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Modern Marine Weather - From Time Honored Maritime Traditions to the Latest Technologyby David Burch
Synopses & Reviews
"No subject is more important to every sailor than the wind and its direction. Modern Marine Weather is first class reference book on the subject of marine weather and the information it contains will help every sailor, every day!"
— Peter Isler, two-time America's Cup winning navigator.
The 21st Century is bringing us a rapid evolution in weather information available to the common sailor. Modern Marine Weather points out where to find the best stuff quickly. The book also gives a thorough review of how to read weather maps and digest storms warnings, as well as tips on how to read clouds and use the wind to win coastal yacht races, or how to interpret GRIB data and Scatterometer pilot charts on Google Earth to sail comfortably across an ocean.
"Modern Marine Weather is an instant classic. If you own one book about weather this is it. If you are navigating across the Pacific, the Atlantic or the Equator you’ll make better decisions and truly understand the machinery behind the wind, waves, and currents after studying this book. If you are preparing for an Olympic regatta in Melbourne, Weymouth or San Francisco and want to make your own intelligent forecast and pick-up local knowledge like a local, you will find all the information in this most excellent book. Serious about weather and navigation: Get Modern Marine Weather by David Burch."
"David Burch's Modern Marine Weather is a fresh and practical guide to understanding the complexities of marine weather and modern forecasting. Directed at both offshore and coastal sailors, it goes beyond much of the current literature to first explain modern forecasting technologies with less emphasis on weather theory. According to Burch, it's only with an understanding of these technologies that mariners can purposefully apply the ever increasing amount of meteorological data available to them. Burch explains how to use weather charts and how to interpret GRIB forecasts—including a discussion of their values and drawbacks. He discusses how to compare various computer models, discusses new and existing onboard technology and record keeping, and provides comprehensive lists of weather resources, and much more. The book fills a serious void in the literature. Voyagers will profit from a serious study of the material discussed in this book."
"Modern Marine Weather is an essential reference for the coastal and offshore sailor. It goes far beyond the traditional "marine weather" books. There may be new tools available for weather forecasting, but weather itself has been around a very long time and David does an excellent job of laying proper foundations for understanding marine weather, and bringing clarity to a complex topic."
"Modern Marine Weather like “Brave New World”…takes a bold step forward and takes on today’s challenges of the complexities of weather over the marine environment. This text is unique and is a sorely needed and powerful upgrade to existing marine weather resources currently on the market! I strongly endorse this text as an invaluable resource that belongs in the wheelhouse along side of Bowditch as a mariner’s reference on marine weather."
"This is the definitive text for those wanting to learn more about marine meteorology. It's a shame that this book wasn't around when I was studying marine meteorology. It would have made the job a lot easier. David Burch should be applauded for this beautiful piece of work"
"Burch really knows his stuff and Blue Water Sailing thinks that his book has a place in every nav station."
"Modern Marine Weather is a brand new and truly extraordinary 304 page “treatise” on an age old subject. Indeed, “treatise” in the classic definition of that word fully applies: “a systematic discussion of facts and principles with inescapable and unquestionable conclusions.” It is accompanied by a 68 page companion: Weather Workbook, with questions, answers and resources on marine weather. These two works are much more than the term “treatise” would, standing by itself, imply, however. In addition to the facts, principles and scientific conclusions expertly revealed in layman’s terms within their respective pages, these two works constitute a truly complete and insightful guide to the numerous new computer-based resources that are now available in the marine weather field, and David has done an outstanding job of comparing and explaining these independent resources, web-sites, downloads, etc.
He has taken much of the otherwise inevitable “mystery” out of any listing of or reference to these resources by explaining what each of them provides and how they may be most useful to various users with greatly differing needs. He has also paved the way for the legions of mariners who are not at all “computer savvy,” and who are perhaps apprehensive that their own personal digital age skills are either non-existent or rudimentary at best. There is a great deal of focus that is not at all dependent upon or related to ownership of a computer and knowledge of how to use one. Many portions of these works will appeal to the “seat of the pants” navigator as well as to those with the most sophisticated approaches to maritime voyaging. And, speaking from the personal standpoint of one with over 50 years experience operating sail and power vessels on oceans and inland waters, and of piloting various aircraft, this new work should appeal to airplane pilots and navigators who operate at the lower and intermediate altitudes, as well as the navigators who are water-borne. Modern Marine Weather and its accompanying Workbook should be of central interest to every NAVIGATOR, whether he or she is an old salt with a sextant, a dead reckoning sailor, or a fully computer savvy skipper whose helm station includes a full set of digital age charts. These are two volumes that should be at the navigation station of every responsible ocean sailor, Intracoastal Waterway, or river mariner, and every mariner who plies any of the great fresh water lakes anywhere in the world.
