“I’ve never seen anything like it over the last 20 years,” he says. “It’s almost like there’s no ionosphere. So right now, my traffic is down.”
When atmospheric propagation is best, extending his radio range, Herb can cover the north and south Atlantic, as far north as Greenland, as far east as Madagascar, and as far west as Baja, California, and Easter Island.
People who depend on Herb sail watercraft that range from yachts to family boats to commercial vessels. Of the latter, many cross the Atlantic to deliver war supplies for American troops in Iraq. Herb really has only one caveat -- you must contact him via SSB.
“I get these phone calls saying, ‘Herb, I’m gonna leave tomorrow for Ireland, and I want to maintain contact with you. I have a cell phone.’ I say, ‘I don’t do that. I work strictly via radio.’ That’s what I enjoy. It’s unique,” he says. Ironically, Herb doesn’t sail anymore. He and his wife will travel to visit family, but he prefers to stay home, maintaining the garden and the fish pond. And talking on the radio. “I know what it’s like to be in 40-foot seas. So I don’t need it anymore. But I feel like I’m on a boat when I talk to these boats. Every day. It’s amazing. I feel for the boats. It’s rough out there.”
One added bonus of being the world’s secret weatherman is that some of his contacts are actually pilots for American Airlines who tune in to his frequency. As they fly overhead, they often call him and ask for a quick forecast on the jet streams so that the plane can pick up some mileage.
“When I was living in Bermuda,” Herb says, “I was flying back from Miami, and the captain recognized me on the flight. He invited me to go up forward and sit with them in the cockpit -- all the way to Bermuda!”