Guidance Counselor

Weather Router Walt Hack
Guidance Counselor
Weather router Walt Hack steers mariners clear of troubled waters.

By Tim Clark — July 2001
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: Weather Routers
• Part 2: Weather Routers
• Part 3: Weather Routers

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Having circumnavigated the globe on the 70-foot Zopilote and gone on to further exploits aboard the 64-foot Spirit of Zopilote, Bruce Kessler is doubtless an accomplished skipper. Even so, during almost every passage of significant length, he solicits professional advice when it comes to the weather.

"I called Walt from Cabo, and he told me, `Just wait,'" Kessler says of his last trip up the Pacific coast of the Baja Peninsula. "So I waited. Those first 150 miles from Cabo to Magdelena Bay are notorious. You hardly ever get a correct general forecast. That first day, three or four people off other boats heading north came by and asked me when I was going. I told them I was waiting for good weather. Every day somebody would give it a try and then limp back, all beat up. They'd say, `It looked flat calm at midnight, then all of a sudden we just got the shit kicked out of us. How did you know it was no good?' After four days I finally got the go-ahead from Walt. I spread the word, and we left that night and had a good trip up. After we reached San Diego, every one of those other boats came and found me and thanked me once they got in. And I kept having to say to them, `Don't thank me. You have to thank Walt Hack. I just go when he says go and don't go when he says don't.' And those guys just couldn't understand that there was someone sitting in a house in New Jersey who was telling me when that stretch from Cabo to Mag Bay was going to flatten out. They just couldn't believe it."

Hack is a marine meteorologist and oceanographer who for more than 30 years has practiced the rarefied art of weather routing. His client base numbers in the hundreds, and on any given day a forecast he crafts in his Scotch Plains, New Jersey, office can reach halfway around the globe to a pinpoint on a chart indicating a boat whose progress he may have been following for months or even years. His message may simply be a synopsis of the weather the skipper should expect that day, or it could be a warning of a developing low-pressure system accompanied by a course change he believes will keep the boat out of harm's way. If the skipper has any questions, he's free to phone, fax, or e-mail Hack at any time.

Next page > Weather Routers continued > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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