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Old 15-10-2017, 12:35   #1
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Risk of Sailing SSE in the Gulf of Mexico in early November

I have been invited to join the crew of a 43' Catamaran sailing from Galveston to Cancun in early November. As this would be at the tail end of hurricane season for this area I'm looking for comments as to the risk of such a route considering the crazy 'cane season this year.
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Old 15-10-2017, 13:14   #2
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Re: Risk of Sailing SSE in the Gulf of Mexico in early November

As you say, crazy 'cane season this year...and who knows when it will actually end. I would be very cautious.

Late season storms are often big ones.

Not that history may be a good indicator, but I would also look at historic storm tracks in November. See NOAA for that.
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Old 15-10-2017, 17:22   #3
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Re: Risk of Sailing SSE in the Gulf of Mexico in early November

Nani Kai,

Here's how I see it. Weather forecasting is pretty good. It's not really far, less than 1,000 n. mi. 192 mpd = ~ 6 days. So, how far out do you trust forecasting, remembering that there are sometimes late season hurricanes? Jim and I got caught in a late season cyclone, 6 weeks late, it was. The point is that they do happen.

So, your friend has "invited" you, not asked you to help. Will he or she be set on leaving on the date, or will he or she postpone with an adverse forecast? As skipper of the boat, the friend has a duty of care for the welfare of the ship and the crew. As a friend, and as a crew, once committed, you have to consider the welfare of the whole enterprise, as well.

As a human being, you have a duty of care for yourself.

In your shoes, if the friend needs to know now, I'd have to say "no", unless I could trust that the mission would be aborted if the forecast looks dicey.

So, I guess you really need more data.

Ann
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Old 15-10-2017, 18:53   #4
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Re: Risk of Sailing SSE in the Gulf of Mexico in early November

That's a good question. If the only source of hurricanes were Atlantic-tropical-waves-off-Africa, your advance notice and short sailing window would be comfortable; but the Gulf spawns its own hurricanes with scary rapidity, and winter tropical storms can also be "where the hell did THAT come from?" phenomena. I hope they'll be availing themselves of the services of a professional weather router who will keep a personal eye on your position and progress vis a vis weather. Maybe that's being overly cautious, but it's not an expensive proposition and this season has me spooked.
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Old 15-10-2017, 19:43   #5
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Re: Risk of Sailing SSE in the Gulf of Mexico in early November

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That's a good question. If the only source of hurricanes were Atlantic-tropical-waves-off-Africa, your advance notice and short sailing window would be comfortable; but the Gulf spawns its own hurricanes with scary rapidity, and winter tropical storms can also be "where the hell did THAT come from?" phenomena. I hope they'll be availing themselves of the services of a professional weather router who will keep a personal eye on your position and progress vis a vis weather. Maybe that's being overly cautious, but it's not an expensive proposition and this season has me spooked.
Good point. The GOM can be a nasty body of water even without hurricanes. Ive been in the GOM in "hurricane force" conditions in Feb...no hurricanes...but serious heavy weather. These conditions were not forecast.

Discuss with your friend whether he would abort if forecast were not favorable...you can of course always choose to walk away if you dont like the plan pre departure.
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Old 15-10-2017, 20:18   #6
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Re: Risk of Sailing SSE in the Gulf of Mexico in early November

Definitely keep 'early season' fronts in mind. 3-4 days of 35-45 NW can be pretty bad as well (unless you're into that kind of thing)...and you're sailing with the system.
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Old 16-10-2017, 10:32   #7
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Re: Risk of Sailing SSE in the Gulf of Mexico in early November

Anytime you take to the sea, you're taking a risk. If in doubt, cancel now so the captain has ample to replace you. He/she plans on having X amount of souls on board, be sure to share your concerns with the captain, now!
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Old 16-10-2017, 11:28   #8
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Re: Risk of Sailing SSE in the Gulf of Mexico in early November

It isn’t all that that far. If the weather prior to leaving looks good, go. If it doesn’t, don’t.
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Old 16-10-2017, 11:37   #9
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Re: Risk of Sailing SSE in the Gulf of Mexico in early November

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It isnít all that that far. If the weather prior to leaving looks good, go. If it doesnít, donít.
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Old 16-10-2017, 11:44   #10
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Re: Risk of Sailing SSE in the Gulf of Mexico in early November

I have not sailed that route. I am a sailor in the Carribean. I have spent a couple of winters on the Yucatan coast. In November the Nortes wind starts. Basically it blows from the North to the Yucatan all winter. The current runs from south to North. My point is check the cruising guides for the sea state. You may sale SE before you sale SW.
Hope this helps.
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Old 16-10-2017, 12:36   #11
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Re: Risk of Sailing SSE in the Gulf of Mexico in early November

We got the crap kicked out of us crossing from New Orleans to Grand Cayman one time in late December. Not forecasted.
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Old 16-10-2017, 12:44   #12
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Re: Risk of Sailing SSE in the Gulf of Mexico in early November

Hurricanes in Gulf of Mexico:

See the illustrations for points of origin, by month.

