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Old 28-01-2016, 09:02   #241
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Re: 2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
I have been known to sit and wait a few weeks for a favourable pattern to develop if not working to someone else's schedule.[/SIZE][/FONT]
Yea Delivery captains go when they have to

But for everyone else there is a weather window. And its NOT Febrary, March, April or early May, is it??

You are primarily a delivery captain, so give your advice as to the BEST time to go.

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Old 29-01-2016, 16:06   #242
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Re: 2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

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April is too early for that passage.
Early May is too early for that passage.
Mid May is too early for that passage.
That passage has a 6 week window from late May thru June imho.
July is too late.


.
Disagree.. There is no such a rule particularly over the last decade where the trade winds became more unpredictable.

I did my passage in late March from Tortalla to Horta in 14 days, had nothing more than 32 kts, nothing less than 15 kts of wind. Excellent sailing , mostly under spinneaker surfing up to 25 lts of speed with a 43 ft catamaran.
And I am not a delivery captain either..

I know many people who did it in the window you described but arrived in Horta in miserable conditions with broken mast, ripped off sails, etc...

I believe there is no absolute right or wrong season and for sure, you need a bit of luck as well..

Cheers

Yeloya
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Old 29-01-2016, 16:31   #243
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pirate Re: 2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Yea Delivery captains go when they have to

But for everyone else there is a weather window. And its NOT Febrary, March, April or early May, is it??

You are primarily a delivery captain, so give your advice as to the BEST time to go.

Mark... even on my own boats with the SMX-Azores to be honest both times April 10th and June 14th I jumped off starting a period when the winds were near SE for a week+ window..
Gut feeling.. June is a 60/40 time to be closing the Azores lately as the High has been weaker.. or more mobile of late.
I honestly feel its the luck of the draw.. though I confess to tracking the weather patterns well ahead of time.. get a feel of the rhythm.. once I sail the sea and sky are my forecasters and I get there when I arrive..
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Old 29-01-2016, 16:39   #244
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Re: 2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

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once I sail the sea and sky are my forecasters and I get there when I arrive...
...and the experience ranges from sublime to arduous, to disastrous. Cheers, Boatie.

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Old 29-01-2016, 16:44   #245
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Re: 2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

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once I sail the sea and sky are my forecasters and I get there when I arrive..
You're too modest.

How we all were in awe when we tracked your position against the WX charts (which you didn't have) -- how well you performed when you ducked south in the bad and climbed north in the good.

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Old 29-01-2016, 17:30   #246
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Re: 2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

I have been looking at this area (as a weather router for my clients) from 2008 onwards.

For smaller boats, or boats with weaker crews, anything till mid-May seemed pretty early. I think actually July was better than May. June was best.

We sailed this passage twice, both times in June: one time was OK (2006), the other time was fabulous (I will count this as an outlier). 2013.

Sure thing, 7 years is not enough to make any statistically valid conclusions. Just that in this particular period wx in June and July was fine while spring storms got very low and very nasty all the way into May.

Now this thing. Alex. What a stinker and bang in January. Just imagine what surprises will May, June and July have for us this year. Ouch.

b.
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Old 29-01-2016, 17:39   #247
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pirate Re: 2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

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Originally Posted by SaltyMonkey View Post
You're too modest.

How we all were in awe when we tracked your position against the WX charts (which you didn't have) -- how well you performed when you ducked south in the bad and climbed north in the good.

Building swell from the NW.. GTFS..
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Old 29-01-2016, 20:10   #248
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Re: 2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

Monte,
I'm with Mark, Ann, b, etc., this is a heart-wrenching story to read.
Truly a tragedy.




As someone with a good deal of offshore experience in monohulls, but not multi's (except for fun with some beach cats in my youth, I'm strictly a monohull sailor)....and with a good deal of experience with a US East Coast - to EU / UK, I'd like to make a couple comments and ask a question that some of you with offshore multihull experience can answer...


