Stars, Sails - the Parallax View
A family of astronomers at sea... coming soon to a galaxy near you...
On the Bright Side
Heather and Derek/sunny 76F/WNW 10
02/20/2012, Bimini

Heather:
There is another Prout Snowgoose very close to us! They are Grace, with George and Doris and Miss Alice aboard. George's previous job was fixing everything aboard boats, so hey, his boat looks wonderful! Doris (insists she's retired but looks too young for that) is a nurse. They have been working on their Prout for four years and while Gerge was redoing the plumbing and electrical systems and reconfiguring the galley to accommodate their (ooooooh!) double stainless steel sink (on the Snowgoose this means raising the countertop by a couple of inches and cutting away the upper shelf so the person doing the dishes can see to work). Doris also did all of their Sunbrella work (seafoam green) and upholstering, and redid the interior teak completely, sanding it down and using multiple coats of Epifanes varnish to make it both beatiful and easy to maintain at sea. Sorry, there is just so much cool stuff they have done with their boat... we got to visit with them Saturday, which was GREAT!

Saturday morning we started a move to the anchorage but discovered 1) the holding is pretty awful, there are sandy patches over a rubbly gravel of old dead coral bits and shells, and 2) the port engine (the one where we had been so happy to have wrapped the prop without seeing to do any serious damage?) works in reverse, runs fine, but in forward it spins -- the prop is getting very little actual power. Derek did a bunch of internet and Boat Owner's Mechanical Manual research to discover what was wrong, but we had to retrn to the dock, as there was supposed to be about 20 kts of wind coming and that anchorage is not one in which you would want to drag very far.

You remember in Marathon we just had the starboard engine's transmission replaced and the "dollar an hour" quote about that, and how the port side engine had about as many hours on it? We knew we were living on borrowed time with that portside transmission to start with... but it was doing fine. Somewhere in our crossing (remember the wind was light and very close to "in our face" most of the way) from Marathon to Bimini, we picked up about 40 feet of floating polypropylene line with the portside propeller. when we got here, Derek dove on it and freed it, and found that it wasn't tightly wrapped around the prop, so we'd thought perhaps we caught it just as we were entering Bimini. The port engine certainly still seemed to work. But there were disturbing details: at the fuel dock, the port engine turned out to have used only 2/3 the fuel of the starboard engine for the same run time. in the anchorage while maneuvering, I discovered that with the port engine only in forward, it was exactly the same as if we were drifting with perhaps a tiny bit of forward impetus.

The Hurth/ZF 10M marine transmission uses a "thrust washer" instead of a thrust bearing to transfer power from the engine to the shaft. When that part fails, the clutch usually follows quicky. The repair can be done, but to do it to the tolerances required for long-term goodness would require a 5-ton press for reassembly. So that leaves us for now with one perfectly good starboard engine (which is as much as most boats have, as much as we had last time we came through the Bahamas in Paradox in the early 90s) and "look on the bright side, Derek, we have a perfectly good generator that also has a working reverse gear! How cool is that!" We can use that reverse gear when maneuvering up to a dock. That's something. We'll take care of fixing the portside tranny when we get to Nassau.

Sunday the Graces came by and invited us to their marina's cruiser potluck. What fun! Thank you, George and Doris! And thank you, Paddy and John of New Moon, for the lobsters and the excellent idea!

Derek:
And here's the latest update....if all goes as planned, we will leave
Bimini tomorrow, travelling more or less in company with at least 5
other boats. We'll cross the banks until just before sunset and anchor
for the night. The next day (Wednesday) we will continue to either
Chub Cay (in the Berry Islands) or New Providence. The final
destination will depend on the wind direction, since we don't want to
be too uncomfortable, but we also have to get to Nassau in time for me
to leave the Bahamas. We have a dock (at the Bahamian Defense Force
base!), through some aquaintances, on the south side of New
Providence, which we've never been to before, so that should be
interesting.

