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Old 16-05-2013, 19:08   #16
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Re: Picking a Weather Window Norfolk-Bahamas

SW 20-30 knots in the gulf stream off Cape Hatteras last night. Fairly clear with apparently no thunderstorms. waves 5-8 feet. close reach heading off to the SE. double reefed for sure. Has anyone experienced this ? Its sounds like a wild ride but doable.
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Old 16-05-2013, 19:24   #17
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Re: Picking a Weather Window Norfolk-Bahamas

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SW 20-30 knots in the gulf stream off Cape Hatteras last night. Fairly clear with apparently no thunderstorms. waves 5-8 feet. close reach heading off to the SE. double reefed for sure. Has anyone experienced this ? Its sounds like a wild ride but doable.
Have you sailed in these conditions on the bay? Do you have a smaller jib to use in lieu of a rolled up Genoa?

Is that the offshore forecast or coastal? Have you checked buoy reports to see actual wind speeds.
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Old 16-05-2013, 20:24   #18
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Re: Picking a Weather Window Norfolk-Bahamas

well, as far as I can tell it is the actual conditions in the gulf stream off Cape Hatteras. Nearest Buoy reports, offshore forecast and model data. I have both a storm trysail as well as a storm jib available on an inner forestay. I have sailed in 20-30 knots in the Chesapeake Bay. Our two passages to Bermuda and back in previous years didn't quite have these exact conditions while crossing the gulf stream. Have you been out there ?
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Old 16-05-2013, 20:35   #19
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Re: Picking a Weather Window Norfolk-Bahamas

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well, as far as I can tell it is the actual conditions in the gulf stream off Cape Hatteras. Nearest Buoy reports, offshore forecast and model data. I have both a storm trysail as well as a storm jib available on an inner forestay. I have sailed in 20-30 knots in the Chesapeake Bay. Our two passages to Bermuda and back in previous years didn't quite have these exact conditions while crossing the gulf stream. Have you been out there ?
Yes, and in squalls too. I think with a solid rig and trysail and staysail, and the experience you have, you would be fine in winds and seas higher than that.

Of course putting out to sea in those conditions s a different story, but in deeper water with an experienced skipper not predisposed to seasickness, and not having to sail too close hauled, you could make some miles. I think it really depends on sea state how comfortable it would be. Weather off Hatteras is unpredictable. I would not put out to sea in those conditions, but would choose a couple days to boogie across the stream and get out in big water.
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Old 21-05-2013, 20:45   #20
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Re: Picking a Weather Window Norfolk-Bahamas

By my DR plot, we've arrived at MOWC. The last two days have been very nice close reach with a 10-15 SSE wind. 7 days from Little Creek Virginia. Except for a bit of a rough go the first night, it was smooth sailing....Check in at Customs at Marsh Harbor tomorrow. So much for my virtual passage. I think I'll keep watching, departing the Chesapeake this time of year is a tradeoff between either riding the tail end of some NW winds out or jumping on some SW winds and riding them out. I think at the start of a passage that could be 7-9 days, I would want some wind to get me down the road and away from Cape Hatteras as quickly as possible.
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Old 22-05-2013, 11:13   #21
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Curious what the picture looks like had you delayed and avoided the rough first part? I realize there are infinite variables, but I'm trying to play along here. There is some value in easing into it, on a new passage where crew experience might suffer if it is brutal on the front end.

Getting routines down and adjusted to motion is a better time for me to start getting tossed around and I don't really suffer from sea sickness except in steep short period waves. Not real sick, just headaches and blah feeling. Like what the hell am I doing out here kinda feeling.

Motor sailing might be a good compromise just to keep up 5-6 knots and get across the stream. I see your point about having the wind to get clear of the stream, but a 20 knot forecast could easily result in winds well into twenties, and I'd be inclined to hit something a little lighter for that Gulf Stream portion til I get in the groove. That is from a conservative singlehanders perspective. If I had experienced crew up for a bouncy ride I'd untie and go, all things considered. But I never do

Cheers-
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Old 22-05-2013, 11:25   #22
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Re: Picking a Weather Window Norfolk-Bahamas

the best site we watch for trips is forecasts.surfingmagazine.com it gives you wind/period/wave height and it's free and pretty close and they will not forecast out if they don't know what a system is going do otherwise they usually go out 7 days check it out even if you're not going now start watchin site,,,
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Old 22-05-2013, 20:11   #23
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Re: Picking a Weather Window Norfolk-Bahamas

Thanks for the comment Cheoah, for my virtual departure last wed. the forecast and conditions stayed pretty much the same Wed, Thu. Thursday during the day the wind a Oregon inlet came down to 10-15 but kicked back up to 15-20 in the evening. Maybe a little easier to handle. on Friday the winds veered to the NE at 10-15 and then to the SE on sat, putting it right on our desired course. Neither, very desirable. winds opposite the GS can double or more the local wind speed and wave height

BALTIMORE CANYON TO HATTERAS CANYON OUT TO 36N 70W TO 34N 71W-
455 PM EDT FRI MAY 17 2013 ....TONIGHT...N TO NE WINDS 10 TO 15 KT...BECOMING E TO NE. SEAS
3 TO 6 FT.
.SAT...E TO SE WINDS 10 TO 15 KT...BECOMING 10 TO 20 KT IN THE
AFTERNOON. SEAS 3 TO 5 FT. CHANCE OF RAIN AND ISOLATED TSTMS W
PORTION IN THE AFTERNOON.

