I received this email today: Stan Heirshberg
It is with sadness that I report that a well known weather forecasting/reporting resource has been lost. For years Don Anderson has provided a free daily weather reporting service for the Pacific West Coast over the Baja Net and other ham radio networks from his home here in Ventura, CA. He did this selflessly out of his love of cruising and the cruising community. Don was a member of our yacht club the Ventura Yacht Club and passed away on his boat Summer Passage while moored in her slip in Ventura. He will be missed by all of us who knew him and all who depended on his daily reports.
This is a story I did on Don two years ago.
By Len Bose
Last Wednesday, I headed out to the harbor with three different ideas for a story and I struck out locating my sources. I thought, “What am I going to do now?” I had to be in Ventura on Thursday to meet with Don Anderson and list his Valiant 47 sailboat “Summerpassage.” Then it hit me – there's my story. To you seasoned yachtsmen – this is the same Don Anderson that does the weather forecast for the “Amigo Net” with the call sign “Summerpassage.” Online, I found two very good stories about Don atwww.csus.edu/indiv/f/foxs/summer%20passage/don-bio.html. But like always, I wanted to ask Don questions he hasn't answered before.
I arrived at Don's home in Ventura at 11 a.m. Commodore Don is a staff commodore of the Balboa Yacht Club. "How've you been, Don?” I asked. “Good, good ... please come in Len, you’re looking the same, with your warm smile and greeting,” he replied. He and I got to know each other quite well over the years, doing mark set duties during two Governors Cup regattas. Over the next couple of hours we talked about his boat and “Don's Weather.
Now, if you read the stories I referred to above, you'll see Don puts in about eight hours a day into his weather forecasts, and you'll also find his broadcasting schedule. But as Don pointed out, you better receive your information from the source; and to receive “Don's Weather” you'll need to tune in your Marine Single Side Band, SSB, daily at 1415 hours zulu (utc) on 8.122.0 Mhz, upper sideband. It's too bad Don turned me down to run an advertisement for Len Bose Yacht Sales, because with more than 1,000 boat owners listening to him twice a day, i'm sure I would increase my sales. Don also does weather routing for about 25 people this time of year. This isn't hobby ... he just can't walk away tomorrow and leave all these people in the dark. This is a big job he's taken on, and to my knowledge the only person in the world that does this service for free.
While interviewing Don, I picked up on a couple of things regarding his listeners: Be on time for his broadcast ... he's not going to send you an email with weather information; he's more than willing to spend hours with you over the SSB if you find yourself in a unexpected situation; he doesn't have a Web site; and he truly enjoys helping out any yachtsman.
I also picked up on some facts that I thought would be fun to share with you: 99% of the cruisers he talks to are husband/wife teams traveling about 160 miles a day. He receives three to four emails a day for people thanking him, (you saved or lives) or (you saved us three days off our passage ... thank you). Don also receives phone calls from the Coast Guard about once a week asking if he knows the location of different vessels.
I then asked Don what he could pass on to our readers about yachting safety. He replied, “Have a Marine SSB, find the local cruising radio nets for the area you will be in, make sure you have jack lines and a harness on your boat, and a EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons). He also recommends you take a sake down cruise (practice cruise) before you leave, and make three to four cruises around San Miguel Island in the summertime. If you can make several cruises around San Miguel you're ready for anything. He also advises to have two radar reflectors up; they don't have to be the expensive ones. Just make sure you read the instructions first and have them displayed at the proper angles. My last bit of safety advice from Don was to try and make contact with any commercial ships, while at sea, on VHF Channel 16 during any crossing situation. Should you make contact with the ship and they inform you of a course change, make sure they give the direction they will be making that course change.
When I left this interview, I felt honored that I have gotten to spend time with this man on the water and I also wondered who might take his place when he has to sign off? I'd like to recommend to the Balboa Yacht Club's Commodores that Staff Commodore Don Anderson be placed on the “Wall of Recognition,” because I know of no other member that honors BYC more.
Len Bose is a contributing writer to the Newport Beach Independent and owner ofLen Bose Yacht Sales.