Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. How to access Webcast?
2. Notes
3. Support Request, by email or website
4. Support Requests - more info
5. Unable to Transmit on SSB? That's OK, I can broadcast your forecast!
6. Why is your forecast different from forecasts from other sources?
7. What areas are covered in Regional Daily Email forecasts?
8. What is the "<" symbol in my email forecast
9. What is "N ROUTE" and "S ROUTE" in my email forecast?
10. I need help interpreting Regional Daily EMail forecasts
11. What methods of payment are accepted?
12. I'm not getting email forecasts I signed-up for.
13. Is your website secure?
14. How can I receive my forecast?
15. Can you email me a copy of an old forecast / forecast for a previous day?
16. Custom (vessel-specific) forecasts by Email
17. I'm on a long passage. How much will Custom (vessel-specific) email forecasts cost?
18. I want a Custom forecast by email. How do you decide when to send the forecast?
19. What if weather is no good?
20. How do I order another forecast?
21. Will you monitor the weather and contact us if things change?
22. How often should I request a new Custom Email forecast?
23. Can you give me a waypoint to head toward?
24. Sharing forecasts with others
25. Position Reports
26. Pacific Ocean - do you provide forecasts, or know someone who does?
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1. How to access Webcast?
You can participate in interactive, real-time SSB Voice Nets from almost any Internet-connected device.

Login to your account here:

https://mwxc.com/client_login.php

With your username & password

Once logged-in to your account at mwxc.com, click one of the 2 "WEBCAST" links in the upper-right area of the screen.

Link takes you to appropriate Greenlight Collaboration meeting "waiting room".

Click the "Click to Join" meeting link, and you'll enter the meeting room.

"LOW-BANDWIDTH" Webcasts stream:
--my voice and SSB Net audio
--allows you to text questions

--this is in FLASH format, so may not work on some iPhones/iPads, unless you use a FLASH workaround (see below).

PROBLEM:
"Meeting Not Found" message - seems common with Internet Explorer v.11...please try a different Web browser. Chrome is very likely to work fine. Please email me if any browser (other than IE 11) causes problems.

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"HIGH BANDWIDTH" Webcasts stream:
--my Computer Desktop (you can see the weather details I'm describing)
--my voice & Webcam, and SSB Net audio
--allows you to text questions

-- this is NOT in FLASH format, but, unfortunately, the Computer Desktop streaming is not supported on iPads/iPhones, unless you use a workaround (see below).

Workaround for iPad/iPhone:

There are many solutions for viewing FLASH content on iPads/iPhones. Feel free to try others, but I have had great success with "Photon" web browser.

Purchase for $4.99 from iTunes store (I have NO relationship with the developer, and receive NO kickback). Open "Photon" browser, and login to your account as above. Preferably, BEFORE you select which Webcast to enter, click the "Lightning Bolt" icon (upper-right corner of Browser screen) to enter FLASH mode.

Hints:
--if you want to type a question, click the box into which you want to enter text, then press the "Keyboard" icon on the navigation bar at the top of the screen. To make keyboard vanish, press this icon again.
--Photon nicely displays the ENTIRE screen I send - just scroll around to view different parts of the screen.
--use the "Settings" cog-wheel icon to select Bandwidth and other options.
--to access other TABS you have open, click the odd "diagonal-shaped pennant and + sign" icon to the left of the address box.
2. Notes
Each time I have contact with a client, I make a NOTE in the database. I can elect to email that NOTE to all email addresses you have selected to receive emails/notes/support.

This works well to email you a brief note if I think you have not copied me well on the SSB Voice Nets, or if you have family back home wanting to know where you are, etc.

If you want me to email NOTEs every time I make one, please let me know (they'd be emailed to all addresses set to receive email/notes/support).
3. Support Request, by email or website
When you email me at support@mwxc.com my system searches the database for client records matching your email address, then tells me when I need to answer your email.

