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Old 05-02-2017, 13:31   #1
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Weather Windows Gulf Stream 2016

Hi all,

I'm looking for a data geek or two who like tracking weather windows. I'm planning to cross the GS from Lake Worth to the Abacos in April, and I'm trying to get an idea of the average wait for a window. I kept a spreadsheet last year of what I considered weather windows from Feb 1 through Apr 3, but then things got busy in my life, and I stopped tracking the GS weather. Does anybody have a record of windows that opened last year in April? By window, I mean winds not in a northern quadrant, <15 kts, Wave direction not from the north, wave period > 1.5 times the wave height. Last year I tracked all these parameters daily Feb 1 - Mar 31 except wave period.

I'm just trying to get an idea how long I'll be hanging out in vicinity Lake Worth Inlet. From my records, I saw one legitimate window 14 Mar 2016, one 27 Mar, and maybe one Apr 3, but that was my last day of tracking the data, so I'm not sure. It appeared from the data that windows were starting to occur more frequently toward the end, but it's a pretty small data set. And I know that past performance is no guarantee of future windows, but it can't hurt to know what happened last year.

Alternatively, anybody know of a source of historical data maintained by NOAA for example? I have looked, but no dice.
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Old 06-02-2017, 07:57   #2
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Re: Weather Windows Gulf Stream 2016

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Originally Posted by AJ_n_Audrey View Post
Hi all,

I'm looking for a data geek or two who like tracking weather windows. I'm planning to cross the GS from Lake Worth to the Abacos in April, and I'm trying to get an idea of the average wait for a window. I kept a spreadsheet last year of what I considered weather windows from Feb 1 through Apr 3, but then things got busy in my life, and I stopped tracking the GS weather. Does anybody have a record of windows that opened last year in April? By window, I mean winds not in a northern quadrant, <15 kts, Wave direction not from the north, wave period > 1.5 times the wave height. Last year I tracked all these parameters daily Feb 1 - Mar 31 except wave period.

I'm just trying to get an idea how long I'll be hanging out in vicinity Lake Worth Inlet. From my records, I saw one legitimate window 14 Mar 2016, one 27 Mar, and maybe one Apr 3, but that was my last day of tracking the data, so I'm not sure. It appeared from the data that windows were starting to occur more frequently toward the end, but it's a pretty small data set. And I know that past performance is no guarantee of future windows, but it can't hurt to know what happened last year.

Alternatively, anybody know of a source of historical data maintained by NOAA for example? I have looked, but no dice.
I think that you may be overthinking things a bit. First off consider your criteria. If you got 20 knots from the south it would be great for a crossing. Also smaller waves from the north would not be an issue. Your data collection, even if it is does carefully, may not yield you much useful information since one year's results may have little to do with another year's. When we did the crossing we waited in Lake Worth for a week - we were being quite conservative. In talking to people there, this seemed to a fairly long wait. When we came back to Fort Pierce we did not have to wait at all.

The pilot chart for the month will give you the relative frequency of wind and average wind speeds. It seems like winds from west through south to east happen significantly more than half the time with average wind speeds of 20 knots.

http://msi.nga.mil/MSISiteContent/St...106/106mar.pdf
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Old 06-02-2017, 08:49   #3
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Re: Weather Windows Gulf Stream 2016

West winds only happens with a frontal passage.
The prevailing winds was ESE, or 110 degrees or so.
Anytime the winds are not ESE, something is going on.
Longest window I had to wait for was a week.
Many times we just went sailing anyways, but did the Florida Keys. Easy to sail and anchor in Biscayne Bay even when the winds are howling from the N or NE.
Done 29 Bahamas trips, that is 58 crossings of the Gulf Stream, from flat, dead, glassy calm to 9' waves and every month of the year.
Cold fronts in the winter, thunderstorms in the summer and hurricanes in the fall.
Look for weak fronts and how the wind clocks around, then go with S, SW or W winds.
Or just go and motorsail into the prevailing winds, go South along the beach, then cross to minimize exposure to the current: ( it can be 3.5 knots out there)

The NOAA Marine forecasts are pretty good and if they say seas 2-3, I go, even 4-5 if I want to push a little, but no more 6 footers or bigger.
Coming back is always easier du to the prevailing winds, but had a few lumpy ones crossing back to Florida also: running out of time is bad. The most dangerous thing on a sailboat is a calendar.
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Old 06-02-2017, 11:07   #4
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Re: Weather Windows Gulf Stream 2016

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Originally Posted by CSY Man View Post
West winds only happens with a frontal passage.
The prevailing winds was ESE, or 110 degrees or so.
Anytime the winds are not ESE, something is going on.
Longest window I had to wait for was a week.
Many times we just went sailing anyways, but did the Florida Keys. Easy to sail and anchor in Biscayne Bay even when the winds are howling from the N or NE.
Done 29 Bahamas trips, that is 58 crossings of the Gulf Stream, from flat, dead, glassy calm to 9' waves and every month of the year.
Cold fronts in the winter, thunderstorms in the summer and hurricanes in the fall.
Look for weak fronts and how the wind clocks around, then go with S, SW or W winds.
Or just go and motorsail into the prevailing winds, go South along the beach, then cross to minimize exposure to the current: ( it can be 3.5 knots out there)

The NOAA Marine forecasts are pretty good and if they say seas 2-3, I go, even 4-5 if I want to push a little, but no more 6 footers or bigger.
Coming back is always easier du to the prevailing winds, but had a few lumpy ones crossing back to Florida also: running out of time is bad. The most dangerous thing on a sailboat is a calendar.
What he says.

Last year my clients sailed to Bahamas / Bermuda / Bahamas.

Dominant ENE interrupted only by fronts sweeping over.

Wx cycle 5 to 10 days. Often 7+.

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Old 06-02-2017, 11:18   #5
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Re: Weather Windows Gulf Stream 2016

What the other guys said, plus...

Since you're coming from NC and crossing to the Abacos you also have the choice of starting your crossing at Ft. Pierce or St. Lucie rather than going all the way down to Lake Worth. Plenty of places to anchor near those inlets if you want to wait there. When you get to Ft. Pierce and the crossing is not to your liking, go to St. Lucie. Then if it is still no go, head to Lake Worth and wait it out. The odds are you won't need to spend time there.
Crossing from Ft. Pierce or St. Lucie has the advantage that you can enter the Bahamas at Mantanilla or White Sands and avoid West End and the Indian Cay channel.

John
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Old 06-02-2017, 11:43   #6
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Re: Weather Windows Gulf Stream 2016

Thanks all. With regard to overthinking things, I'm an engineer, so overthinking problems is what I do.......;-) As for windspeed, yes, winds from the south above 15 are actually probably fine because I have 7300 lbs of ballast in the keel. Sailing in 20-25 knots in my boat is fine; I was just being conservative. Thanks for the link to the pilot charts!
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Old 06-02-2017, 12:36   #7
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Re: Weather Windows Gulf Stream 2016

Too much thought into the process and too dedicated to a faulty plan.

The further south you cross the easier it is.

If the weather is bad keep moving south and enjoying the Keys until you get the window.

Best crossing I have had in 20+ crossings over 30 years was from Marathon.
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