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Useful Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why use a weather consultant such as Holden Meteorological Services for custom forecasts?

A: There are basically three choices for forecasts for mariners:

  • The marine forecast provided by the government weather office.
  • Computer modeled forecasts available either for free of for a fee on the Internet.
  • Hire a private weather services such as HMS to provide a tailor made forecast for you.

The problem with government forecasts is the scale and details. They view the weather at the synoptic scale ( the size of weather systems, 100's to 1000's of miles) while to mariners the weather over a few miles is important (mesoscale) and for inshore racers differences are measured in meters or boatlengths.
It is not in their mandate or training to forecast down to this required level of detail. On top of this, government forecasters are forced by procedure not to include as much information as they may wish.
When it comes to computer modeled data, even high resolution data, meteorologists refer to this as numerical guidance, as it is a useful tool that is part of a suite of tools that go into preparing a forecast. It must be stressed that weather models of any type are unverified by a trained forecaster and very prone to errors, often when it is most important. This leaves custom a weather forecaster as the best position to meet your forecast needs.

Q: How are the forecasts sent?
A: The forecasts are most commonly sent out as email attachments but can be delivered in various other methods such as by low bandwidth email for satellite communications, fax, and condensed versions for mobile phones including sms. Voice delivery by phone and skype are also available.

Q: How can I contact Holden Meteorological Services?
A: Please see the Contact page of this website for the most up to date information.

Q: Is HMS available to take me on as a client?
A: At HMS we are dedicated to providing the very best service to our clients. This extra level of care requires that during busy times we limit the number of clients we take on with the consequence that we are not always able to take on new clients. To avoid disappointment, the best solution is to contact us early so we can schedule you in. Once booked, you have our commitment that you will receive our best possible service.

Q: What information should I provide to the forecaster to get the best possible forecast?
A: We need to know what a sucessful trip is to you. Is it a record passage time, comfortable conditions were no one feels queasy, a lack of motoring? Anything you can tell us about yourself, your crew, and your boat that would help us understand your requirements for success. Things such as deadlines, motoring range, crew experience, and boat performance in a range of conditions and angles of sailing are all very important to us. These are all useful things to have on file and is worth preparing ahead of time. Don't feel shy about sharing with us, in this case you can't give us too much information.

Q: What questions should I ask of a forecaster?
A: Before you agree to use a private forecaster, make sure you ask if they have sufficient time available to give your project the necessary attention. A forecaster can only prepare a limited amount of top quality products in a given amount of time and it is unfortunate that there is a temptation to take on more projects than can by handled, leading to some projects getting inferior service or being given to a junior forecaster. At HMS we are committed to never taking on more work than we can fulfill while maintaining our own rigorous standards. That is our commitment to you.

Q: Method of Payment?
A: Following receipt of the agreed upon services, an invoice will be sent to you by email giving you the option to submit your payment via Paypal using you bank account or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express). Payment can also me made via wire transfer, please contact us for the details.

Q: How can I learn more about weather for mariners?
A: Holden Meteorological Services offers a range of weather seminars and lectures, which we would be more than happy to discuss with you. You can also check with you local Power and Sail Squadron to see what courses they have on offer. There are many great reference books on marine weather. Some of my favorite include:

Weather at Sea, and Wind Strategy — David Houghton
Meteo & Strategie — Jean-Yves Bernot (French only)
High Performance Sailing — Frank Bethwaite
The Sailor's Wind — Stuart Walker
Mariners's Weather Handbook — Steve & Linda Dashew




© Holden Meteorological Services 2009