IMPORTANT: the email address in the "From" or "Reply-To" fields of your support request should match an email address in your client record at mwxc.com (questions from existing clients are given priority, and if the system can't match From/Reply-to to your client record, it will assume you are not a client).

The Subject Line of your Support Request MUST contain 3 items (4th is optional):

1. Priority (H, M, L) corresponding to high (you must have an answer) / medium (you would really appreciate an answer) / low (I should answer you only if I have ample time).

2. Date, for example: 05-Dec-2011
Format of date can be:
US standard DD/MM/YY or YYYY (for example 12/5/11)
my preferred format above DD-Month-YY or YYYY (05-Dec-2011)
or even Month DD, YY or YYYY (Dec 5, 2011)

3. Time, in even hours EST/EDT for example: 1700 (1700 hrs EST/EDT)

4. (Optional but suggested) brief text subject, for example: when should I tack

Each item should be separated by a comma. So, the subject line for the above request would look like this:

H, 12/5/11, 1700, when should I tack

NOTE: Weather-related questions should be answered as late as possible, so I can base my answer on the best possible information - while still giving you time to retrieve my answer and incorporate my answer into your plans.

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When you follow the above protocol, here's what happens:
--Your support request appears on my computer, in the proper order so I have the best chance to answer all support requests from existing clients in a timely manner.
--All interactions I have with you, including this support request, are contained in your client record, so I have all your information whenever we interact.
--I provide you with the best possible answer to your question at the optimum time.

Follow-up questions:
If you send a follow-up Support Request, you may remove the old message body (to reduce email size). Within the subject line, you may adjust Priority, Date, Time...but do NOT alter or remove the xxxxx-xxxxx Support Ticket number.

If you have Internet access, you can login to your account at mwxc.com then enter your Support Request from your Client Panel or the Contact page - these are handled in the same manner as email requests.

You can still use the chris@mwxc.com email address for general correspondence, but if you require an answer, I will get you that answer better and faster if you email questions to: support@mwxc.com

When I am on vacation and Ed Bilicki fills in for me, Ed will receive and respond to Support Requests sent to support@mwxc.com (and entered on the website) just as I do.
4. Support Requests - more info
Support Requests emailed to support@mwxc.com are the BEST way for all clients to get useful and timely answers from me on both weather-related and account-related questions.

We've fine-tuned the Support Request feature, as follows:

Requests submitted WITHOUT suggested SUBJECT LINE are now treated as requiring an answer immediately. Previously, they were treated as non-critical requests.

Further discussion...
For best service, please include the following in the SUBJECT LINE of your email to support@mwxc.com :

Priority (H, M, L for high, medium, low), Date-answer-required (any date format you like, but note xx/xx/xxxx will be read as mm/dd/yyyy), Time-answer-required (in hours EST), Subject

Each separated by a COMMA...for instance:

H, 1/14/2012, 1600, when should I cross Anegada Passage

The above request will be treated as critical (High priority), and I'll make every effort to answer it no later than Jan 14, 2012 at 1600 hours EST.

By including the above in your SUBJECT LINE, I will be able to get you the best possible answer at the most-appropriate time.

If you do NOT include the above information in your SUBJECT LINE, then I will have to guess when I should respond.

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When replying to (or re-opening) a Support Request, please enter your reply text BELOW the appropriate line...

OR

DELETE ALL of the message body except for the new text you're sending.

If you simply add your text to the BEGINNING of the email, my system will NOT display the text for me.

