Monday, January 31, 2011

Weather Window

No, this is not a bad trip - this is a pic of the Atlantic.  The red is the Gulf Stream.  Pretty neat!
Going to the Bahamas is really no big deal, in fact - the westernmost island in the chain, Bimimi, is only about 50 nautical miles away.  That's a day sail.  Piece o' cake, right?  Wrong.  The 'thing' is this:  when going to the Bahamas, you must cross the infamous Gulf Stream.  This current is about as famous as Captain Bligh for it's unruliness.  Many a boat has met it's fate in this stream - boats who have navigated Cape Horn and the Southern Ocean have arrived in the Atlantic only to sink in a storm in the stream.   It can be mean.

The stream is a current that originates in Florida and traverses the whole east coast from south to north before jutting out across the Atlantic.  It is such a big deal that it actually influences the climate of North America and Europe.  This ain't no lazy river, that's for sure.

But I digress...

Crossing the Gulf Stream should not be taken lightly.  Conditions in it are known to go from bad to worse in no time at all,  and the waves generated in this river within an Ocean can be colossal.  However, not all is lost.  Conditions can be easy breezy - if you have wind without any northerly component.  Ideally, you want a "weather window" that consists of light southerly winds for 2-3 days in a row.  This is what we have been waiting for - wind from the South will help to ensure an uneventful crossing as the wind will be going with instead of against the stream.  In addition to making sure the weather is ideal, you must also account for the current which can be up to 6 knots in places.  For example, if we are to sail to Bimini from here - the magnetic compass course (as the crow flies) is 101 degrees.  However, if we were to steer that course, we would end up way above of our mark (because the current would push us north) - so to avoid this - we'll steer a course of about 127 degrees .  Pretty crazy.

The good news is this;  it looks like we'll have the weather window we're looking for this Wednesday thru Saturday and we'll be making the hop with our good friends, Lara and Brian.  You have no idea how ready for crystal blue water we all are!


Brittany & Scott


Mid-Life Cruising! said...

We're excited for ya'll as well! Good info in your post too, for people like us just starting. Can't wait to hear about it this weekend!

Uncle Al said...

Look forward to your crossing. I have been in the Stream (fishing) with 8 footers stacked up, and with it dead flat. The weather looks great so good luck with your next adventure.

Laura and Hans said...

Great news! We'll all be looking forward to your 'We're here!' post.

Philippe said...

We'll keep our fingers crossed for a good weather window for all of you!

Brett said...

Hi Guys,

Have a look at this article about crossing the Gulfstream and taking advantage of the current to reduce your time both in crossing and exposure to the weather. It is the same technique we use in the airlines when crossing the Jetstream, an air current very similar to the Gulfstream!

Have fun and good luck!

Unknown said...

I'm very pleased to hear that you might cross with Lara and Brian. I may fly out to the Bahamas and meet them at some point. Perhaps I will meet you as well?

(Lara's Dad)

Windtraveler said...

@ Brett - thanks for the link - great info there!
@ R.T!! HI!! We hope to meet you too....we love Lara and fact, they are coming over shortly to make some dinner :). Always nice to find like-minded people and friends!

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