By Ben Ellison
C-Forecast Plotter Weather
C-Map is also introducing a new weather service. Like the products discussed in the column, C-Forecast can overlay weather info right onto a plotter screen, only instead of the broadband and expense of dedicated satellite, this service works on compact data bundles that you download via cellphone. Most current plotters from Sitex, Interphase, and Standard Horizon are already programmed to display C-Forecast; all you need is a cable and a subscription, priced by the download or unlimited (see www.c-map.com for details). Data for the whole East Coast and Caribbean can currently be had via GSM-type phones; West Coast forecasts and satellite phone downloads are in the works. The service also comes with a copy of Liberty PC software, which was created by C-Map’s weather partner Nowcasting and can show the same data downloaded via the Internet. That’s what I tested. Nowcasting only provides wind speed and direction, along with wave height, for up to 48 hours. But the predictions, modeled by computer every six hours, are resolved to about 15 miles in one-hour steps and seem darn accurate. I compared them with actual weather buoy conditions and usually found them on-the-money, except sometimes during major frontal passages. The presentation is also clear and innovative, synchronizing the predictions with your speed and course. Change either and you’ll instantly see how it might affect your ride several hours down the road. It will be interesting to see how these features are worked out on the various plotters, not to mention what other benefits might eventually evolve from a phone/plotter relationship, like chart updates, even e-mail.
C-Map Phone: (800) 424-2627. www.c-map.com.
This article originally appeared in the July 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.