I hope the Support Request feature, and other current (and planned) features make Marine Weather Center an even-more-valuable resource when you're Cruising. Thank you for your continuing support!...Chris.
5. Unable to Transmit on SSB? That's OK, I can broadcast your forecast!
If you're unable to transmit on SSB (or I'm consistently unable to hear you when you do), we can still transmit your forecast on the SSB Voice Nets (usually right after the Synopsis), if you do the following:

Email

support@mwxc.com

1. Your email should have the following in the SUBJECT LINE:

H, 1/25/2012, 0600, Transmit forecast on SSB Net

Where H is the priority (high)
1/25/2012 is the date you want me to BEGIN broadcasting the forecast
0600 is the time (important that it's 0600 so I see it 1st thing in the morning)
Transmit forecast on SSB Net tells me what you need

2. in the MESSAGE BODY your:

a. vessel name
b. location
c. Plan (i.e. where you're going, when, and anything else I should know)
d. the SSB Net on which you'd like me to broadcast your forecast

Alternatively, you can ask another vessel to hail me with the above information, or you can call me ahead of time with the above information, at 863-248-2702, and I'll broadcast your forecast as requested.

It's best if you update the above information as frequently as possible, by any means possible.
If I'm broadcasting your forecast over a number of days, please close-the-loop by telling me when I can stop broadcasting your forecast.
6. Why is your forecast different from forecasts from other sources?
I employ a unique methodology, which I call the "worst likely scenario". When preparing your forecast, I consider what might happen, and include in the forecast details for the worst of the plausible scenarios.

This differs from other forecasts, which give you the most-likely scenario.
7. What areas are covered in Regional Daily Email forecasts?
3 Regions available:
E Caribbean (E of 72W)
Bahamas/W Atlantic/US E Coast (as far N as Southern NewEngland in summer)
W Caribbean (W of 72W)
8. What is the "<" symbol in my email forecast
The < symbol indicates a change in conditions over the relevant time period. Read "<" as "becoming".

"240@18<15 this afternoon" means wind will be 240-degrees, starting this afternoon at 18k and becoming 15k.
9. What is "N ROUTE" and "S ROUTE" in my email forecast?
The Bahamas Regional Email forecast offers specific forecast and recommendations on the GulfStream between:

FtPierce / LkWorth - to - MantanillaShola / MemoryRock / WEnd (N ROUTE)

Miami / FtLaud / KyLargo - to - Bimini / S RidingRk / GtBahamaBk (S ROUTE)
10. I need help interpreting Regional Daily EMail forecasts
I have a "Primer" for each Region, which details which information is in which sections, and details abbreviations I use. Here are links:

E Caribbean: http://mwxc.com/news/?p=113

Bahamas: http://mwxc.com/news/?p=109

W Caribbean: http://mwxc.com/news/?p=116
11. What methods of payment are accepted?
We accept Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express.

If you strongly prefer to pay by check, please contact: chris@mwxc.com
12. I'm not getting email forecasts I signed-up for.
First, check settings on your account/subscription:
1. For all emails, make sure you have the appropriate address(es) selected to receive forecasts.
2. For Regional Daily Forecasts, do you have a current Subscription?
3. For Regional Daily Forecasts, make sure you have 1-or-more "Regions" selected.

If the above are correct and you're still not getting forecasts, then contact Chris Parker:
863-248-2702
chris@mwxc.com
support@mwxc.com

The following is a description of the likely culprit:

We have a "smart" email system (maybe too smart).

In this world overflowing with SPAM, the last thing a legitimate email sender wants is to be "blacklisted" as a spammer, or to have our SPAM SCORE so high that legitimate emails end-up getting automatically filtered into the recipient's SPAM folder.

Our system tries to prevent this in 2 ways:

1. If you ever (even once by mistake) flag an email from Marine Weather Center as SPAM, and your email service provider sends that information to our server, our server will never send you another email.

2. If an email to you ever bounces (is undeliverable) for any reason (you let an email address lapse, etc), our server will never send you another email.

In the above cases, even if our List Server follows your instructions to generate the email forecast, our email "Policeman" prevents our server from sending your forecast.

If you contact me, I can make our "Email Policeman" FORGET there was ever a problem delivering mail to you...and it should then allow email forecasts to pass to you.
13. Is your website secure?
Yes, mwxc.com website has a SSL 3.0 security certificate (notice the "https" on the sign-up form).

