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Old 06-12-2009, 22:59   #1
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Christmas Winds?

Can anyone give me some information on the Christmas winds for the BVI and how I should anticipate they will affect my sailing itinerary?

Thanks!

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Old 07-12-2009, 04:22   #2
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The "Christmas Winds" are basically reinforced tradewinds, and usually kick up in late December (hence the name), but could occur any time during the winter months. The trades normally blow from the easterly sector in the teens, but if the mid-Atlantic High gets well established, it will drive the winds up into the twenties or even low thirties (knots).

It can be predicted a few days in advance, but if you're chartering, you'll just have to make the best of what you get. The Sir Francis Drake Channel is relatively enclosed by the BVI islands, so you don't get large, wind-driven waves there. So if the Christmas Winds come when you're there, just reef down and enjoy the sailing!

Here's a good source for seven day wind/wave forecasts: Windfinder-Beef Island, Tortola
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Old 07-12-2009, 06:27   #3
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The winds have been up here in St. Maarten for about a week. White caps in the passage to St. Barth's. The SunSail boats leaving Oyster Pond are getting quite a ride as they go through the reef.
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Old 07-12-2009, 07:30   #4
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Yes, same here in Panama: winds are up!

The BVI should be great during the Christmas winds for chartering, assuming that the charterer is a sailor with sufficient experience.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 10-12-2009, 06:12   #5
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Aleyska, when the Christmas winds arrive the trades back from east to north, and often raise a big northerly swell, which can make many of the anchorages untenable. You just have to pick your anchorages carefully, and be early if you want to pick up a mooring, before they all get taken. As someone else commented, the waters in the Sir Francis Drake Channel will be calmer and the sailing can be exhilarating.
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Old 10-12-2009, 08:05   #6
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Sobriyah: That is not correct! What you are describing are the northern fronts coming off the US east coast, not the reinforced trades.

With the reinforced trades, winds in the Caribbean are E-NE to NE and go to 20-25-30 knots sustained. Waves are from the same direction.

In the winter you get the norther's with the swell from the north; in the summer you have the tropical waves. Both have wind shifts that can be used to your advantage.

cheers,
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:30   #7
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Well we will just have to beg to differ on that Jedi. I have been in both the BVI's and Antigua when the Christmas winds have blown strong, and in both instances the wind backed north and blew the cobwebs out for days if not weeks at a time. All the anchorages that were open to the north were untenable with the swell that was raised.
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Old 10-12-2009, 19:59   #8
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Okay, I just Googled this to death and it turns out that indeed, the northers are called Christmas Winds in the Virgins. But these are the northers and not the tradewinds nor reinforced tradewinds. Like I wrote, the northers are the fronts coming down from the US east coast and yes, they provide high winds and seas from the North.

In other places, the Christmas Winds are the reinforced tradewinds which, in the Caribbean, always blow from the E-NE. There are no tradewinds blowing from the north.

Edit: I'm sailing in the Caribbean for 7 years now but never spend much time in the Virgins, let's say 4 weeks in all those years, so I never picked up that local variation in the meaning of Christmas Winds ;-)

cheers,
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Old 10-12-2009, 20:03   #9
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Thanks all for the great discussions and information. I appreciate all the help. That's what I like about this forum!
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