So assuming a Friday departure and only a one day lag all the way to MOWC, it would have been similar, but the landfall in the Bahamas today would have been trickier, 15-20 E-SE rain and TS's, but you cant predict that out 7 days. So its a crap shoot. I'm still looking for the perfect combination of the 10-15 NW backing to 10-15 SW and holding down to 30N. Not sure if this ever happens... how would that work ? the back side of a L moving to the NE, followed by another slow moving L that stalls out in eastern PA ? Right now we have high pressure over Bermuda and an approaching front and L that is generating strong SW flow (S 30 kts on Friday of hatteras)... again more than we want. but maybe by Saturday or sunday it would be doable.

one comment about motoring. If I had more fuel on board, I would be less concerned about heading out in the middle of high pressure calm. My beneteau 35 has a 20 gallon build in fuel tank. If I had a custom tank put in taking the entire "under" berth space I might be able to triple it. at a cost of about $1500 and install it myself. this would extend my underpower range from about 200 miles to 400 miles. about half the distance Norfolk to MOWC. If I were shopping for a new boat- a 60-80 gal fuel tank would be on my want-to-have list. I think that's a problem for most "racer-cruisers".

For Dandkg... all the NOAA forecast are available for free at Ocean Prediction Center
wind and waves out 5 days updated every 3-6 hours.

most of the other sites are model data, this site is neat because they overlay the satellite altimeter data when available , Altimetry Menu (STORMSURF)
I like SailFlow because its free, you can overlay buoy reports, noaa forecasts and model data for a 3 day prediction.

another good site is Lee Chesneau's Marine Weather everything you ever wanted for marine weather and notices about good weather courses to take.


Thanks for playing my game I appreciate the participation.
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Old 28-05-2013, 19:40   #24
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Re: Picking a Weather Window Norfolk-Bahamas

over the next 5 days the forecast for Balto canyon to Hatt canyon is S SW 10-20 which would make a good launch for a close reach across the gs and then as the winds go to the S-SE tacking south to catch a southern counter current of the GS at 75 W or 73 west ... the two current models at Gulf Stream Tools
almost never agree.
but nonetheless the way to work south is ride the SW winds on a STB tack until the winds shifts to the SE then tack and head back to the SW. I think I'll start a new DR line with a dawn departure tomorrow.
Does anyone have an explanation or theory why the two GS models give different results?
On another note, the weather in the Abacos has been quite variable : windy and rainy with one good day then several more with 15-20 from the E or SE. Is this typical for May?
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Old 09-06-2013, 16:22   #25
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Re: Picking a Weather Window Norfolk-Bahamas

I would certainly give a +1 to extra tankage... even if that is racking 4-6 cans on the rails.. and if you have not already done so, determine your most fuel efficient motoring rpm.. in my case, with a W38 and 3500rpm limit, my economical speed is ~5.2kts @ 2200rpm... I can clearly go faster, but if I am motoring becalmed in a high that's the speed I use.
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Old 13-07-2013, 06:43   #26
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Re: Picking a Weather Window Norfolk-Bahamas

To complete and my summarize my virtual cruise: between April 20 and June 1st there were only two weather windows that I choose for a Norfolk departure.

1) May 15 departure for MOW - heading out with a pretty strong (15-20/25)SW wind, but making a fast passage. stayed on a stb tack - close reach to beam reach - down to about 30N 73W by May 18, where the easterly's kicked in and on a port tack, beam reach, first light air then stronger as we worked south arrived in MOW late in the day May 21.

2)May 15 departure for Bermuda -Fast broad reach out to 70W by May 18, winds went to the NE 15 - close hauled into BA by late in the day May 20.

3) May 29 departure for MOW - winds SW 15, rode this on a close reach across the stream to 34N 74W, the wind goes to the NW, the steer rumb line to MOW, with winds generally S SE 10-15, motoring in the last day June 4th.

Once in the ABACOS the weather seemed less that ideal with strong East winds, rain and TSs for, it seems like, most of the time. nice calm days about every 3 or 5 days.

In later in june the weather got a little better, but still shots of 20 kt eastern winds every 3 days.

Looking for a departure home, late in june had a stationary front along the eastern seaboard locking in a huge line of thunderstorms in the gulf stream which didn't clear until July 2-3. We choose ( in our virtual cruise) to depart Walkers Cay on July 4th with some of those good East winds at 15 knots. On a track due north we made great time on a beam to broad reach, probably double reefed and still going 7 knots. We stayed out of the gs because of the TS's that were still spotty. turning NE at 30N, then converged with the GS at 34N 75W on July 7. We got back into the Bay on July 9th, and then weathered severe thunderstorms and heavy rain as we worked our ways north to Kent Island and home.

Another option to avoid the thunderstorms would have been to return via Bermuda, which locked under the High pressure did not experience all the wet stormy conditions that were prevalent along the coast.

All and all an interesting exercise. I was a little disheartened by the less that ideal weather in the Abacos. but I must remind myself, its the journey, not the destination .... that's what we say....
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