What is vessel routing?
Vessel routing is the art of developing the “best route” for a vessel based on the wind forecasts, vessel characteristics and ocean currents. The goal is not to avoid all adverse weather but to find the best balance for a swift ocean crossing without placing the vessel at risk or going too far off course.
The shortest route is not always the fastest route, for example the shortest route across the Atlantic Ocean East to West risks missing out on the trade winds which could add several days or even weeks on to your crossing. However, if the short route is blessed with good weather, you could be set up for a very fast crossing indeed. It’s important to discuss with us before starting your row what your expectations are for the route and understand the pros and cons of each option.
If you are taking part in a race, we can also give you information about the statistics within the race, how you are faring against other boats and tactics to gain race advantages. No matter if you are racing or taking on your own independent row, it is again important to discuss with us your goals. Rowers wanting to win or break records will be given different routing advice to those wishing to take on the challenge as an expedition rather than a race. No matter what your goal is, never under estimate the huge challenge you are taking on.
Weather predictions are just that ’predictions’ so you won’t be getting an exact minute by minute account of the wind for the next 4 weeks. You will however, have an accurate wind forecast of that day and the following days wind direction and speed. Forward of that you will be given a good idea of the general trend of the weather and a long term forecast of any large weather systems coming through which will have a significant effect on your passage.
The majority of your information will be about the wind, but will also include wave direction and height.
Apart from at the start and finish it is unlikely you will be given waypoints to follow. This is because your route will be dictated by the wind, to follow a set of waypoints may mean you miss on some good following winds in exchange for keeping a strict route.
Remember we can’t change the weather only forecast it so don’t shoot the messenger!!
You will be sent one email per day between 9am and 10am UT. The morning email will contain a forecast of expected storm tracks, an initial route proposal with reasoning behind the recommendation and also the expected wind conditions to be encountered for the next 48hrs. The email will also contain race tactics and race information if required.
Once you have your information if you want to clarify anything please feel free to call via your satellite phone. In fact, you can call any time during the day (or night in an emergency) for any kind of advice at all. The routing package includes daily contact to ask for advice about anything you need help with from power issues to help setting up your auto helm. There is no set limit on the number of times you can call, but we do ask you to keep the calls to a reasonable amount.
If you do not have an email system set up then we can vessel route via the satellite phone. This has worked well with previous customers, but you will need to be prepared to take notes which is not always easy on board an Ocean Rowing boat.
Where does our weather information come from?
Ocean weather is not as easy as turning on the TV and waiting until after the news has finished. There are many different methods of obtaining ocean forecasts including apps, software and websites. The real skill is being able to interpret the information into a format that can be used to suggest a course to steer making the best use of weather available and avoiding future adverse weather where possible. Because of this your forecast will not be a copy and paste from another source, it will be a personal report for you in your current position produced by us.
Two boats taking part in the same ocean crossing who are 200nm apart could have a very different forecast and require very different support and advice, so no two reports will be the same.
Dawn Wood has 16 years working in the maritime environment commercially and teaches the subject of weather within various courses such as RYA Yacht master.
What we need from you?
Before you set off you must make sure that you give us all methods you have aboard of contacting you. In particular your email address and satellite phone number. You should also consider sharing a friend or family members contact details. Previous customers have been extremely grateful to be included in the weather routing information as it gave them a better understanding of why certain decisions were being made and felt more of a part of it.
Will you be helping other teams?
We will only take on one boat from each category within a race. This mean only one solo, one pairs and so on. This way we are able to offer race tactical advice without the risk of any conflict of interest. Each team will be given the best advice to help them achieve their goals.
Our vessel routing service costs £2,000 for an Atlantic Ocean crossing from the Canaries to the Caribbean. If you are looking at other routes please contact us for a quote.
The cost remains the same no matter if your crossing takes 30 days or 100 days. This gives you peace of mind that no matter what, you will have support at all times.
The cost does not include assistance at the start line in person. If you would like us to join you at the start of your row to help set up this will be an additional cost to cover expenses.