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Old 26-08-2008, 05:20   #16
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Originally Posted by mauiboy86 View Post
So when heading to 65 should we just pick a point at say 25n 65w or do we base it on where the tradewinds start?
That time of year (if no tropical storms are about) the weather comes off the East Coast as cold fronts driven by low pressure areas. You need to make sure that you time your departure so that you are able to cross the Gulf Stream without experiencing winds from the northern quadrants. Such winds can really make life unpleasant in the Stream.

Once the Gulf Stream is behind you, the strategy is to make as much easting as you can, any way you can, until you get to 64 or 65 West Latitude. Conventional wisdom says 65 W, but in the three passages I've made 64 W would have been fine. In fact, on one trip the wind went SW, and we would have been beating into it if we had reached 65 W.

You'll probably find the Trades at about 24 N, if you're lucky. Maybe 23 N. Before you find the Trades, you'll probably run out of wind and have to motor. You'll need as much fuel as you can carry to make sure you have enough. Some I know who have left from Virginia have run out, and diverted to Bermuda to re-fuel. On one of our passages, we never lost the wind after crossing the Stream. We were able to ride a strong cold front all the way to the Trades. The only motoring during the entire passage was in light southeasterlies as we left the Chesapeake Bay.

You can find Gulf Stream analyses here: OCEANOGRAPHIC PRODUCTS
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Old 26-08-2008, 11:51   #17
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I would also note that since you must leave in October...that the latter half of the month is much less prone to hurricanes and TS's than the 1st half.

http://stormcarib.com/climatology/im...007_weekly.png

Note...blue is TS...red Cat1-2...pink Cat3+
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Old 27-09-2008, 21:55   #18
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I have been using this websites wind feature to try and predict a clean crossing time. The forecast goes out 180 hours but that changes daily it seems.

North Atlantic Surf Report (STORMSURF)

We would like to try and leave on the first of Oct. and it looks like there is a little storm heading North East pretty quickly on that day. I wonder if it would be feasable to try and catch the later half of that or the tail end as a SW wind would be excellent for our easting. After that passes its paretty quiet until around 175 hours where a tropical wave is east of the islands.

Any thoughts?
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Old 28-09-2008, 09:01   #19
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Take a look at this site: Windfinder-Charleston Like the site you referenced, this one uses global models to come up with weather forecasts. There's no human interpretation involved. My experience is that they can be pretty good for a few days out, but can miss exceptional weather conditions on a local scale. They won't help you at all in the Gulf Stream. In my opinion, it's a bit risky to trust raw model output as your only source of weather forecasts.

This model predicts that the wind will be clocking as you leave, coming around through the northern quadrant to the east. When will you be crossing the Gulf Stream? The winds predicted for Charleston could be doubled in strength in the Stream, and if they're from the northern quadrants, as predicted, you'll have some really nasty conditions to contend with. The Gulf Stream makes it's own weather, and it's almost always more severe than you're used to seeing close inshore.

I also suggest you keep an eye on Dr. Jeff Master's site, Weather Underground. He's been following an area of disturbed weather near the Yucatan that's predicted to head for Florida. Whether it crosses Florida and heads across your intended route is unknown at this point, but possible. Here's what Dr. Masters says about it, as of yesterday...

"A 1008 mb low pressure system in the Western Caribbean, just east of Belize and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, has the potential for some slow development over the next few days. Visible satellite images show a modest-sized area of heavy thunderstorms that is currently not increasing in size. QuikSCAT from this morning showed top winds near 45 mph offshore of Belize in the heaviest thunderstorm activity, but no sign of a surface circulation. Wind shear is about 10-20 knots over the region, which is low enough to allow some slow development. NHC is giving this system a low (<20% chance) of developing into a tropical depression by Monday. Most of the models predict the low will start to develop over the next few days, although interaction with the landmass of the Yucatan Peninsula will be a problem for it. The low should lift northeastwards beginning Monday, and the west coast of Florida can anticipate heavy rains from this system by Wednesday. NOAA is predicting up to four inches of rain may fall over southern Florida"

You might consider spending a few bucks and engaging a weather routing firm to help you plan your departure date and route. Trying to figure out what the offshore weather is going to do in hurricane season is not something to risk your life or boat on. I've used Commander's Weather with good results. Jenifer Clark is good, too: Jenifer Clark's Gulf Stream. Herb Hilgenberg will help you for free, although many send him a voluntary contribution to help offset his costs of running his setup: South Bound II VAX498 You'll need a SSB to talk with him offshore.

Watch out for the eddies on the other side of the Gulf Stream. You can add or lose a knot or two, depending which side of them you sail on.

