Despite writing software for my own SMS weather service covering the East Atlantic, I still found myself checking sites such as windfinder and windguru whenever I was in port.
This was because I was sailing along the coast and the GRIB data used for my system produces data points for the high seas. Along the coast of Portugal and the Rias of Spain the data started at about 10 degrees longitude west. Good enough, but not perfect.
My solution was to make windguru coastal data available via sms.
Here is how to obtain it. Send a text message in the format:
to the usual Belgian number +32498327494
This will return approximately two days worth of wind and wave data as two separate text messages for the city of La Coruna. Due to the limits of text messaging, precipitation and cloud cover are not included.
The list of data points that can be used is currently as follows (I’ll add more soon):
Obviously you replace coruna (in the example given above) with the data point from this list that interests you. Note that only lower case letters are used.
The data returned looks like this (but with many lines):
Su20 11.6 15 2.3 13
The first two letters are the day of the week
The next two digits are the time for the forecast (in 24hr format)
Wind speed in knots to 1 decimal point
Wind direction compass rose. 0 is north 4 is East 8 is South and 12 West
Wave height in meters to 1 decimal point
Wave direction compass rose
So for Sunday at 20:00 hours the wind will be 11.6kts from the NNW. Wave height will be 2.3m and the swell will be from the WNW.
Hope it helps!
If it does and you care to help me pay for the SMS bills, be sure to press the donate button on my homepage at www.ifno.info
Just 5 miles west of Barbate I found myself sailing around the many shoals off Cape Trafalgar. Yes, this is the site of the famous, or infamous, (presumably depending on your nationality), 1805 naval battle between Villeneuve and Nelson.
I’d checked my almanac and Imray pilot to time the departure for a complementary tidal stream, but after an hour of speeding west at 7.5kts I realized my northerly stream was not altogether northerly! If only the disclaimer printed beneath the tidal stream extract was given more prominence, I might not have taken it as gospel. Lesson learnt.
The wind was now gusting to twice that predicted in the “windguru.com” and “windfinder.com” web site forecasts and the direction was anything but favourable. I was obviously in for another rough trip. A brief glance at the brevity of my ships log (one entry 6hrs after departure) is testament to this.
So why was I stubbornly heading North toward the bay of Cadiz instead of just heading out to sea on a direct route to Portugal?
For several reasons:
Firstly, I found it was difficult to trust the weather forecasts for one day, let alone the two to three that I’d need for a longer leg;
I also wanted to take advantage of the promise of smoother seas further north (clearly shown in my weather forecasts an example of which is posted above).
A degree of wanting to play tourist also had to be taken into consideration.
Ugly but functional
By sunset I was bouncing my way into the bay of Cadiz. No torn mainsail this time, but the bronze rail at the end of my boom (tensioning the mainsail), was dramatically ripped from its fastenings. For now, I have decided to do without it, and have come up with this (see photo) elegant solution. OK, I’ll admit it isn’t pretty, but it does work!
Of Rota, I saw nothing but the refueling pontoon by night. Fascinating. So much for the argument of heading north to play tourist. 🙂