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Old 19-05-2014, 16:31   #1
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Sailing Across Hurricane Area...

Hello to all
I am about to depart from Chiapas to Galapagos. This is a crossing through the ITCZ (Intertropical convergence zone) and therefore the northern stretch as per now hurricane season.
The departure is at Latitude 14 with course 135 to 140. Probably not a direct course but tacking.

Does anyone know at what latitude the hurricanes do start? I have been researching and already Bahia del Sol, El Salvador (Latitude 13.2) is called "hurricane free".
How complicated is the weather condition in the Intertropical convergence zone? How long is the ITCZ to cross, is it 100 miles or more?

Thanks for posts with your practical experience!
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Old 19-05-2014, 18:07   #2
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Re: Sailing Across Hurricane Area...

Unless you want 30+ unsolicited, different answers from people who never sail or own a boat on this forum, try Cornells Ocean Atlas. It's up to date with the weather pattern changes, due to climate change and will answer any and all your questions.
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Old 19-05-2014, 20:02   #3
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Re: Sailing Across Hurricane Area...

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Originally Posted by Celestialsailor View Post
Unless you want 30+ unsolicited, different answers from people who never sail or own a boat on this forum, try Cornells Ocean Atlas. It's up to date with the weather pattern changes, due to climate change and will answer any and all your questions.





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Old 20-05-2014, 03:36   #4
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Re: Sailing Across Hurricane Area...

This guy(god, guru) should be able to help. Once you get further wast you will hear him mentioned more and more but he still gives passage advice for your longitudes.
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Old 20-05-2014, 10:21   #5
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Re: Sailing Across Hurricane Area...

Thank you Celestialsailor and yes, Cornell is the basic information, as also the pilot charts of the Defense Mapping Agency of the USA. Nevertheless I thought to pick up some "practical experience of cruisers". Sorry, my mistake! I am new to this forum and heard, here are true sailors...
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Old 20-05-2014, 10:44   #6
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Re: Sailing Across Hurricane Area...

The true sailors don't bother with posters who get snotty, but FYI you are leaving late-- there were 3 tropical storms in your path May-June 2012, and you can find out more at

Historical Hurricane Tracks
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Old 20-05-2014, 12:54   #7
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Re: Sailing Across Hurricane Area...

Thank you Donradcliffe
The hurricane historical I have already gone thru and June is usually a more quiet month. The effective season is starting at July and building up until end of November. As of the Gulf of Mexico I am used to Thunder storms at night. A tropical depression has not necessarily to be "not for sailing".
Of course I am watching the weather window and as per earth.nullschool.net, passageweather.com, hurricane analysis and the pilot charts I can prepare a lot but not perfect. I havenīt been crossing the ITCZ and I wonder if it is a disturbed sea or a quiet one. Practical experience from sailors who were there at any time a year would have been very helpful.
As per the history of hurricanes, there has been only one month free of hurricanes, which is February. All the remaining month have been hit, so - the last word is of our Lord!
Tks for the info and fair winds...
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Old 20-05-2014, 14:05   #8
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Re: Sailing Across Hurricane Area...

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The true sailors don't bother with posters who get snotty, but FYI you are leaving late-- there were 3 tropical storms in your path May-June 2012, and you can find out more at

Historical Hurricane Tracks
You should write a book.
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Old 20-05-2014, 19:39   #9
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Re: Sailing Across Hurricane Area...

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I havenīt been crossing the ITCZ and I wonder if it is a disturbed sea or a quiet one. Practical experience from sailors who were there at any time a year would have been very helpful.
Your route from Chiapas to the Galapagos is mostly south. You will spend much of that time in the ITCZ, and currently there is a monsoon trough right across your path. We've been sailing in it for the last couple of weeks, on and off, as we move along the Cent Am. coast towards Mexico from Panama.

Based on our experience (now and a few other periods sailing in ITCZ elsewhere) you will have calms and squalls. The calms will be too little wind to sail. The squalls may have wind, maybe just torrential rain. Often, and most frightening, will be heavy lightning, with frequent close strikes. We just grit our teeth and hope for the best during these lightning storms. A number of boats in Panama get hit by lightning every year and it is devastating.

