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Old 02-03-2021, 07:45   #1
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Crossed an Ocean? What was worst weather?

For those who have circumnavigated or done a crossing in the course of their cruising (vs commercial or military), what's the worst weather you encountered? Did you follow seasonal weather patterns? Lessons' Learned?

I delivered trawlers for about 5-years up/down the pacific coast between Alaska and Mexico with occasional trip to Florida. Frequently ran 5-7 days non-stop. Thinking back on my 50k nms, I rarely saw even sustained Force 6 conditions (wind in upper 20s, 3m-4m seas), though Force 5 were common heading north along the coast - the infamous Baja Bash, though usually not longer than 12-hours or so, often less. I did hit a bad run north out of the Panama Canal once and had 3-days of sustained 25-30 kts and 8-foot chop that got really old. Frankly, if that were common, there's no way I could get my wife to go cruising which is why I ask.

Wondering what others have seen on longer crossings?

Peter
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Old 02-03-2021, 07:56   #2
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Sustained 60kts average for 5 days W of the Azores with breaking seas up to 7metres..fortunately long periods so only bad when picked up and thrown by the odd breaker that caught me.. hove to for 5 days with bad visibility much of the time due to torrential rain.
Damn climate change..
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Old 02-03-2021, 08:49   #3
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Re: Crossed an Ocean? What was worst weather?

OK, Boatie, you've got the record



The strongest conditions we've encountered were force 7/8 for several days enroute from Norfolk to Antigua. Came close to diverting to BVI to get a better angle. All our sailing seems to be upwind
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Old 02-03-2021, 09:05   #4
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Re: Crossed an Ocean? What was worst weather?

Chesapeake to the Azores via Bermuda (2016 Europe ARC). We had about 24 hours of 25-30 with gusts in to the lower 40's, following seas about 12'-18' with the occosional 20'+. A little nerve wracking knowing that you're one failure from a situation, but otherwise the biggest issue was not a lot of sleep in those conditions. Fortunately it was mostly over after that 24 hours. Most of the rest of the leg was spent trying to find wind rather than running from it.
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Old 02-03-2021, 09:26   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdazey View Post
OK, Boatie, you've got the record



The strongest conditions we've encountered were force 7/8 for several days enroute from Norfolk to Antigua. Came close to diverting to BVI to get a better angle. All our sailing seems to be upwind
Its a record I share with around 50 other boats caught by the same blow back in 2005, we all had a great time reliving it over beers and G&T's in Peter's once we got to Horta..
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Old 02-03-2021, 09:55   #6
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Re: Crossed an Ocean? What was worst weather?

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Sustained 60kts average for 5 days W of the Azores with breaking seas up to 7metres..fortunately long periods so only bad when picked up and thrown by the odd breaker that caught me.. hove to for 5 days with bad visibility much of the time due to torrential rain.
Damn climate change..
YIKES! That's damn close to Force 10 conditions. Over 5-days, would see occasional wave to 15-meters!!! I'd join my wife in staying ashore for good!

Peter
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Old 02-03-2021, 10:18   #7
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YIKES! That's damn close to Force 10 conditions. Over 5-days, would see occasional wave to 15-meters!!! I'd join my wife in staying ashore for good!

Peter
I was just guessing heights and not wanting to seem extravagant.. its hard to tell looking out a porthole in a battened down boat.. did get green water sweeping over the cabin hatch a few times a day.. worst were nights where all you got in the darkness was the approaching roar then the 'BANG' and the boat took off.
Same as daytime but the darkness makes it scarier..
Mind the Biscay in December on a 22ftr was pretty hairy as well..
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Old 02-03-2021, 10:25   #8
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Re: Crossed an Ocean? What was worst weather?

Three days out of the Canaries heading for Barbados in late November some years ago. We were motor sailing in flat calm conditions and the yacht ahead of us radio that he had been hit by storm force winds. I managed to get the jib down but then the wind hit us and the main was torn apart before I could get to it. We were under bare poles doing 6.5 knots. Not possible to cook food and myself and my wife lay on the floor for 3 days. After that we were goose winged whilst I stitched up the main by hand. Lost a case of beer in the aft cabin that catapulted itself against the wall. The bilges stank of beer and the gas bottles that we had on deck went over the side. Must be really stupid as we did it all again a few years later.
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Old 02-03-2021, 10:25   #9
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Re: Crossed an Ocean? What was worst weather?

This is on the wisdom of using weather routing.

Leaving Bermuda for Azores in May of 2017, we cast off a day before a 60' steel sloop full of young Danes - the Admiral thought them very fetching, I didn't see it, myself. On week out, we saw them on the horizon and talked on the radio. We had just gotten word from our weather router that a gale was developing north of us, so we should abandon the rhumb line route and head distinctly SSE for a couple of days. We shared the information with the Danes, who said they would just plow on through the direct route. We lost them on the horizon ahead of us.

