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Old 07-19-2001
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What makes a good Barometer?

I want to replace my barometer with a good accurate barometer. What type/specifications should I be looking for? They are priced all over the range so its probably not going to be "the more expensive, the better."
Thanks for your comments.
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Old 02-07-2009
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I have the same question...anybody?
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Old 02-08-2009
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Wow, because you asked, I guess we'll ignore that the last time the question came up, there were still twin towers standing in NYC.

If you coastal or daysail, you don't necessarily need more than a cheap barometer that can be calibrated to a known source, like a nearby weather station or airport. Keep in mind that if you are inland or Great Lakes sailing, you have to calibrate your barometer to the local altitude...some sources report "sea level pressure", which is not the pressure on the Great Lakes, nor is it up the side of a hill somewhere.

For those who for reasons of personal interest, expanding their seamanship, or because they are going to be sailing long passages without being able to receive info from weather buoys or synoptic charts, a recording barometer becomes very helpful. This can be analog or electric, paper roller (old style, but gives you a graph more or less continuously), or digital display.

I have aboard a now-discounted Speedtech barometer: Speedtech WeatherMate Barometer

It gives me 24 hours of readings, which is enough to track weather at a distance as well as weather that's bearing down. Basically, sharp drops or sharp rises portend wind (not always true, but frequently the case); high pressure means light winds, fair weather, and low pressure can mean dirty weather or just rain. Knowing the speed at which the pressure is changing can, with experience, tell you how near or far a storm is, how fast it is likely moving, and whether it will push the boat nicely, or is a reason to batten down.

I also have a Suunto sports watch that has a recording barometer with a three-hour trend interval, although I can manually record readings at any point. I use this frequently during periods of changeable weather to determine if it is likely to rain by a certain point in the near future. Practice and you can get better than the weather people, but only in a local sense.

Combine these instruments with looking at clouds, currents, sea state and so on, and you are essentially a one-person weather station with maybe a 50 square mile "forecast area". This is not always necessary if you can receive local or "custom" forecasting...but forecasting is an educated guess, and you are the one actually in the weather.
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The only thing I'd add to Valient's excellent comments is that barometers have reached the point in their technological evolution that you basically get what you pay for. If you want a durable piece of equipment that will last a lifetime or longer you'll pay commensurately more than for one that might fall apart after a few years.
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Nasa Marine also produces a barograph: Nasa Marine Instruments Limited

I have no experience with that unit, but their products are widely used here and in the UK..
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Weems & Plath makes a digital barometer: Weems Plath Nautical Products; Commercial Grade Marine Navigation Tools and Gifts for Boating Enthusiasts

I've seen it for about $150. It has tracking graphs to look back at trends and alarms to warn of sudden drops in pressure.
We bought the original version (not available now) for about $70 as recommended by Larry Dashew. Works well so far.
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Weems & Plath

I have one on my boat. I like it so much I bought a second for home.
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Thanks so much for the replies fellas.....I'm not an offshore sailor (yet), so I don't require anything extremely fancy or expensive. I'm mostly interested in learning about weather and being able to observe first hand how the changes in weather correlate with changes in barometric measurement.
Really, the only thing that is really important is reasonable accuracy. A logging feature would be nice too. Too bad the Speedtek is discontinued, that looks like it would do the trick economically. I like the look of the Nasa unit as well but will have to look into whether they can be gotten in North America. The Weems units are easily gotten here, so I'll have to browse their products a bit more. It's nice to hear that they come recommended.
Thanks again for taking the time to reply.
Regards
Randy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailaway21 View Post
The only thing I'd add to Valient's excellent comments is that barometers have reached the point in their technological evolution that you basically get what you pay for. If you want a durable piece of equipment that will last a lifetime or longer you'll pay commensurately more than for one that might fall apart after a few years.
Why do you think they discontinued that Speedtech model? It eats only 4 AAs per year, and I got for $35 from a PSC 34 owner who was getting too old to sail!

It's like somebody made it durable and accurate by mistake!
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