Good luck!
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Old 14-10-2008, 19:45   #20
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Well, we made it finally to our destination, the British Virgin Islands.
We left on October first around noon after finding that both fuel gauges that we had St Barts install the days prior were both malfunctioning. As we filled the tanks the needles didn’t move and that’s not good. After a few words with St Barts (the boat brokerage) we had our good friend Rob at the boat to make things right. We never got the new gauges to work but Rob was able to get our original digital gauge working again. We left with 180 gallons of diesel, and we estimated that would be enough to motor for 5 days at 2300 rpms or approximately 750 nautical miles. The total mileage from Charleston to Tortola is about 1,300 nautical miles.
Along for the trip were two recruits, Josh and Austin from our STCW95 class the week prior. The STCW95 is a safety training for offshore vessels in foreign countries and is required to work in the BVI.
Josh was working towards his captain’s license, had just completed Seachool and had good sailing abilities, Austin was interested in finding work in St Thomas and had been a Bosons mate on the aircraft carrier Nimitz.
The first 24 hours at sea are always a headache, especially since we were to be crossing the gulf stream for around 12 of those hours. We had a nice 15kt SW wind which got us a top speed that first day of 13.5kts and covered over 200 nautical miles. Our first squall hit in the early morning hours of the first day which set the mood for the next 24 hours. The seas were quite rough but the winds were good as we sailed South East towards I64. (aka 65 degrees west) The goal is to sail as far east as possible before hitting the easterly tradwinds creating a nice beam reach for most of the trip.
By the second day some of us were getting our sea legs while others were still losing what food they had left In their bellies. Everyone is usually a bit green for the first two days of an offshore trip, it sure is nice to get a full meal in once you feel better.
On day 4 we decided to start turning more southerly as the XM weather showed NE winds at 15kts which if actually happened would be perfect. The winds were a bit late moving North and continued East for another 24 hours causing rough seas on the nose along with a large N swell creating confused seas causing the boat to pound, shake and rattle over every wave for over 24 hours. It is hard to sleep when you feel like the front of the boat is being torn off. We could have turned more Southerly but going south too soon only prolongs the pain as nobody wants to beat into the trades for 5 days.
On the morning of day 5 Josh and Austin witnessed a strange occurrence, Austin was on watch when the electronic autopilot went on the fritz. The boat started veering in circles. He immediately went to Josh who was sleeping on deck. Josh awoke and immediately looked about and saw a small erratic light off the port beam about 50ft away. As the boat came about again the light was on the starboard side then disappeared. At first I didn’t believe the story as the Garmin GPS didn’t show any anomalies but later in the day I reviewed the ships Raymarine and noticed two tight circles in the track corresponding exactly to their story. We are not sure what happened but it didn’t happen again. We did however see two strange bright flashes days later within feet of the stern and one in the cockpit, we could never figure out what it was.
Day 6,7,8 were uneventful as the trades dissipated slowing our progress to about 4 knots and eventually disappeared all together. We were 400 nautical miles from the BVI and we had 55 gallons of diesel left. We decided to motor at 5kts burning about ½ gallon per hour. With luck we would have some wind to help push us along. The wind didn’t show up until the morning of day 8 and brought us safely into Road town with 20 gallons of fuel to spare.

We had to clear customs before the crew could leave the boat and of course we had to declare the boats arms or the sawed off pistal grip 12 guage with 25 rounds of 3inch 00buckshot. The check in at customs took way too long especially after a long trip to the police headquarters to lock the gun up until we leave.
The only way to work n the BVI is to have a VISA which can take up to 10 months to acquire, fortunately we found an attorney of sorts to help in the matter promising a three month turnaround. We should be good as the BVI allows up to 7 charter pickups without Visas.
That night, after a good meal of pizza we had a few drinks at the Village Cay Marina and happened to meet back up with the customs agent Brian who helped us earlier in the day. He and his friend Deon were extremely nice and we all exchanged stories and thoughts on the current economic crises that has pleagued the past few weeks. We plan to take them for a day sail sometime soon after we finish exploring the islands.

Josh and Austin decided to head off in the morning on their way to more adventures, Josh is contemplating a delivery to Brazil from Charleston and Austin already found work in St Thomas and possibly San Juan PR. After they headed out, Joey and I went shopping to refill our daily consumption, filled the fuel tanks at $6.00 per gallon and headed off to Peter Island.
Peter Island is a nice little spot just across the channel from Tortola, about a 30 minute sail. We anchored in Deadmans Bay next to the Peter Island Resort. The resort and Island are owned by the Amway Company and I believe a one night stay including meals starts around $500. We scouted out the different bays by dingy looking for a place to stow our 17, 5 gallon jerry cans which helped us to the islands. We decided on Deadmans Island just a short ride from Deadmans Bay. I felt like we were doing something wrong or would be thought of as drug shippers as we put 3 cans each in black plastic garbage bags, loaded them all in the dingy and unloaded them on the island. Brian from Customs had mentioned that there are certain bays where people do drop off loads of cocain and other stuff which is picked up and sent north to America. We dumped them all behind some bushes and can pick them up later when we need them.

