Fair-Weather Friend

herb-only1Down inside a yacht anchored off an island in the Caribbean, skipper Jason White shows off a state-of-the-art computerized control center. He points out a marine single sideband (SSB) radio, somewhat of a sailing-instrument anachronism amid modern technology like satellite phones and weather faxes. And then he tells me about Herb. Somewhere out there, on the frequency 12359 kilohertz, is a man named Herb who will give any boat a personalized weather forecast upon request. He’s more accurate than any weather service, say the mariners who rely upon his expertise. But very few sailors even know he exists. “He only says it once, and he talks so fast, you have to record it and listen to it later,” says White, holding up a small digital recorder. “I use him all the time. But if you bug him too much, he’ll just ignore you.” Full text of article here.