Meteorological forecasts and wave predictions have come a long way in improving accuracy and the increased forecast period. With this has evolved quick and cheap delivery of data and advice. On board weather routeing systems are becoming common place with a number of systems now available. Much can be gained by the end user (ship staff) viewing the graphic representations that can be produced by overlaying the ship’s proposed passage and selecting the options available for safety, speed or comfort. The down side of this can be:
1. Familiarity with the system deployed.
2. Knowledge and experience of interpreting the data
3. Time available for planning the passage
The latter failing may be the most crucial.
The time to assess the forecasts and select a suitable route is a day or two prior to departure from the final port. This enables the designated ‘router’ to view the options through a number of successive computer ‘forecast-runs’ to see the consistency of the output product.
This is usually at a time when the crew member is probably at their busiest with cargo working and other shipboard duties. It is also likely that they have recently joined the ship and not seen the on-board system before so also need time to become familiar with it.
This is where the shore based routeing service comes in to its own.