First some polite comments:
a) In the modern parlance, there is no such thing as a "weather window" for a sailboat on a multi-week-long non-trade-wind passage!!
(Gosh, how I wish we could somehow remove this phrase from our language! )


b) There is a big difference between the weather that can (and does) effect you on an eastbound Atlantic crossing, depending on whether you leave from the US East Coast versus the Caribbean...

The continental weather coming off the US East Coast can be a real bitch....and, unlike "tropical weather", it moves pretty damn fast!!

{Back in the 1970's, my parents left Ft. Lauderdale on April 2nd...headed for the UK...via Bermuda, and Azores....it was COLD and ROUGH the whole way....and they SAILED!!
(they sailed a fairly new, and perfectly equipped/maintained Hinckley)
They lost their engine (broken piston and connecting rod), just one day east of Bermuda...made some repairs in Azores, thanks to US military mechanics stationed there...but engine blew up again, just a day out of Azores....
So, they sailed into the harbor in Falmouth, England....until they got in, and then launched the old Zodiac inflatable, and used the outboard to assist in berthing!

I flew to Europe and sailed with them in the warmth of the summer, for a few seasons, before sailing westbound..

My lesson learned from them:
April and May were way too early to cross from the US to Europe, even leaving from S. Florida!!

And, these lessons have been borne-out with my further experiences over the past 40 some years...
FYI, my last eastbound crossing (in 2007), I left S. Florida on June 26th, arrived in Horta 20 days later...}

No matter where you leave from, you should be watching the weather patterns and rhythms for weeks before your planned departure....and hopefully you'll make your decisions based on these weather patterns and from input from some seasoned meteorologists...


c) Mark's observations mirror my own, in that many of the "normal" routes / times for this passage have been based on both:
-- older sailing vessels (many with little fuel and/or small horsepower auxiliaries)
-- older, historic weather patterns


d) Phil's talent for reading the sky / weather, is rare!
But, his procedure of watching / reading the weather patterns is done by most seasoned ocean mariners, and IS something that any sailor can do!


e) There seems to be WAY TOO MUCH reliance on raw computer model data (GRIB weather charts), especially since most cruisers using them don't know they are raw computer model data, and that almost all cruises using them, seem to only request/use ONE MODEL...
(if you're not a meteorologist, and/or don't have the talent that Phil has, why in the world would you ignore those experienced / seasoned marine meteorologist that prepare forecasts / weather charts multiple times each day and want to look at raw computer models???)



Now, here's my question about modern Cats:
I have both a serious drogue and a huge 16' Fiorentino Offshore para-Anchor, as well as the 500' of big rode for them, the rugged hard points to attach them, etc., (have deployed a big sea anchor only once, about 40 years ago) but have practiced all of this on my current boat, in fairly benign conditions....BUT...

But, with a modern Cat, will they not lay to a big para-anchor?? Even with a bridle??
Is the only storm tactic to run downwind with bare poles, dragging a drogue??

Sorry to ask such simplistic questions, but I'd really like to learn about storm tactics for modern Cats...
Thanks in advance!




Fair winds, and my thoughts and prayers are still with the family who lost their daughter in this tragedy.


John
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Old 30-01-2016, 04:09   #249
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pirate Re: 2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Now, here's my question about modern Cats:
I have both a serious drogue and a huge 16' Fiorentino Offshore para-Anchor, as well as the 500' of big rode for them, the rugged hard points to attach them, etc., (have deployed a big sea anchor only once, about 40 years ago) but have practiced all of this on my current boat, in fairly benign conditions....BUT...

But, with a modern Cat, will they not lay to a big para-anchor?? Even with a bridle??
Is the only storm tactic to run downwind with bare poles, dragging a drogue??

Sorry to ask such simplistic questions, but I'd really like to learn about storm tactics for modern Cats...
Thanks in advance!




Fair winds, and my thoughts and prayers are still with the family who lost their daughter in this tragedy.

