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Old 27-02-2020, 09:36   #16
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Re: Crossing Gulf Stream Current from Key West

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Originally Posted by billknny View Post
The decision of when to leave is such a critically important decision for any captain, the idea of submitting it to a forum for an answer kind of boogles my mind. To me it is like trying to cross a busy street blindfolded and yelling out to random passing strangers, “Is it safe now?” and taking a majority opinion.



Seriously, this is a big deal. Not just for this trip, but ANY passage. Hire a professional weather router who can help you. Someone who knows your boats capabilities, and yours! Someone who looks at forecasts and currents with knowledge and experience. Not just grib files of computer model outputs.



Every year people DIE because they don’t understand the importance of timing departures based on weather. Don’t be one of them!


What boggles my mind is why anyone would think that asking other people’s opinions is somehow a bad thing for such a “critical” decision?
Your analogy is more like when trying to cross a busy street with all your senses and watching to see if anyone else is crossing at the same time and using that data along with everything else you have to make the decision. If you are the only one stepping off the curb it might behoove you to reassess your decision where if you decide to cross and a large crowd is moving at the same time you might feel more sure of your decision.
I can’t see how that make you anything other than a prudent captain.
Hiring a “professional” to tell you when to go seems to me to be about as bad the crowdsourcing you are complaining about.
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Old 28-02-2020, 18:16   #17
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Re: Crossing Gulf Stream Current from Key West

The sleigh ride conditions are still looking good. Actual observations, ECMWF, and GFS are all in agreement. Looks like a fun ride! Click image for larger version

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Old 29-02-2020, 08:35   #18
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Re: Crossing Gulf Stream Current from Key West

And another great day of down wind sleigh ride sailing missed! (OP PM'ed me that they are still in Key West! )

Those of you who are working as delivery captains should contact the OP. It appears to me they are in need of some experienced assistance.

This looks like a fun ride. Sorry that I am missing it! But, its our cruising season now.

Seas in the Yucatan Channel are less than 2 meters too! Damn, its painful to watch a beautiful weather window wasted!

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Old 01-03-2020, 07:50   #19
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Re: Crossing Gulf Stream Current from Key West

And another beautiful sailing day wasted. Hopefully someone is enjoying this run.

A few little light patches as shown on attached chart.

SE shift & building winds tomorrow ahead of the next front. You can see SE shift already starting N of Yucatan. Perfect for final leg into Belize, if you stayed well E of rhumb line.

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Old 02-03-2020, 07:55   #20
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Re: Crossing Gulf Stream Current from Key West

And today would have likely been the last day of this run...would likely be on approach to Belize today. Its been a beautiful window with forecast matching observations all the way...including today!

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Old 02-03-2020, 08:19   #21
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Re: Crossing Gulf Stream Current from Key West

I am interested in this thread because I am going to cross from the W tip of Cuba to Belize too in a couple of months.

My logical approach would be to wait for light NE winds and then ride these downwind straight to Belize.
But wouldnt that be a wind against current situation that everybody says to avoid? Or still no problem as long as you are riding wind and waves downwind?

Sorry for the question but till now I have only ever sailed the Mediterranean where the current was mostly nonexistent.
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Old 02-03-2020, 08:57   #22
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Re: Crossing Gulf Stream Current from Key West

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Originally Posted by vw1961 View Post
I am interested in this thread because I am going to cross from the W tip of Cuba to Belize too in a couple of months.

My logical approach would be to wait for light NE winds and then ride these downwind straight to Belize.
But wouldnt that be a wind against current situation that everybody says to avoid? Or still no problem as long as you are riding wind and waves downwind?

Sorry for the question but till now I have only ever sailed the Mediterranean where the current was mostly nonexistent.
E-NE winds are the norm in the Florida Straits. If crossing from FL to near Cuba with winds at normal ranges (say 15 knots or less) then the sea state in the Florida Current will be bumpy (say 2 meters with a short period), but not bad...and its only about 100 miles. What you do want to avoid is stronger winds against the current.

Once you close on the N coast of Cuba then you are well out of the axis of the current.

Rounding near the W end of Cuba keeps you out of the axis of the Yucatan Current.

Maintaining a route well to the E of the Yucatan Current keeps you out of the majority of that current (though there are some weaker feeder currents coming into the main current from the SE).

The usual strategy for this run this time of year is to wait for a cold front to pass which brings a prolonged NW wind shift...and have a nice downwind sail all the way. NW winds are more in line with the Florida Current and this route avoids the axis of the Yucatan Current so not an issue there.

ENE-E winds are the norm in the Carib basin (SE shifts are more common in summer months). This is more across the Yucatan Current than against it.

In a couple of months you will be well out of cold front season. But, you can run the same route, it will just be more to windward after rounding Cuba.

