Saildocs Info File
(revised July 16, 2006)

Thank you for your interest in Saildocs, an Internet service for the bandwidth-impaired. Saildocs offers text-based document retrieval and subscription services for offshore sailors, adventurers, missionaries and others who somehow live their lives without broadband connections. There are currently two services offered, a document retrieval service which will return documents from the Internet or our own files, and a subscription service which will send Internet documents (for example weather reports) at scheduled intervals. Saildocs is supported by Sailmail ( but can be used by anyone who agrees to the terms and conditions (below).

Document retrieval:
Saildocs can either retreive documents from its own library, internet documents which are in its index (primarily text weather information), web pages, or grib data (specialized weather data files).

Documents are requested by sending an email to: The subject line can be anything, and the body of the message contains requests of the form "send xxx" where "xxx" is the name of the document. The word "index" has a special meaning and sends the current library index, and a document called "info" (this document) is always available. For example, to request the index and help documents, send the following message:

Subject: (anything)

send info
send index

You can follow this with the command command "quit", a line of dashes, or just end the message. Note that extra text at the end, such as an email-footer, may cause Saildocs to not respond. This is an anti-spam measure (and does not apply to messages sent from Sailmail).

Requesting weather bulletins:
Once the index is received, request one or more weather catalogs (for example "send epac" for the available Eastern Pacific bulletins). Then request the bulletin by using the code from the catalog:

send FZPN02.KWBC

Other weather data:
Saildocs also downloads weather data from global computer models and makes this available as "grib" files or "spot" text forecasts. For information on requesting grib files, send a (blank) email to and for spot-forecasts send a (blank) email to:

Requesting web pages:
Saildocs can also fetch documents from the web and convert them to plain text. Send a message to, with "Send" followed by the URL (web address) as follows:

Subject: (anything)


This will fetch the Sailmail home page.

Saildocs will send requested documents on a periodic basis. To enter a subscription you need the same code that is used for a request, above. Any request can be turned into a subscription by changing the "send" command to "sub" (or "subscribe"). Once you determine which forecast(s) you want to subscribe to, send a subscription :

Subject: (anything)


This enters a subscription for the Boston and Chesapeake Coastal forecasts (see the "nws-atl" index). By default these are fetched once per day. The period and time can be overriden by adding commands as follows:

FZNT23.KWNM time=00:00 interval=6

This will fetch the document every 6 hours beginning at 00:00z. Subscriptions are normally entered for 14 days, a different period can be specificed as follows:

FZNT23.KWNM days=7

A confirmation will be sent for any changes to a subscription. In addition, a full status listing can be requested by including the command "status", e.g.

FZNT23.KWNM days=10 time=12:00

To cancel a subscription, again send a message to with the "cancel" (or "unsub" or "unsubscribe") command and the document codes as above. For example:

Subject: (anything)

cancel FZNT23.KWNM

Some things to remember:
By requestiong a document or subscription from Saildocs, you are acknowledging that you have read and agree to the following terms and conditions: The Saildocs is an automated service which is offered without charge on an as-is basis, without any warranty or assurances that it will work, be useful, or that the information delivered will be correct. Saildocs is an automated computer system which is subject to a variety of hardware problems and software errors, and also depends on internet communications with other computers which themselves may or may not work. Saildocs has no control over the content of the information from other sources, and in particular, weather forecasts may be missing, incorrect or out of date.

Known limitations:
Long URL's require properly formatted Mime-encoded messages and may not work with all email systems;

Web pages translate to text with varying degrees of success. The fancier the page, the worse the results. There are also other web-to-text services that may produce a more useful output for some pages.

For more information or to report a problem, please send email to

Enjoy the system, and be careful not to overload your email channel!