+A1

John
No storm tactic's tried yet.. no real storms experienced in a Cat...
However took a Lagoon W-E in Feb '14... only hit one bad patch when I detoured N to the Azores due to complete elec failure and light winds making further Easting under sail alone torturous..
Got banged by one of the NW'ers I'd been ducking.. I was hove to in 35-40kts, 4m sea's and she seemed comfortable.. till around 0300 when the silly roller attached to the leech that takes the reefing line ripped off..
Stowed the main and as sea's had stopped the occasional breakers I just furled the fore and let her drift till things settled and the wind veered.
Have not really figured what exactly I'd do in a F11.. only done that+ in mono's and tried all recommendations.. settled on hove-to and in real SHTF situations I'll lie a-hull...
With Cats.. I'll likely try all as well.. but for hove-to...? I'd want traditional ring feeds for my reefing lines for a start..
Whatever feels right and comfortable for the moment I guess..
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Old 30-01-2016, 05:55   #250
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2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

I have to agree on the weather windows John. We always take advice from more experienced sources to try to pick the best times and windows, along with our own experiences. That said, last year crossing the Atlantic we joined the Atlantic odyssey rally, which goes a little bit against my better judgement of leaving on a set date, rather than at the best time. For one thing it leaves quite early on November 15, which I assume has more to do with rally organisation, and allowing sailors to spend maximum time in the Caribbean before moving on than being the best weather window. We joined with the idea that if forecast conditions weren't good, we would postpone our departure. Come departure date we were excited to leave, but a decent low was brewing and due to hit our course 3 days out, with 45kt wind and 7m seas from NNW. We decided to leave anyway and the forecast low arrived on schedule. I did propose to Jen 2 days out that we could sail back to the canaries to avoid It, but she was excited to experience a storm 🙈 so we continued on course. A couple of rally boats stopped in the canaries to wait. As the wind and seas built we reduced sail and continued on our SW course until boat speeds were a bit high and 15kt surfs were common at around 35kt and the skies promised more, so we dropped the main, reefed the jib quite small and shy reached. Basically we were preparing Sephina for worse conditions if they arrived. With a small reefed jib and wheel lashed to starboard, Sephina sat comfortable at about 20' to the wind and waves, and gently rolled over the swells with 2-3kt boat speed, with winds gusting close to 50kt. She never felt out of control and I would expect this configuration would be fine with another 10-20kt of wind as well. We could have probably sailed on in Those conditions but I wanted to take the opportunity to test storm tactics, even though it was nowhere near storm conditions. For me, being a surfer, 6m waves are bloody big and I hadn't sailed in that size swell before. I was pleasantly surprised at the difference between a 6m ocean swell and a 6m wave breaking on my head in 2m of water...chalk and cheese . I would have calls the waves 4m, so I guess it was somewhere between the two.
Most of the fleet we were sailing with ran with the wind. I was concerned about Africa becoming a lee shore if conditions deteriorated, as well as losing ground to windward which partly affected our choice of tactics. Several of the fleet sustained damage, ripped sails etc.
We continued on our way after 8hrs or so once conditions moderated. Rested and confident in our boats and our own ability to handle less than ideal conditions. We do have a Jordan series drogue onboard, but I can't imagine deploying it unless coming into conditions such as those experienced during the Azores storm, in which case I would have probably done exactly as the other skipper did.
In the past we usually wait for ideal conditions for a passage 10-20kt, seas under 2m. Now we are a bit more flexible and last passage we departed with a small craft advisory, 30kt and 4m on the nose, simply because we have confidence in ours and our boats ability to handle it. Of course we have backup plans (like turning around and running back to port . ) but on that passage we had a 40kt squall that did t do much except slow us down a bit till it passed.
Regarding weather windows and best times for passages.. I was watching hurricane Alex form and head toward the canaries this January. Often the desired time for a lot of sailors to depart, once the trades have filled in. Anyone without weather updates onboard could easily have sailed directly into Alex if taking the rhumb line from canaries to Antigua. I'm hoping not too many were, but guessing we will hear of some. I also noticed the January Atlantic odyssey departed on schedule and headed out 4 days before it reached the canaries. Most were headed toward Cape Verde to avoid the worst of it and it appears the fleet was unscathed, but really a slight turn south in Alex's track could have been disastrous.
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Old 30-01-2016, 07:02   #251
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Re: 2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

Thanks Barny, John, Phill (boatman) and Monte for good notes, all valuable. (Boaty, thanks for the unusually serious posts. Its good to get your experience).