Image of recent currents attached. The exact path and speed vary a bit, but these are typical of the Florida and Yucatan currents. The Gulf Loop current by contrast is highly variable, but is not a concern on this route.Attachment 209874
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Old 02-03-2020, 15:54   #23
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Re: Crossing Gulf Stream Current from Key West

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
E-NE winds are the norm in the Florida Straits. If crossing from FL to near Cuba with winds at normal ranges (say 15 knots or less) then the sea state in the Florida Current will be bumpy (say 2 meters with a short period), but not bad...and its only about 100 miles. What you do want to avoid is stronger winds against the current.

Once you close on the N coast of Cuba then you are well out of the axis of the current.

Rounding near the W end of Cuba keeps you out of the axis of the Yucatan Current.

Maintaining a route well to the E of the Yucatan Current keeps you out of the majority of that current (though there are some weaker feeder currents coming into the main current from the SE).

The usual strategy for this run this time of year is to wait for a cold front to pass which brings a prolonged NW wind shift...and have a nice downwind sail all the way. NW winds are more in line with the Florida Current and this route avoids the axis of the Yucatan Current so not an issue there.

ENE-E winds are the norm in the Carib basin (SE shifts are more common in summer months). This is more across the Yucatan Current than against it.

In a couple of months you will be well out of cold front season. But, you can run the same route, it will just be more to windward after rounding Cuba.

Image of recent currents attached. The exact path and speed vary a bit, but these are typical of the Florida and Yucatan currents. The Gulf Loop current by contrast is highly variable, but is not a concern on this route.Attachment 209874
Hmmm...attachment problem. Again:Click image for larger version

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Old 02-03-2020, 16:59   #24
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Re: Crossing Gulf Stream Current from Key West

Assuming your depature is in April-May then there are historically very strong odds of Easterly winds, lesser likelyhood of NE or SE. Either NE or E works so about 70% likely to have favorable wind direction.

Re waiting for a light NE wind, really no need if crossing W Cuba to Belize. Normal prevailing winds are not an issue, esp if you stay east of the main axis of the Yucatan Current until parallel to Belize. The current is at its strongest as it squeezes between the Yucatan and Cuba...you dont want to be there in a strong northerly (as was about to happen to the OP). Then you will have a bad wind against current situation.

Pilot Chart snippet for April. May is almost identical, just a bit higher probability of East winds.


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Old 02-03-2020, 18:59   #25
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Re: Crossing Gulf Stream Current from Key West

@belizesailor

Thank you so much for your detailed answer. It is much appreciated!

So the approach is to stay on the eastern side of the current and cross it further south where it is weaker.
I thought if I'd have enough time i might go to Isla Mujeres/Cancun first and then hop along the Mexican coast. So id cross the current pretty much where it is strongest, do you have any experience of the sea state there in a normal easterly?

Anyway, thanks again for sharing yor knowledge!
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Old 02-03-2020, 19:14   #26
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Re: Crossing Gulf Stream Current from Key West

De nada, happy to help.

Most do cross to/from Isla Mujeres, not a problem in typical wind conditions. Easy short hops down the MX coast from there.

Rather than battling against the current from W Cuba to Isla Mujeres, make your southerly progress to the E of the current then cut across.
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Old 02-03-2020, 19:35   #27
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Re: Crossing Gulf Stream Current from Key West

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Originally Posted by vw1961 View Post
...
So the approach is to stay on the eastern side of the current and cross it further south where it is weaker.

....
Yes, if you plan to sail straight thru. You can follow this strategy all the way to Guatemala.
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Old 08-03-2020, 14:26   #28
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Re: Crossing Gulf Stream Current from Key West

Ok sailors, we did hire a weather router but decided not to take the rather iffy weather window. Instead got a lot done to ensure good electrical function from a friend who hasta joined us and knows his stuff! We are still in Key West where there is a nice storm but plan to head out Tuesday am. It might be a bit bumpy but we want to get on our way and ir will be good the rest of the way it seems. We are going straight to Placencia as it should be easier to check in there or at least less expensive. Thanks for the comments and if anyone has any extra advice we will be happy to consider it.
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Old 18-03-2020, 09:02   #29
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Re: Crossing Gulf Stream Current from Key West

Concrete numbers for future reference: Its been a long time since I cleared in at Cucumber Beach, so I just confirmed with a friend who is based out of Cucumber Beach that current cost for clearing in there is about $300 or less inclusive of all costs (transport of officials, propinas, etc).

While it is more expensive to clear in at Cucumber Beach than Placencia it is more convenient as the officials come to you. You cant actually clear in at Placencia, but must travel to the nearby port of Big Creek where all the officials are located. This involves a water taxi ride across the lagoon and then a taxi ride to the port. Sometimes this process changes regarding whether or not you have to bring your boat over to Big Creek.
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