now I failed to trust Oceanroutes for a different, obvious reason. The owners were always very supportive in matters like this, and I was glad the VP got to hear Oceanroutes nonsense for himself.<br><br>So I guess to answer your question, unless the political process of selling weather routing services ends, it really doesn’t matter how good the forecasting technology is.<br>