The next islands were Spanish town on Virgin Gorda, Salt Island, Cooper Island while we didn’t anchor at the Baths yet we will later as the weather was pretty bad.
Last night we stayed at Trellis Bay on Beef Island, interested little place with a few shops and restaurants and all within a stones throw of the airport. I guess its kind of the unofficial airport waiting room. Internet is easy to be had at most locations but is hard to keep it for very long from the boat.

Today (10-12-08) we sailed from Trellis Bay up to North Sound on Virgin Gorda, about 1.5 hours in 22knots of wind, all upwind of course. North Sound is a beautiful place with a few different high end resorts. The season hasn’t quite started yet so its still pretty dead. The grocery stores are not even open in some places until next week. There is a small passage between the Bitter End and Necker Island where I saw some kiteboarders today, I guess that is one of the best places in the Islands. I still can’t figure out where they launch from. I brought along my kites and boards so hopefully I will get some time to play.
Fate has some very cool features but my favorite has to be the 3 underwater lights at the stern. At anchorages we turn the lights on which penetrate 45 feet into the water, creating a bright blue glow around the boat. Large Tarpon and other smaller fish constantly swarm beneath in what seems a feeding frenzy. Makes me think twice about swimming at night with those lights on.

Tuesday, 10-14-08

Yesterday we left the North Sound on Virgin Gorda and sailed downwind to Yost Vandyke, about 20 miles and 3 hours later we pulled in to an empty bay. We checked out with customs and sailed over to Caneel Bay for the night. The hotel is extremely nice from what I could see from the bay, we had not yet checked in with customs in St John so we could not leave the boat. We turned on the underwater lights as soon as it was dark and jumped in the water with all the fishes. I got spooked when I saw a 12 inch jellyfish swim by my head. After getting out of the water the generator started acting up saying low oil pressure. We shut everything down and went to bed. In the morning we changed the oil and she seems to be ok now.
After checking in with customs we headed by dingy down to Great Cruz Bay so Joey could get a cup of Starbucks Espresso (4shots on ice with low fat milk)… That really puts him in a good mood!
We have been looking for a good anchorage to settle in with a good internet connection (free) and good cell service which is compatible with our US services. We headed to Red Hook on St Thomas, anchored and went ashore for lunch. While ording we notice a lot of excitement over on the tv and after walking over the check it out noticed that a tropical storm would be hitting in the next 24hours. Now it looks like it will be a Cat 1 hurricane. We quickly ate lunch, got back to the boat and headed for the fuel dock. $350 later we were topped off and headed straight for Road Town on Tortola, to the sheltered anchorage of Village Cay Marina.
In all the excitement, I happened to smash my little toe on the genoa sheet block and heard a popping noise. Not sure if its broken but it sure as hell hurts.
We got to Tortola in under 2 hours where our protective moorage awaited us. Luckily the slip was available as the only other option was to wait out the storm at anchor which would not be fun.
After getting fate tied up like she is caught in a spider web, we decided to lower the Genoa (jib sail) but after 3 attempts she would not lower and seemed to be catching on the furling track set screws which came undone. Off I went up the forestay with my allen wrench and tightened about 30 setscrews which were all lose or almost falling out. The Genoa came down without a hitch after that and we flaked it and put it away.
The storm should be here in the next 24 hours and I hope its not too bad. They report expect 60kt plus winds so most likey a cat 1. I feel pretty secure here and hope everything will be ok.
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Old 15-10-2008, 06:38   #21
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Congratulations, Mauiboy! Glad you had a good passage. I was wondering if you'd left Charleston. Thanks for posting your trip report--it's always nice to hear how things turned out.

Good luck with Omar. I'm putting up my storm shutters this morning.
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Old 15-10-2008, 11:16   #22
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Please keep us advised of the conditions on Tortola... have many friend and a boat on the hard. Hope all fair well and the best to you and your crew.
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Old 18-10-2008, 17:04   #23
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Omar was nothing but a small windstorm, we tool all necessary precautions and moored her at Village Cay in Road Harbor. Winds were as high as 60kts in the gusts but thats about all. I slept right through it

If anyone is interested, I am keeping a blog of our travels. Caribbean Sailing Adventures

We are currently in St Thomas off the new Marina, Grand Yacht Haven which is exactly that. The anchorage is nice and boats come and go.
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Old 18-10-2008, 18:21   #24
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Welcome Maui,
You are actually anchored off of Yacht Haven Grande. If there are any questions I can answer, or local advice/suggestions I can offer, don't hesitate to ask.

Nice blog, enjoy your stay.
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Old 18-10-2008, 18:29   #25
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[QUOTE=mauiboy86;216645]Omar was nothing but a small windstorm...


photo link

http://www.onepaper.com/stcroixvi/va...408,1&req=full

I understand that MANY boats were sunk... most, apparently, due to poor preparation.

Glad you guys are well


mm
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