Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Most sailors are aware, or would be if ever they gave it a thought, that there exist private weather services which will tell you when to depart for a blue water voyage. During the voyage these services will, all for a hefty fee, advise you on your best route. Surprisingly, though, the best North Atlantic weather routing is provided free by . . . Herb.

Known to sailors on both sides of the pond as simply Herb, Herb Hilgenberg lives in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, a long way from tidewater. Since 1987, strictly as a hobby, Herb has provided daily ship routing and weather service ("South Bound II VAX 498 Net")  to anyone who calls in on 12.359 megahertz. He'll provide each yacht with a five day route forecast, and advice on avoiding bad weather, and he'll update this data each day. It's no regurgitation of officially produced material, either, but his learned interpretation of several numerical models, among other input. All he asks in return is a report of wind, sea state, barometric pressure, and other local observations. He provides this service like clockwork, and in doing so has won the great esteem of hundreds of sailors, as well as the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal  for his role in many mid-ocean rescues.

As Herb says on sign off: "Have a good watch."

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