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Old 26-01-2020, 05:23   #1
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Sailing south from Norfolk to St. Martin in winter

After Zanshin was dismasted in hurricane Irma I moved her to Annapolis, MD for a lengthy refit which took longer than expected, so instead of sailing to the Caribbean in November it is now late January and the weather is pretty miserable. I've been in Norfolk, VA for a week waiting for acceptable weather and today is the day. I opted to get a SPOT tracker and anyone interested in the trip can follow it live at this link.
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Old 26-01-2020, 08:01   #2
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Re: Sailing south from Norfolk to St. Martin in winter

Congratulations on getting refit and underway.

I am not a routing pro, but I do enjoy tracking cruisers to see how the weather plays out for cruising. So thanks for the tracker.

My amateur weather eye sees nice weather for running off shore for 65W. I expect the temperature will be nice once in and east of the gulf stream. There is a major blow arriving probably Feb 1 and 2 that runs broadly all along the coast and north east out into the ocean, but I expect to see you south of the nasty and finding sweet winds for moving south into the trades.

Good luck!
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Old 26-01-2020, 12:28   #3
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Re: Sailing south from Norfolk to St. Martin in winter

My suggestion is to go from Norfolk out to Bermuda and then down to St Martin. This route keeps you from beating upwind in the trades and gives you a rest and a time to select another weather window for the trip from Bermuda to the islands. When you leave Bermuda stay hard on the wind and the second half of the passage will be a beam reach.
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Old 26-01-2020, 13:03   #4
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Re: Sailing south from Norfolk to St. Martin in winter

Sparx & AnsleyS - I'm a bit of an amateur meteorologist and also have a professional weather routing for this trip using Chris Parker. I'm off to Hatteras, then turn to cross the Gulf Stream at a right angle, then I'll make SSE in order to under the weather later this week. The trades will be stopped by a weather system which will let me make my easting under motorsail before they come back. That is the current plan, but the weather might change while underway. The SPOT track at the link above will show what actually happens.
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Old 28-01-2020, 08:02   #5
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Re: Sailing south from Norfolk to St. Martin in winter

How are things going? Looks like you may have some weather coming your way.


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Old 29-01-2020, 08:22   #6
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Re: Sailing south from Norfolk to St. Martin in winter

The models are showing the low pressure system moving more easterly closer to Zanshin than previous forecasts. However to my eye Zanshin will be south of the worst of the low. Right now they are holding the SSE course, and are likely motoring in less than 10 knots of wind at 29.4 degrees latitude.

From the current model Zanshin may be perfectly positioned for turning onto a SE course on SW and then W winds Thursday and Friday as the low passes north of them. The weather forecast along this path is completely dominated by the low, but looks pleasant sailing where Zanshin will likely be. They may not encounter the trade winds until their final few miles to St Martin.

The route so far and my guess as to their future course is very different from the classic routing. Perhaps this will turn into an excellent example of good routing decisions resulting in a good January passage.

I am enjoying following the progress. It will be interesting to see how the route plays out.
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Old 29-01-2020, 10:11   #7
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Re: Sailing south from Norfolk to St. Martin in winter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparx View Post
The route so far and my guess as to their future course is very different from the classic routing. Perhaps this will turn into an excellent example of good routing decisions resulting in a good January passage.

I am enjoying following the progress. It will be interesting to see how the route plays out.
The wx modeling continues to change a bit from a few days ago and as you say will be interesting to what happens.

Looks like he headed more S to possibly avoid the heavier air that would typically associated w/winter fronts. Going more E to follow the classic route IMO would have put him been a real problem area looking at the forecasted wx and the trades would not have been there to help out.

Still wondering if/when he will head E to pick up the trades.

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Old 08-02-2020, 07:13   #8
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Re: Sailing south from Norfolk to St. Martin in winter

I did indeed make as much south as early as possible so as to avoid the heavy weather associated with those fast-moving fronts. I only had two extended periods of more than 30 knots sustained winds, and those were both less than 12 hours.
4 days out I managed to fall on my back and hurt myself seriously; the first day I could only crawl. So I opted to shorten the trip and go to the BVI. Luckily with the SSB and Pactor modem I could e-mail friends on the island who arranged for permission to dock and go to the clinic before clearing in. I am now safely ashore and on pain medication, I' not allowed to move around and there ware worse places to do so than the BVI

The weather routing was done by Chris Parker. He kept on resisting my requests to make easting - he said the last 2 days the systems would suppress the usual trades and I'd motorsail eastwards in 5 knots or less of wind and no waves. And that is exactly what happened, had I not had the accident the trip would have been perfect. I had those two storms but also had two days of perfect sailing in calm seas close hauled with 15 knots apparent and close hauled.
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Old 08-02-2020, 07:33   #9
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Re: Sailing south from Norfolk to St. Martin in winter

Wow! A serious back injury and still sailed another many days to port. Including dodging some nasty weather. RESPECT.

I enjoyed following your progress, and was regularly comparing your chosen course to the weather information available. I was wondering how you were going to handle the easting once well south, and now we now the story behind your selected path.

Best wishes for a steady recovery. There are certainly worse places to be.
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