WHY SUPERYACHT CAPTAINS NEED ACCURATE WEATHER INFORMATION
Last updated: 08/07/2019
Irrespective of whether you are island hopping around the Greek isles, visiting the Caribbean or taking a superyacht down to Bora Bora to meet its owner for a trip around the South Sea islands, knowing if you are going to experience calm seas and blue skies or something more exciting is essential.
Whether you rely solely on a weather overlay for your Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) or use supplemental weather sources, accurate information that also comes with routing advice can be invaluable.
Why do you need exceptional weather information?
Seems obvious, doesn’t it? No one likes to be seasick or bounced around a cabin no matter how luxurious it is, but there are other considerations above and beyond passenger and crew comfort.
The weather can be capricious and disaster can strike whether you are in port or at sea. In October 2018 over 200 yachts were devastated by heavy rain, high winds and waves that were 10 metres tall, while Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean and left a trail of destroyed superyachts and devastated communities in her wake. Super typhoon Mangkhut wreaked havoc in the Far East in September 2018 with extensive damage to many yachts.
Good weather information can make the difference to being caught in the middle of a significant storm or safely avoiding it and the potential for damage and injury to the passengers and crew.
What weather services are available?
When the comfort and safety of both the vessel and passengers are at stake the cost of accurate weather information is less relevant. However, there are some varied options, from free weather services to navigation management specialists.
The Met Office in the UK provides a high seas forecast and the US has the National Weather Service that covers its coastal waters.
Online weather for the Far East, Australasia and the Mediterranean can be accessed through a number of providers like Accuweather and World Weather Online which offer forecast up to 14 days ahead and historic data.
There are a number of free apps and services that provide reliable weather forecasts and warnings. This information, though useful, is similar to the weather information that most captains will have as an overlay on their ECDIS.
To access more detailed information, personalised forecasts for your anticipated route and weather routing, you could consider a premium service.
The premium services are provided by professional meteorologist’s and include weather routing as well as forecasting services.
Weather routing is the art and science of designing the best route for your superyacht based on the current weather, the yacht’s characteristics and prevailing ocean currents. Weather routing provides you with an optimum route that blends minimum transit time, passenger comfort and safety whilst minimising the risk of weather damage and human injury.
This type of premium service will also monitor your superyacht in real time and suggest alternate routes if the weather or sea conditions change. These services operate 24/7, 365 days a year and offer a direct telephone service with a trained meteorologist to discuss options in detail.
This type of premium service isn’t a cheap option. Prices for routing between Europe and the Caribbean, for example, would be around £350 for a single trip. These costs are offset to an extent by improved fuel consumption and reduced transit times. Additionally, over time routed ships can benefit from a reduction in insurance premiums which further reduces the overall cost.
Navigation management specialists, such as ChartCo, offer updated weather overlays and routing services for the yacht navigation system, providing up to date information at all times. This software can provide 2-day, 5-day or 9-day forecasts, displaying future weather conditions in 1-hour increments, making it easy for the user to see when the weather window opens up, or closes down. The software will also automatically re-reroute a yacht to avoid weather parameters that breech the yacht’s specific weather limits. All of this planning information is then carried through to the IMO approved passage plan, so the bridge officer does not waste time consolidating all the information from different sources.
Good information = Predictable outcomes
Good, accurate weather information is only a part of the picture that a superyacht captain has to consider when they are cruising inshore waters or planning to relocate their vessel to a different part of the world. However, it can be the decisive piece especially as the weather can be unpredictable, quickly changing a safe trip into a hazardous journey.
Weather routing is the enhanced version of a detailed weather forecast that helps you protect the valuable assets you’re in charge of, from the owner and their guests to the luxury vessel and its crew.
It gives you an edge that could be crucial in ensuring a successful trip.