We follow credit card industry "best practices", and every 3 months we re-verify "PCI-compliance".

Here's what happens when you make a payment on www.mwxc.com:

Our server checks the order for errors, and, if none, submits your information for payment authorization. The very second your payment is approved, your subscription is active (or your scheduled product is on the schedule).

CREDIT CARD DETAILS: our server only acts as a conduit, establishing a secure Internet connection with ePN processing network, which only acts as a conduit to pass your credit card information to the appropriate Card Network (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Discover). This Card Network verifies information with the bank which issued your credit card, and either approves or declines the transaction in realtime. Later that night, the Card Network "settles" the transaction with the Bank which issued your card, and pays ePN, who then pays Marine Weather Center.

Neither the www.mwxc.com website nor ePN ever store your entire credit card number.

Instead, we store the last 4 digits and expiration date. We also store a unique code which the Card Network assigns to purchases by you at Marine Weather Center.

When you renew, or purchase additional weather services with the same card you used previously, we submit to the Card Network the last 4 digits of your credit card, the expiration month/year, and the unique code, and the transaction processes just as if a full credit card number was submitted.

The benefits for you and us are:
1. Neither Marine Weather Center nor our Merchant Processing Company (ePN) ever store your full credit card number.

2. The "unique code" provided to us by the Card Network is password protected. But even if it were obtained fraudulently, it would only work to approve transactions for which payment would come to Marine Weather Center (so it would be of no use to a criminal).

While this is no guarantee your data is 100% secure, it is as secure at www.mwxc.com as it is on the Internet's other "most-secure" websites.
14. How can I receive my forecast?
Via ANY communications capabilities beyond VHF radio. Basically, if you can communicate with the outside world beyond VHF range, you can receive our forecasts. Methods include: email, phone, fax, and SSB radio voice nets.
15. Can you email me a copy of an old forecast / forecast for a previous day?
Actually, you can retrieve ANY email forecast which was sent to you since April 15, 2011.
Login to your account, then click "View/Search All Regional Forecasts"

We are working on allowing access to email forecasts since April 15, 2011, for Regions which were not sent to you, and for any periods for which you were not a subscriber...if you need one of these, please email chris@mwxc.com
16. Custom (vessel-specific) forecasts by Email
Many clients use our Custom (vessel-specific) email forecasts.

Forecast (except general 10-day Outlook) generally includes:
1. summary of current weather and sea conditions
2. SYNOPSIS of major weather features and their expected influence on you
3. analysis of and optimized routing based on Sea Surface Currents
4. Detailed forecast of wind speed and direction; estimate of wind in squalls; and height, direction and interval of both swells and wind-driven seas - all every 12-hours out to 2-days or 5-days, with more-granularity to time intervals near significant weather events.
5. suggested TACTICS you may wish to employ to optimize your trip, given the expected conditions at each 12-hour interval.
6. suggest when you may want to request your next forecast Update

You can order the initial forecast on the website www.mwxc.com or by phone or email.

Forecasts can be charged to your credit card as you request them, or you can purchase a package of forecasts in advance, as follows:

--Detailed 5-day forecast and routing advice with 10-day Outlook $55
--Detailed 2-day forecast and routing advice $30
--General 10-day Outlook $30 (useful for ensuring vessels on long passages are maintaining the best route for the overall weather pattern, while the vessel handles their own day-to-day forecasting)
--Package of (10) Custom forecasts for $195 (each $30 forecast or $25 phone-in forecast will count as one (1) forecast / each $55 forecast counts as two (2) of your ten (10) forecasts).

TO REQUEST SUBSEQUENT FORECASTS:

email me in the morning with the following, and I'll email your forecast later in the day:

1. your Location, course and speed
2. weather and sea conditions
3. your PLAN (and anything else I should know when preparing your forecast)
4. type of forecast you're requesting:
--5-day forecast $55
--2-day forecast $30
--general 10-day Outlook $30

Schedule your 1st forecast for 1-2 days before your earliest intended departure.