Historically, September was busy. November not so much.

Tropical Cyclone Climatology
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Old 16-10-2017, 13:46   #13
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Re: Risk of Sailing SSE in the Gulf of Mexico in early November

Steady's post confirmed what I was about to post as purely conjecture based on living in the Houston area most of my life; as you get into mid-late October on there are still storms but they usually high tale it to the east coast. Looking at that even if one of the seemingly rare systems started up in the western Caribbean you could pretty easily hide out in Progresso or somewhere else on the Yucatan.


I'm years away but I would love to hear about this trip if you make it as it is on my list of experience building trips I want to make (Galvy->Port A, Galvy->NOLA/Pensacola, then this trip or to the Keys) before deciding if cruising is what I really want to do. Please either post or message me if you go because the Galveston going east passages are not discussed that often on the boards.
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Old 16-10-2017, 14:44   #14
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Re: Risk of Sailing SSE in the Gulf of Mexico in early November

Thanks to everyone who responded to my inquiry. I knew you folks would come through.

I will be talking with the captain, hopefully later this evening, about weather contingencies. He has already said that departure dates would be weather dependent which to me means we won't go until it looks reasonably safe.

With the information you all have provided I feel I can now make my own assessment of what reasonably safe is.

I've been in 35-45kt situations as noted by jimbunyard and while I wouldn't go looking for those conditions, they are not what concerns me most. What I'm more concerned about is heading South to the birthing grounds of South Atlantic storms in a time window when they can still be active. It's the named storms in the 60+ I don't want to deal with.

SteadyHand's links were useful indicators of most likely storm tracks which helps me to see that there are bail-out opportunities to the West if some dangerous weather comes out of nowhere. Thanks.

Ann, I have appreciated your and Jim's sage, measured advice on more than one occasion. This time is no different.

My inquiry to CF'ers was part of what I consider my "due diligence" responsibility to the captain and the vessel. If after talking with the captain I commit to the trip I would still reserve my final answer for the day of departure. If it don't look right then I don't go. I fully understand about respecting the captain's need to replace me if I bail as P3sailor noted, but ultimately I agree with your assessment that my responsibility is first to myself, then to the crew, then to the captain.

Didn't know about professional weather routers. Thanks for the tip danielmartindm. I'll ask the captain, maybe even look into it myself. (btw, my son's name is Daniel Martin. Nice.)

North winds and south current could be problematic as re: wave height. Certainly we will check all available references as part of the sail plan. Or at least we will if I'm going.

Thanks to everyone. All the info offered has been very helpful. If I make the trip I will report back when I return.

Aloha all
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Old 16-10-2017, 15:14   #15
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Re: Risk of Sailing SSE in the Gulf of Mexico in early November

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Originally Posted by Nani Kai View Post
Thanks to everyone who responded to my inquiry. I knew you folks would come through.

I will be talking with the captain, hopefully later this evening, about weather contingencies. He has already said that departure dates would be weather dependent which to me means we won't go until it looks reasonably safe.

With the information you all have provided I feel I can now make my own assessment of what reasonably safe is.

I've been in 35-45kt situations as noted by jimbunyard and while I wouldn't go looking for those conditions, they are not what concerns me most. What I'm more concerned about is heading South to the birthing grounds of South Atlantic storms in a time window when they can still be active. It's the named storms in the 60+ I don't want to deal with.

SteadyHand's links were useful indicators of most likely storm tracks which helps me to see that there are bail-out opportunities to the West if some dangerous weather comes out of nowhere. Thanks.

Ann, I have appreciated your and Jim's sage, measured advice on more than one occasion. This time is no different.

My inquiry to CF'ers was part of what I consider my "due diligence" responsibility to the captain and the vessel. If after talking with the captain I commit to the trip I would still reserve my final answer for the day of departure. If it don't look right then I don't go. I fully understand about respecting the captain's need to replace me if I bail as P3sailor noted, but ultimately I agree with your assessment that my responsibility is first to myself, then to the crew, then to the captain.

Didn't know about professional weather routers. Thanks for the tip danielmartindm. I'll ask the captain, maybe even look into it myself. (btw, my son's name is Daniel Martin. Nice.)

North winds and south current could be problematic as re: wave height. Certainly we will check all available references as part of the sail plan. Or at least we will if I'm going.

Thanks to everyone. All the info offered has been very helpful. If I make the trip I will report back when I return.

Aloha all
Re weather routing service. Chris Parker is popular w many cruisers.

Winds Against Current. On this route really only an issue in or near the Yucatan Channel. The Yucatan Current flows N between the Yucatan and Cuba. A strong N wind against this major ocean current can get ugly.

Also look up "Gulf Loop Current". This is a highly variable current which meanders off the Yucatan Current. You will want to know its position for this route.
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