Yesterday, we hung around the boat in the morning (Grant did some
schoolwork and Heather and I did some minor boat work and cleaning),
and then Grant and I went to the beach in the afternoon. Water was
beautiful and clear, but a lttle on the cold side. The ocean was
rough, though, so Im glad we didn't try to leave yesterday -- one of
the big fishing boats tried to go out and came back in a in hour
because it was too rough! In the evening, we had a pot luck with some
of the other boats, and sat around talking and drinking until about
9:30 or so. Definitely fun :) Came back and watched a movie with Grant
and went to bed....

Bimini Anchorage
Derek / sunny and 80F
02/18/2012, North Bimini anchorage

Well, late last night we decided to stay and wait for the next weather
window here. It would take us two days to cross the Great Bahama Bank
to the Berry Islands, and the forecast was only good for the first of
those two days (winds to 20 knots after that), so we will wait here
until the front goes through and then leave afterwards. At least it
gives us a chance to see Bimini a little which we've never done
before.

I made plane reservations last night as well for my trip back to the
US next month. The plan is to leave the boat (along with Heather and Grant!) in Nassau, and we've started looking for a good place for that.

Bimini is OK....in some ways, typically Bahamian and in others
definitely showing the US influence. The sun and water and sand are
Bahamian, along with friendly people, lots of tiny little shops
selling (in some cases) things that they've had since the Truman
administration, and good Bahamian bread. The US influence shows in the
fact that too many people are trying to sell stuff to you, and there are at some hours too many large American cars/trucks on the tiny road (there's really only one). The chickens and lizards in the streets are a nice touch, though.

We're having breakfast now (coffee, bacon, and french toast with
Bahamian bread), and then will move the boat from the dock (where we
checked in and decided to stay a night) to the fuel dock (next marina over) to get fuel and water (it costs here), then to the anchorage for the next
few days. More later....

Bimini Minimi
Heather/sunny and 82/SE 10
02/17/2012, Alice Town, North Bimini, Bahamas

We left Marathon's Boot Key Harbor anchorage Thursday morning, ran all day inside the reef up Florida Keys' Hawk Channel, exiting into the Florida Strait of the SW North Atlantic around Matecumbe just before sunset, heading directly for Bimini. Well, directly if you count steering 40 degrees or more to the right because you are being "set" northward so hard by the Gulf Stream's current. Our course for Bimini was 054 degrees True, but we had to steer 094 degrees magnetic to do that!

The good part about this was we timed our exit from the shelter of the reefs so that we would not have to dodge crab pots in the dark :-) The other good part was, the waves stayed as they had been predicted 0-2 feet. Part of the night was more like 2 feet, but a lot of it was under 1' -- pretty awesome! The wind was supposed to clock southward, but it did that a bit slower than expected, so although we started out with jib and engines (it was not a strong wind, but it was in a good direction) we were making 6 - 6.5 kts, hitting 7.2 for a while when the wind was just right. Thanks to the intense northward set of the GS, eventually we had to take in the jib in order to make good 054T. But once we were more than halfway across (say 20 miles from Bimini), the current started to diminish, a phenomenon helped by the southward flow of the Bahama Banks emptying out for the morning's low tide, so we were able to point more NE, which allowed us to bring the jib out again.

OK, out there where it's 248 ft or more, you do not have to dodge crab pots. You do have to dodge fishing lines occasionally, and cruise ships, which is really not much of a contest: they move more than 20 kts, and um, we do not. The cruise ships are a little silly: the first day is a stop at Key West, and from Miami (departure) to Key West is such a short hop for these monsters that they spend almost all of the night just motoring up and down out in the Gulf Stream. It's not safe or reasonable for them to arrive at KW in the dark, so to have a lovely morning arrival they patrol like gaily lighted wedding cakes all across the route of any vessel headed for the Bahamas. Gaily lighted, enormous, thousands-of-tons wedding cakes that move much, much faster than the rest of us. Brrr!

The water temperature in the Gulf Stream was 76 to 77 F, where it had been 73 off the Keys. But perhaps because of the intense sky glow from Miami that was visible almost all the way across, we did not see phosphorescence this time.

