I received an early Christmas present yesterday. A 50% off offer on a subscription to PredictWind arrived in my inbox. For three days only, the $199 annual subscription was reduced to only $99. Since I had already decided this was something we definitely wanted before departing for our Life On The Hook™, it was a no-brainer.
What is PredictWind? Well, if you’re not familiar with it, it’s an awesome web based utility that gives detailed weather and condition reports for planning coastal and open ocean passages. Wind speed and direction, sea state, swell height and direction, GRIB files (basically downloadable weather predictions), rain predictions, and much much more. But what really attracted me to it is its ability to do route and departure planning based on the predicted weather. You basically plug in where you are and where you want to go, along with what type of boat you’re sailing (it actually uses your boat’s polar diagrams, which you’ll understand if you’re a sailor) and it gives you recommendations on the best days and times to make the trip, the route you’ll need to sail, and predicts the conditions you’ll encounter along the way.
I’d previously signed up for the limited free edition, which is how I ended up on their Christmas gift list. That version doesn’t offer the detailed planning tools, just the local weather predictions. So when I updated, I naturally had to immediately check to see what it would say about a leap from Pensacola to Tampa, which is a possible first leg on our upcoming adventure. And here’s what it said (you should be able to click on the picture to enlarge it):
If we left this afternoon, the recommended route (in blue) would follow along Florida’s coastline, avoiding an offshore passage. This would be a route that would be a more comfortable first leg for us, rather than heading a hundred miles offshore as departing on Day 3 would require.
Drilling further into the data, the program predicted the following:
If we left this afternoon, the passage should take 1.7 days, or about 41 hours. The maximum wind we would encounter should be 14 knots and we’d spend most of the time reaching (a comfortable sail) rather than pointing (beating upwind).
Holy cow. That’s perfect. Let’s go!!!!!
Oh wait, we’re not ready yet. Sigh. Well, at least I can play with this over the next few months, comparing its predictions with observed conditions. How accurate is it? Ask me in a couple of months. I can’t help but be impressed by the testimonials on their site, though.
Thanks for the early Christmas present, PredictWind!