I'll contact you within 24hrs before sending the forecast to confirm favorable weather for your departure. If conditions are not favorable for departure, I'll continue monitoring weather (and communicating with you every couple days) until there's a suitable departure opportunity. So the 1st forecast includes a Departure Window recommendation.
17. I'm on a long passage. How much will Custom (vessel-specific) email forecasts cost?
Cost varies depending on how self-reliant you are, and how bad or changeable weather conditions are.

Some self-reliant folks cross the Atlantic with just 3 or 4 "general 10-day Outlooks" and one or two "2-day forecasts" when there's a significant upcoming weather event. Forecasts for their entire Atlantic crossing can be $100-or-so.

Other folks prefer more input from me on their forecasting and routing. Most folks request about $100 of forecasts each week on extended offshore passages.
18. I want a Custom forecast by email. How do you decide when to send the forecast?
When you order your initial Custom email forecast, please schedule it for the day before your 1st possible departure date.

On the day before this (2 days prior to your earliest departure date), I'll look at your request, and assess the weather situation, and read any NOTES you've made on the order.

If I assess a delay is advised, or if you've asked me to confirm your departure intentions, I'll contact you by email or phone, and re-schedule your forecast appropriately.
19. What if weather is no good?
I'll on the day before your forecast is due (2 days prior to your earliest departure date), if conditions do not look acceptable, I'll contact you by phone or email to re-schedule your forecast.

I'll continue doing this as many times as necessary to identify a departure opportunity you deem acceptable.

Of course, once we agree I should send you the detailed forecast, and I send the forecast, if you later decide not to go, the order will still be considered to be completed.
20. How do I order another forecast?
If you want a forecast by phone ($25 or 1 forecast credit), call 863-248-2702, after 10am EDT/AST

When you want another email forecast, please email me the following in the morning and I will email your forecast later in the day:

#1: your location / course / speed
#2: weather / sea conditions
#3: your PLAN, and anything I should know when creating your forecast, as well as any specific questions I should answer
#4: REQUEST that I email you one of the following forecasts:
a: detailed 5-day forecast ($55 or 2 forecast credits)
b. Detailed 2-day forecast ($30 or 1 forecast credit)
c. General 10-day Outlook ($30 or 1 forecast credit)

(A "forecast credit" is 1 of your 10 prepaid forecasts if you purchased a 10-pack of forecasts for $195).
21. Will you monitor the weather and contact us if things change?
No. Some folks might object to a forecaster contacting them (and billing them) for forecasts when they don't need them. I have no shortage of work, and no desire to charge you for anything you don't feel you need.

You will usually have a good feeling for when you need another forecast, such as:
My previous forecasts detailed uncertainties in the predicted weather pattern, the possibility for severe weather, or highlighted a specific day on which you'd probably want more information so you could make a decision when to tack, etc.

Or you'll notice your weather conditions are beginning to deviate from the previous forecast.
22. How often should I request a new Custom Email forecast?
See the above answer for clues it's time to ask for another forecast.

In general, for extended offshore passages, clients request 2-3 forecasts per week.

I've worked with self-reliant folks who only needed 1 general 10-day outlook each week on their trans-Atlantic passage, to help ensure they were at about the optimum Latitude, and not at risk for a severe storm. These clients can cross the Atlantic on 4-5 forecasts for a total of $100-$150.

More typical is a client requesting 1 or 2 detailed 5-day forecasts per week, and 1 or 2 detailed 2-day forecasts the day before inclement weather...for a total of about $100-or-so per week.
23. Can you give me a waypoint to head toward?
Occasionally there's a good reason to aim for a specific waypoint, and, when this is the case, I'll give you a specific waypoint.