We were glad we listened and cut south, because the remainder of that system hit a day later and gave us 40+ knot winds and 5 meter following seas (which our Antares 44 cat surfed down at 15knots). It was safe, but plenty enough for us.

We arrived at Horta and relaxed. Late the next day, in walks the Danish crew, a little worse for wear. They had been knocked down twice, and one guy had a few home-made stiches in his head from being levitated across the cabin. We bought them beers, commiserated and I tried to keep my gloating non-visible. Of course it's not a race...unless you win!
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Old 02-03-2021, 10:29   #10
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Re: Crossed an Ocean? What was worst weather?

Heading down the coast from Cape Flattery to San Francisco about 150 nm off of Norther California, we experienced sustained Force 9 for about 40 hours, with 7-9m following seas. The boat surfed down the front of the waves and a few big ones broke over the boat. That's when I learned that Dorades should be sealed in offshore conditions like that. Someone asked me if we had deployed our Jordan series drogue - somehow it never occurred to us that we needed it because the boat was flying but manageable with hand steering or even the Hydrovane.

From Mexico to French Polynesia, several days of Force 6/Force 7, but the seas were ok and the boat speed was appreciated despite the bouncing around. A few squalls in the ITCZ produced more intense wind but usually not for more than about 30 minutes.

The admiral was not on board for the BC to Mexico trip. If she had been, she would not have joined the Mexico to FP trip. When the time comes, hopefully soon, she is still wondering about FP to New Zealand.
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Old 02-03-2021, 10:31   #11
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Re: Crossed an Ocean? What was worst weather?

'Worst' is a strange term in sailing and does not always equate to strong winds. Crossing the Atlantic in 2010 had 2 weeks of 3-35kn with big cross seas. Took of every bit of canvas on deck, lost most of the portable electronics and the aft mast. We slept in oilys the entire time all very unpleasant but not worrying we jogged slowly through it under short canvas. What we did need help with was what followed. Super Storm Sandy to so much energy out of the weather pattern that it left a calm covering well over 1,000 miles that persisted for about 4 weeks. Under sail we where making under 50 miles a day and sometime nothing. No we had not got pussed into the Doldrums we where near the center of the trades! If it had not been for the coastguard arranging for a ship to drop fuel to us we would have been out of all supplies well before reaching land. So calms can be at least as challenging as storms.
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Old 02-03-2021, 10:50   #12
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Re: Crossed an Ocean? What was worst weather?

On our Vancouver San Francisco leg, we hit a series of lows causing us to pound windward. I was trying to sleep in the forward berth and the pounding forced water up through the vanity sink, spraying around. Around Cape Mendocino, we heard maydays and other requests for assistance. It was all over one morning, except, we spotted and retrieved an inverted life raft. The Coast Guard sent our a chopper to identify the raft, and monitored us all the way to Pier 39 where they retrieved it for the family of the lost fisherman. Sobering.
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Old 02-03-2021, 10:55   #13
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Re: Crossed an Ocean? What was worst weather?

North Pacific
Gulf of Alaska… just about any time but mostly winter. Worst wx I encountered I was escorting a freighter from Anchorage to Vancouver in July I think. Got so bad the freighter had to turn. Gusts over 100 as that was all our anemometer read.
Used to tow between N Vancouver Island and Portland Or, winters often saw steady 50’s gusting to 90. Have a photo of our recording anemometer, shows the current windspeed of 47 kts and highest gust in the past hour of 94 kts.

South Pacific.
Cook Straight New Zealand. 40 kts gusting up to 70 kts, Blew out my 130 early on as I was rolling it in when the wind first picked up. Anchored in Palliser bay , no relief. It funnels wind down on the water.. Never anchor in Palliser bay.

North Atlantic.
Seem to always pick up a gale of wind sailing from Gib to the Canaries in Oct or Nov. Had some nasty times N of Cape Hatteras in the winter, got caught in a Hurricane SW of the Azores once, and a tropical storm off Miami.

Indian Ocean.
Not really bad wx but had to beat all the way from the Maldives to Djibouti in about 30 kts. Most of the way. That was really no fun

But most of the time, (other than the gulf of Alaska, I would say 98% of the time good wx all around.

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Old 02-03-2021, 11:01   #14
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Re: Crossed an Ocean? What was worst weather?

In the Atlantic (most of it in the Gulf stream) 14 hours of winds 25-35, with about 6 hours of that continuously in the 30's. Gusts to the low 40's, seas big. I'd guess seas were as much as 20 ft, but maybe higher. They were big enough that I was seriously concerned they were going to break into the cockpit.
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Old 02-03-2021, 11:03   #15
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Re: Crossed an Ocean? What was worst weather?

Oops, sorry, I missed the OP's criteria of having crossed an ocean. Haven't done that.
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