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S/V Sabbatical
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Discussion Starter #1
I am planning to cruise the thorny path after hurricane season on my Pearson 365.

How do cruisers get weather forecasts in the Caribbean? I am wondering in particular if I can do this safely without an SSB. Can I use the VHF and FM for forecasts? Purchasing and installing an SSB is something I don't have the experience or budget for.
 

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I'd rather be sailing
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Most weather is via the SSB, and the most popular forecaster for the Caribbean is Chris Parker who does an SSB net at 7 different times on different frequencies each morning. You can listen to him fr free, or you can pay $300/year (there are lesser packages) and talk to him over the radio about your routing. We've been using him and he's invaluable. More information is here - Carib WX - Caribbean Weather Information.

I would not cruise the Caribbean without an SSB. Most nets, except ones immediately local to the harbor or island you're on, are going to be on the SSB. Also, from an emergency perspective, you do not have the USCG listening on the VHF in the Caribbean like you do in the US. You need the SSB to make emergency calls. I would definitely put it on my list of must-haves for cruising. Sorry.
 

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While I agree with Labatt about the usefulness of SSB/Ham radio while cruising - you can even send/rec'v emails this way nowadays - To get the Caribbean weather reports it is only necessary to have a shortwave receiver, and the list of frequencies and time for the reports.

Chris's daily reports are informative and quite enjoyable even just to listen to... and were a part of our daily routine each morning. The other must-listen was "George" in St Croix - good data, free to us at the time but I expect you can subscribe to more complete service from him too.

We can also vouch for the fact that outside of harbours few boats or stations listen to VHF - esp 16.
 

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S/V Sabbatical
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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks Labatt and Faster... I will definately purchase an SSB reciever, but there is no way I'll be able to justify the tranciever. I'll look into a sat phone for real emergencies. They seem to be cheaper than SSB's now.

I enjoy your blog Labatt. I can't wait to get down there.
 

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Nasa Target HF/w Receiver

Click Here

Just one option. I used it for 5 + years and it was great. Use back stay as the antenna. With the current state of the UK pound the price is good ($200+). Try to not pay the Value Added tax if exporting to the US.

Get the weatherfax one and you can download weatherfax to your PC.


 

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I cruised Cuba to Grenada for four seasons on a VHF, a Grundig receiver and my laptop downloading GRB files while scabbing wi-fi. I found Chris Parker to be very conservative. He is not always heard. The joke joke always was that someone said they couldn't receive him that morning and a host of cruisers would, "was it 6 oclock Chris or 7 oclock Chris? Did you turn the fridge off? Were you leaning out hte companionway with your tongue hanging out?

Weather below the Bahamas is imperfect. The good thing is that once down there, 25 knots is normal, 30 is breezy and 35 is a good day not to go to wind. The islands are 6 hours apart except for a few overnighters. Get a great SSB receiver (no license required), your VHF with a mast mounted antenna goes further than you think. We called in an emergency for a cruiser between Antigua and St. Barts and Guadeloupe picked us up without problems and St. Thomas was heard as well.

If you mean southbound when you refer to the thorny path, and you are in N. America, go south from Marathon to Varadero Cuba. Get Calder's cruising guide and go around the south ide of Cuba, jump over to Ils la Vache and then DR. Mona is a quick overnighter and then you're there.

Forget what the American's say, go to Cuba. It's not the thorny path, in fact it's a breeze. In years to come it will be the only way to get to the Virgins and the the Windwards. Do not worry too much about getting everything perfect, you'll end up not going. We had no liferaft and kept getting guilt from fellow cruisers. Our dinghy was twice as strong, always ready and never needed repacking by someone that pretended to be qualified.

Sail off young man and report back. I would like to know how much you enjoyed Cayo Largo?
 
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