The convection which causes squalls can be strong. Maybe not often hurricane strength in this region, but plenty strong enough.

Then, as you proceed south, you will run into light, mostly contrary, winds. Beating into light headwinds is slow and frustrating, however, motoring all the way is no fun either, and will cost a lot for fuel, not to mention wear and tear on the equipment, and strong possibility of failures.

So, I'd skip the Galapagos, go west, hit the NE trades, and cross the ITCZ around 128, where it is often narrower, and go to Marquesas. It is also cheaper.

If you want to go to Galp. go along the coast, got to Equador, and then a short trip out to the west.
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Old 21-05-2014, 12:52   #10
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Re: Sailing Across Hurricane Area...

Made the sail to the Marquesas in June from San Diego. Research showed that once the lows leave the Gulf of Panama, they pretty much stay between 10 and 20 degrees North Latitude. Not sure if that holds up for the Gulf of Panama, however. We had a low pressure system turn into a Cat 3 Hurricane and head west soon after committing to crossing 20N. We would have been about 8N by the time it reached us if it hadn't disintegrated about 200 miles east of us and slightly above 10N. Living in Hawaii, see the lows that head west most do stay between 10 and 20N. The few that veer north die a quick death in the colder waters above 20N.

Haven't looked into the restrictions on cruising yachts in the Galapagos but the trend was to make it increasingly undesirable to go there. Think yachts were restricted to one Island and very stringent requirements and short allowed stay time the rule. When we looked into it, the restrictions just didn't make sense to go there especially with the notoriously fickle winds around and East of the Islands.
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Old 21-05-2014, 13:50   #11
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Re: Sailing Across Hurricane Area...

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Made the sail to the Marquesas in June from San Diego. Research showed that once the lows leave the Gulf of Panama, they pretty much stay between 10 and 20 degrees North Latitude. Not sure if that holds up for the Gulf of Panama, however. We had a low pressure system turn into a Cat 3 Hurricane and head west soon after committing to crossing 20N. We would have been about 8N by the time it reached us if it hadn't disintegrated about 200 miles east of us and slightly above 10N. Living in Hawaii, see the lows that head west most do stay between 10 and 20N. The few that veer north die a quick death in the colder waters above 20N.

Haven't looked into the restrictions on cruising yachts in the Galapagos but the trend was to make it increasingly undesirable to go there. Think yachts were restricted to one Island and very stringent requirements and short allowed stay time the rule. When we looked into it, the restrictions just didn't make sense to go there especially with the notoriously fickle winds around and East of the Islands.
Thanks for the information.
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Old 21-05-2014, 14:10   #12
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Re: Sailing Across Hurricane Area...

Like this one now, and its only may.

Not much chance of it turning nto anything, but its difficult to tell
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Old 21-05-2014, 14:50   #13
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Re: Sailing Across Hurricane Area...

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Like this one now, and its only may.

Not much chance of it turning nto anything, but its difficult to tell

earth :: an animated map of global wind and weather

On observation! Last week turned into nothing. These ones (there are 2 of them) the one eastern was heading north into Acapulco, but turned west a few hours ago. The 2nd one was heading north and also turned west a few hours ago...
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Old 28-05-2014, 14:19   #14
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Re: Sailing Across Hurricane Area...

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Like this one now, and its only may.

Not much chance of it turning nto anything, but its difficult to tell
Happened he turned into Amanda, Cat 4 Hurricane and has been stable for a few days. Amanda was downgraded to TT yesterday, while I was heading south and this morning Amanda was upgraded again, since she is moving now straight into Baja California.

Hurricanes are not a statistic, they are living entities and predictions like, we will have 11, 16 or 25 hurricanes this year are speculactions, thanks to Apple, Microsoft and all the computer companies, who have to sell those toys.

Never trust a computer, use your experience, common sense and a good sextant....
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