Thursday, 22 July 2010

Net Gains... or, Give a Little, Take a Little

French Polynesia to Niue, Day 2. Position 16 45S, 154 03W
Weather forecasting in the South Pacific is a challenge. We obtain Weather from a number of sources and get opinions from other cruisers. Everyone has an opinion on the weather around these parts and given how variable it is you stand a good chance of being right some of the time.
The weather charts show a cold front coming our way. We have been on the lookout for it all day after a report this morning that an ominous cloud bank is building to our West. Yesterday and today we have had light winds from the ENE and relatively flat seas. It would be nice to have a little more wind so that we can sail a little faster, but let's hope not too much wind.
There are a number of boats in our area, some heading north to Suwarrow, some to the Southern Cooks and Tonga. It's comforting to know through the morning net that we are not out here alone and it could be helpful to hear what conditions others are experiencing. Since the Marquesas, we've been checking in with the Polynesian Breakfast Net on 8164 SSB. 7:30AM on 8164 started with Whiskers wanting to keep in touch with us as well as Emily Grace and word got around to the point where a net evolved. Steve on Dignity organized everyone into a helpful and widespread net. In response perhaps to the difficulty in getting reliable weather information and in particular the unreliability of the grib files, Jack on Whoosh took on the job of Principal Weather Guesser. He's since recruited another three or four Guessers who collect information from various sources including Nadi Weather Map, Fiji Fleet Codes, NOAA, New Zealander Bob McDavitt's weekly newsletter, French Polynesian Weather and GRIB files. It turns out that the models used for the GRIB files have difficulty predicting the wind in the South Pacific so a prediction of light winds is not always reliable.
Organized nets rely on controllers to facilitate. Trish has been helping once a week with the Polynesian net. Our experience has been that if you put yourself out for the greater good, you give a little and you typically get a lot more back from the organized nets. When boats check in to the net they are not just reporting their position, which could be useful if they should find themselves in difficulty later on. They're also providing on the spot wind and sea conditions that could help others in their wake. Cruisers also share information about anchorages, services, etc. on the net. We all gain from being involved.

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