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Old 30-01-2016, 11:44   #252
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Re: 2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

I'm just an old dinghy sailor who never experienced a true storm at sea. Perhaps others can enlighten me regarding the need for people to be airlifted off what appears to be a perfectly good and seaworthy boat (one that was trailing a line but not, apparently, aJordan series drogue). I would think anyone putting to see would expect to encounter high winds and large seas. Five boats? All needing rescue? I am wondering why the man and child were in the water at all. Were they lost in the act of rescue? I cannot help but note the conditions were not too bad for the chopper crew. Perhaps I will be forgiven for withholding my sympathy except for the child whom I mourn. This looks to me to be another instance of fear and panic aided by the very mixed blessing of modern communication.

Paul

Ooops! After posting this I realized there were an additional 16 pages to this thread--none of which I have read. Please forgive me if the subject of this post has already been aired. I will now return to page one and read the rest of the discussion. Paul
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Old 30-01-2016, 17:41   #253
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Re: 2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

17 pages and I am left with the same thoughts that I had initially at the bottom of page one. One poster said every man has his limit and I certainly agree with that. The Navy Seals have a quitter's bell always at hand during training for that very reason. Every man who enters Seal training is tough, confident, and knows the difficulty that is ahead of him. Yet many ring that bell. I learned in the army that one can operate effectively well in excess of what he thought was his limit when facing circumstances over which he has no control (and having no bell). For many people rescued at sea in the past several decades, the radio was their bell but had they been unable to ring it, they would have surprised themselves by how much they could endure and how much they could do beyond what they had thought was their limit.

I love children and looking at that little girl, so innocent and happy, is heartbreaking. Yet there exists a poster in this thread who wants to do the same thing in the same boat.. He just cannot "get his head around" that boat's sinking. While it is true we don't know the specific circumstances of the loss, l cannot help but think that if that family had been in a Hinckley Pilot lying to a Jordan Series Drogue tragedy would have been averted.

Paul
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Old 31-01-2016, 08:36   #254
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Re: 2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

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(...)

While it is true we don't know the specific circumstances of the loss, l cannot help but think that if that family had been in a Hinckley Pilot lying to a Jordan Series Drogue tragedy would have been averted.

Paul
Paul,

While we do not know the specific circumstances, there is ZERO reason for guessing that boat design played any role.

The other boats reportedly badly hit were i.a. a Swan and an Enderlein. They said the OE got rolled over 8 times (which I later verified to be NOT TRUE). The Swan looks fine, except there are five big Norwegians jumping out of it, as if a duck in the water were safer than a big guy in an apparently very safe design boat.

Please take it from one sailing one of those 'classic', 'seaworthy', 'go everywhere', 'bluewater' designs: there is ZERO bonus to us in heavy weather. A bad storm comes and sweeps over the cruising (mostly) fleet - the boats WILL get affected and there is no design-tied rule to tell you who will make it and who will succumb.

Call it a toss, call it luck, call it uneven extreme wave and wind distribution field related to small, quick moving low pressure systems. Just try to avoid thinking a Hinckley with its legs tied is safer than some other boat when a storm of this magnitude hits the fleet.

With all due respect,
b.
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Old 31-01-2016, 12:44   #255
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Re: 2015 Another bad year in the Azores..?

On "Be Good Too", we don't know if the cleat attachments that he had the drogue on were original, or had been reinforced.

They suffered extremely strong winds, that get up huge seas, and everything changes. Maybe it is that people don't really get it how much force the wind actually has, or how brutal high steep seas are.

Ann
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