bal wind and wave forecast data for VOSS are provided through a partnership with Oceanweather, Inc.14
Weather routers provide specialized forecasts for sailors and also will provide weather updates and suggested course changes during a voyage. They can supply a detailed weather outlook for the area to be sailed. For example, in 2001 I sailed in Dreams to Isla Guadalupe (Mexico), an island that is 150 nautical miles offshore from Baja California at 29 degrees north latitude. Since my two crew members (Russell Spencer and Erik Oistad) had been with me on a previous attempt when we altered our plans due to bad weather and never made it to the island, Erik suggested that this time we make use of a weather routing service. We were also concerned because two weeks earlier Hurricane Juliette had hammered Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja California. We selected weather router Rick Shema and told him our destination and expected departure date. A few days before we were ready to sail, he advised that the weather looked favorable and gave us a report on what we could expect to encounter. Periodically we advised him by e-mail (over the single sideband radio) of actual conditions, and he gave us an updated forecast halfway through the two-week trip. Also, as part of his service, he monitored conditions along our route and was prepared to contact us by e-mail if bad weather was headed our way. We had good weather during the entire trip, but it was reassuring to know that we had recourse to a second opinion if the weather deteriorated.15
While preparing this book I called Shema and asked him if he thought it possible to include extreme wave warnings in his forecasts. After some research he said: “It might be possible by incorporating some indices relating wave steepness to the wave spectrum, and then introducing additional wave parameters into wave forecast models, to identify ocean areas with greater probability of extreme wave formation. The marine forecaster routing ships could then alert the vessel to the possible risks and offer alternative routing to avoid high-risk areas. More research is necessary before this can be done routinely. Forecasting the timing and location of individual extreme waves is unlikely due to the randomness and complexity involved in their formation.” Knowing Shema, I suspect it is just a matter of time before he’ll come up with an extreme wave advisory service for his customers.