A bit time late but I will add the results of our crossing to this thread.
We decided on the more southerly open ocean route due to concerns on with the oil
rigs and such. We stayed well south of them and the shipping
lanes. We could see the lanes on the horizon to the north and kept a sharp watch out for anything to indicate that a ship may be deviating from the lanes due to a out of the normal destination
. We say 5-10 large ships a day and at least 1 or 2 were not following the established routes. Attempted to contact a few by VHF
but never got replies.
We stayed south until we got to the fairway that leads NW to Galveston. We timed our approach to get there by early morning and spent most of the daylight hours transiting. As evening approached we stayed on the very edge of the fairways throughout the night. We took it slow to time our landfall at day break. The closer you get the more confusing the navigational picture becomes. large ships anchored just of the fairway suddenly get underway and others loitering in the fairway changing course to avoid other ships as they transited. All this against the back-lights of navigational markers and oil
rigs. We need three on deck
to maintain sail, operate radar
with chart and another to navigate. With a 4 man crew we were spent by dawn. It was a trying experience.
The gulf was much more beautiful than I would have expected. Stars at night were some of the brightest I have witnessed. Dolphins
and porpoise almost constantly. Small birds riding onboard, hand feeding them as they sit on your shoulder. Luminescence in your wake like I have seldom seen with small explosions of light popping off 2-10 feet behind the boat looking life cherry bombs going off. Many schools of large luminescent squid suddenly flashing just off the beam of the boat, 4-6' long.
We did an early April crossing and avoided the worst weather. Reports of lightening were few and far away. We did manage to catch a few small showers to cool off the day.
I am trucking the boat to San Francisco
soon. I will be glad to not have to mess with the Gulf again.