Navtex is a network of transmitters and onboard receivers created to distribute weather information throughout the World’s oceans. The information is collated and distributed by area coordinators who set the particular area transmitter for each sea area.
The messages are Navigational Telex (Navtex) and in a fixed format with each message being transmitted at a fixed time and in a fixed format. There is also provision for urgent messages to be transmitted out of schedule.
Each receiver can be set up by the user to receive information for a specific sea area. It's important to do this before you enter the sea area is you are not to risk missing transmissions. Sometimes transmissions can be corrupted, in which case you can either email the transmitting coordinator or simply turn off the Navtex to delete messages and await the next transmission.
Navtex data may include weather forecasts, navigational warnings, SAR information (Search and Rescue) and other urgent information. The data is transmitted in English and the local language for the area (on two different frequencies).
Navtex is only available from coastal transmitting stations at a range of approximately 200 miles offshore. However, some computers can be linked to Navtex data and if you have satellite broadband you are able to access navtex data on the internet.
There is no user charge for Navtex broadcasts although you will need a Navtex receiver or suitable sound cards on your computer so that you can read the transmissions. Many Navtex receivers also have a printer which will print off received messages or alerts.
A complete list of Navtex areas and transmitters, etc is available from the Admiralty List of Radio Signals (ALRS).