David Burch’s “style” is neither dry nor confusing. He has woven into his text fascinating historical facts that many 21st Century mariners may not know. Just one example: Robert FitzRoy is famous as the captain of HMS Beagle, which carried Charles Darwin throughout the Pacific, but he is not widely known as “the father of marine weather,” who was the first to make weather forecasts, the first to compile synoptic charts, the first to advocate the posting of storm warnings at docks, and he played a key role in the development of standardized and rugged marine barometers. Those are but of few of his personal accomplishments.
The Burch style is also anything but confusing. It is clear, very well thought-out in terms of the sequence of his topics, and replete with successful efforts to explain in layman’s terms the reasons why and how the many weather phenomena occur. Burch will be read and enjoyed by scientists, meteorologists, yachtsmen, and armchair sailors alike, and Modern Marine Weather is destined to become a much thumbed reference work, deserving a place along side of Bowditch, Ocean Passages for the World, and the works of Jimmy Cornell and others.
Burch will be appreciated by both Northern and Southern Hemisphere mariners, because he clearly explains why and how the weather systems in the two hemispheres differ and why they differ at various latitudes from the Equator to the Poles. In the judgment of this reviewer, he does a remarkably clear job of explaining the Coriolis effect of the Earth’s rotation from west to east, the differences between west and east coast weather systems of continental land masses, the mid-ocean weather systems, the reasons for the differential heating of water and land masses by the sun, with the consequent effects on wind, wave and weather patterns, and the consequent selection of sailing routes and mid-course, real time adjustment of sailing routes at various times of the year, in various oceans and latitudes.
David’s eight main sections deal, consecutively, with: Pressure and the Wind; Global Winds and Currents; Strong Wind Systems; Clouds, Fog, and Sea State; Wind and Terrain; Weather Maps Review; Sources of Weather Data; and On-Board Weather Tactics. His 24-page introductory section deals with: Overview; Role of Marine Weather; Elements of Marine Weather; Terminology and Glossaries; Wind Terms and Symbols; Getting Started on Resources, and Units and Time Conversions. He is comprehensive and very complete without being redundant.
One could spend many fascinating hours just absorbing the initial introduction and the ending on-board forecasting and tactics discussions, but that would lead inevitably to many hours in the other sections as well—or briefer forays into various areas of those other sections. They need not be read consecutively, but David’s organization is purposeful and very helpful to an over-all understanding of his topics.
This enthusiastic review could go on at length by citing specifics from each section. In the interest of appropriate brevity, I’ll conclude with just a few inviting “morsels” from the last main section—the “old sayings explained.” Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning. Mackerel skies and mare’s tales make tall ships set low sails. Long foretold, long to last, short notice, soon past. First rise after the low can portend a stronger blow (the so-called sting in the scorpion’s tail). Rain kills the wind. A fair wind follows the sun. Burch tells us how and why the old-timers with little or no formal education, but with lifetimes at sea, came to know a lot about marine weather that has benefited their modern and educated followers.
Mariners young and old, get, keep and read Modern Marine Weather. It will take you , as it says it will, “from the time honored maritime traditions to the latest technology.” You will be enriched along the way!"
A new, comprehensive text on how to take weather into account for the planning and navigation of voyages, local or global, using the latest technologies as well as the time-honored skills of maritime tradition, so that your time on the water remains as safe and efficient as possible.
About the Author
David Burch is the author of the courses and director of the school. He has more than 70,000 miles of ocean experience ranging from the Arctic ice edge to Tahiti and Australia in the Pacific and from New York to Panama in the Atlantic. He has sailed across the Pacific to Hawaii ten times, three times winning the Victoria to Maui yacht race, and in 1984 setting the elapsed time record for that passage for vessels under 38 feet long (the record lasted sixteen years, but was beat in the 2000 race). The latest trip was the 2004 Pacific Cup. In powerboats, he delivered a 65-foot fishing vessel from New York to Seattle, via Panama and has made numerous coastal deliveries between WA and CA, AK, and Mexico. He navigated the only American entry (72-foot Cassiopeia) in the storm-ridden '93 Sydney to Hobart yacht race and has since navigated that vessel on the '96 Vic Maui and Swiftsure Lightship Classic when she won first overall in the latter. He holds a USCG masters license, 100 GT.
He is the author of nine books on marine navigation and his magazine articles have appeared in Cruising World, Ocean Navigator, Sailing, and Sea Kayaker. His column "Burch at the Helm" has appeared monthly in BlueWater Sailing magainze since 2009. His recent books are Radar for Mariners from McGraw-Hill, 2005; second edtion of Emergency Navigation, 2008, and Modern Marine Weather 2008, fourth edition of Fundamentals of Kayak Navigation, 2009 The Barometer Handbook, and in 2010 How to Use Plastic Sextants.
His work has been recognized with the Institute of Navigation's Superior Achievement Award for outstanding performance as a practicing navigator, and by a USCG citationfor his successful weather and vessel performance analysis used in a search and rescue operation. In 2011 he was awarded Fellow grade in the Institute of Navigation.
On the academic side, he is a past Fulbright Scholar with a Ph.D. in physics.
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