Twelve years ago, Erica and I were in mid Atlantic, sailing homeward somewhere between the Virgin Islands and the Azores - 35 degrees 46'N 39 degrees 49'W to be precise.
Every evening we would tune the radio and listen to Herb Hilgenberg. Herb, a Canadian, provides weather information via SSB radio to yachts in transit across the Atlantic, bound for Europe. Herb is remarkable, spending several hours every evening to relay individual weather information to yachts, forecasting the next 24 hours.
As you can see from the photo things could change quite quickly.
Since we only had an SSB receiver, we couldn’t talk to Herb, but by tuning in and listening for the yachts positions we could track those who were close by (within 100 NM or less) and get a very good picture of the weather conditions we might expect. It was however a time consuming and tiring process. Herb would be on air for two or three hours each evening, so while the first watch (Erica) went off for a rest, I would be tuning in and plotting the position of each yacht as it came up on Herb’s call. No less tiring for Herb who does this every evening.
Nor is it as simple as following the same boats. One might be close one day, but take a more northerly or southerly course; others were much faster than our yacht -Blue Clipper. One particular Australian yacht was exactly on our track, but she was an ex racing yacht and fast, they were covering 200 NM a day compared to our 100 and were soon out of useful range.
We were just so grateful for such fantastic weather information and guidance, it’s a shame we didn’t have a transmitter so we could thank him.
So Herb, this is a belated and very sincere thanks. As you like to say "Have a good watch"
Hayward Book Shop
2 hours ago