However, it is my strong opinion that clients are best served by sailing their vessel in a manner which is fast and comfortable, while heading basically in the right direction.

For instance, I had 2 clients heading from Florida to E Caribbean this week.

One seemed hell-bent on maintaining a due-E course in spite of strong SE wind, and he ignored or didn't understand my advice to sail "whatever course is comfortable basically to the NE-E". He got battered-up, turned around, and sailed 2 days back to Florida.

The other vessel was more-flexible, sailing generally NE-E, on a consistent beam reach in the brisk SE-S wind, and - he's now sailing nicely E-ward, with mild S wind and excellent prospects for a mild trip to E Caribbean with mild N wind next 2-3 days, before reaching NE-E Trades.

Again, there are situations where navigation is restricted, or where weather trends make sailing in a specific direction (and achieving a specific waypoint) imperative. More often, however, maintaining a comfortable sailing angle while going generally in the right direction is preferable.
24. Sharing forecasts with others
You are purchasing limited rights to use my intellectual property on your vessel and, unless you have my express permission, you may NOT redistribute, or cause to be redistributed, my forecasts for use on a vessel you are not physically on.

However, there are some ways you can share:

Feel free to put my forecast into your own words, and share this with others. Be sure you note it's your interpretation of my forecast. Sharing my words is NOT OK. Expressing your own words is fine, as long as people don't think they're my words.

If you believe sharing my forecast on a single occasion may motivate a potential new client to purchase my services, then it's OK to share MY WORDS on that one occasion. However, this is NOT OK on a recurring basis, or if you do not think there's a reasonable chance the sharing could prompt the person you're sharing with to purchase services.

25. Position Reports
Many vessels have the ability to send Position Reports, and I find these useful in several ways.

I established a special email address for receiving Position Reports from clients. Please send (or copy or blind copy) Position Reports to: spot@mwxc.com

In order to match the Position Report to a client (so I can provide better service to you), I need one of the following in the SUBJECT LINE of the Position Report:

A. whatever characters are in the "SSB Call Sign" field of your account at www.mwxc.com (this can be an SSB or Ham Call Sign - but NOT BOTH).

B. the 4-digit "SPOT Email Identifier" field of your account at www.mwxc.com (a 3 or 4 digit number unique to your vessel, assigned by my system, with a "#" symbol before & after the number).

To find either of the above, login to your account at www.mwxc.com (if you don't know your username/password, click "Retrieve Your Login Information" from the Login page, and my system will generate a new password and email it to you).

When my system receives a Position Report at spot@mwxc.com it attempts to match words in the SUBJECT LINE of the Position Report to the "SSB Call Sign" and "SPOT Email Identifier" fields of your Client Profile.

Once a match is made, your position is plotted on an interactive map I use to track clients and monitor real-time weather information. See the FAQ on Interactive Weather Map.

In addition, my system attempts to "parse" any weather observation details your Position Report may contain into numerical data, which it graphs for me, so I can see recent weather observation details throughout the area.

And my system displays (and I read) any additional text/comments from your Position Report.

Position Reports can be submitted by any combination of:

SPOT device from Glogalstar (Original SPOT, Spot Connect, SPOT G3), but the SPOT phone is just a phone, and not a position reporting device.

DeLorme InReach

WL2K

YOTREPS

Email via any method

Specific requirements for each are below.
26. Pacific Ocean - do you provide forecasts, or know someone who does?
I provide weather forecasting & routing advice for the Pacific Coast of Central America, and adjacent waters, including:
Colombia & Ecuador, Galapagos, and Panama to SanDiego

Forecasts for this area are via SSB Voice Nets or Custom Email or phone-in forecasts (NO "Regional Daily Email forecasts").

If you're heading N of SanDiego, S of Ecuador, or W of the Galapagos, then I suggest you use a different resource.

For folks heading to the SouthPacific, there's Bob McDavitt:
http://weathergram.blogspot.com/
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