Anyone who’s had a satellite weather service piped into their chartplotter already knows how useful these systems are, and Baron offers PC based software that lets you get that same weather data up on the screen of your computer via data link, for those times and places with gaps in coverage. If you can have it on the chartplotter, why bother with a PC? Don’t forget that plenty of big boats have PC based systems, and on top of that, it’s incredibly useful to be able to fire up the computer and look at satellite weather while you’re on dry land, too – not to mention a few additional features going PC provides, which we’ll get into in just a moment. And when you’re in an area that doesn’t get sat coverage, Baron’s new “Quicklink” data link option will let you download weather data on the spot – wherever the spot may be, because this $50 service is essentially world-wide. Here’s my very favorite thing about these systems:
You can see the storms coming. You know how severe they are, which way they’re moving, how fast they’re moving, and what the wind speed is inside the storm. This type of data has now saved my butt from being slammed by a squall at sea, at least twice. In fact, I now consider satellite weather to be among the most important features on my boat.
So, what’s different about using Baron versus the chartplotter? When I tested out the software they sent me, I found three main advantages. First off, the user interface is fluid and easy to understand. Depending on which chartplotting system you own, this may or may not be true for an at-the-helm unit. Secondly, taking the system to a PC allowed for more overlays with better visibility. On most chartplotters once you add two or three layers, it gets really tough to figure out what’s what. Thirdly, having the computer running the show gives you more digital juice, and thus the ability to add features like “rewind”, which replays weather data up to 23 hours old, allowing you to formulate reasonable forecasts. The down-side? List cost for the software is $550. As usual, you’ve got to pay to play… but in this case, I’ve got to say this would be money well-spent. That’s especially true for boats that visit far-flung fishing areas and occasionally find gaps in satellite coverage, because Quicklink will keep ‘em weather-wise.