False dawn began about an hour before sunrise. The waning crescent moon was up, so once Miami's glow wasn't illuminating our sea, the moon was. We arrived in Alice Town and cleared in around 9:45 EST. Derek took us for breakfast/lunch after the clearing-in (which took nearly an hour, he had to wait for the official to return from her own breakfast) at Captain Bob's.

We took a walk and paddled our feet in the surf on the ocean side of the island (all the docks and anchorage are on the inside, facing the banks), bought a few groceries, and Derek dove on the prop to remove a piece of polypropylene line that had gotten caught on the prop in the channel on the way in (it was not wrapped firmly around the prop, thank goodness!), then took a nice shower.

This will be a minimum stop in Bimini (where there is also minimum phone availability: we walked all over the place and found numerous phones, most of which did not work, others of which did not take any credit cards but only BaTelCo cards, hence the Bimini Minimi), only overnight so that we can get fuel and rest up, then we head across the Bahamas banks to Chub Key and the Berry Islands for a few days. UPDATE: weather will not permit it; the banks take us two days to cross and although today's weather will be fine, we can't cross banks at night without risking the boat on a coral head, and overnight much windier weather is moving in. So we're sitting tight in Bimini at the anchorage until the front has passed.

We may not have good connectivity again until we reach Nassau, so in the meantime, you can get position and status updates from us here: our SPOT locator page. That should work no matter where we are, so we will simply update it to let everyone know where we are. We are thinking of you all, and I will add pictures to this post if I can this evening! Bandwidth is hard to come by.

Moving Along
Heather/ sunny and 74F
02/15/2012, Marathon Boat Yard

I will add more that is summarized in this post at a later date. The transmission is in, and working, thanks to Ramiro the highly skilled mechanic! Marathon Boat Yard is his employer. Tammy at the front office is a gem!

We are moving up to Long Key Bight out to Boot Key Harbor as part of our strategy of making sure everything works while advancing toward Bimini.

Our cat will require a much higher level of care than we had previously given her, there was no tape in her system, she just had a common older-cat problem, but it's very serious. Kathleen at Dr. Rene Cruz's Cruz Animal Hospital gave me the instructions on how to attach the IV to the cat, which we will be doing every other day until her bloodwork is closer to normal. She is so much better when we do the IV (with 150 ml lactated Ringer's), it's like a little miracle. As much as I hate needles, that is what will keep me IV-ing the kitty on schedule.
cat chart

We had a nice Valentine's Day dinner at Castaway, a dockside restaurant owned and run by fellow boaters (John and Arlene) who came through 12 years ago and took root.
Castaway Marathon FL

On the way back to the boat, we also met Linda and Fred aboard M/V Young America, just down the canal wall from us, a lovely couple (Fred's a ret submariner and MIT grad -- they really NEED to watch Big Bang Theory!) with a lovely Great Harbour 37 trawler. They semi-custom designed the interior to fit their liveaboard needs, having a table and settees and open area beside the galley-down instead of a closed second cabin -- it gives such a great, light, airy impression, I think the company should offer that as a standard option!

Fred introduced us to a Dilbert video called "The Knack" -- which is another reason I think they would love Big Bang Theory.

Waiting for... A Transmission?
Heather / sunny and 75 / NNW 12
02/11/2012, Marathon, FL

Waiting for a transmission... no, not from our home planet :-) Well, we're at a marina again... but this one is actually a boat yard and they are going to put a new transmission on the starboard engine.
Marathon Boat Yard

Here is the starboard transmission. It's a Hurth HBW100 2R / ZF 10M -- which means it was built in Italy after the ZF company acquired Hurth. This is good for us, because this particular transmission is still being made (only now it's just the ZF 10M).
Hurth HBW100 2R transmission

Can't see the crack? It's not easy...
Crack, Ho!

But "Dr. Diesel" at foleyengines.com says that despite their wonderful properties, the Hurth is a "dollar an hour transmission" -- about $1200 for a new one, and it will probably last 1200 engine hours... ours were both purchased in 1999 from Foley. So in a way, this is not unexpected. We are hoping (hope, hope!!!) that the port engine, having been used less than the starboard, will last a little longer before needing the same treatment. Also, the starboard engine has been under a great deal of strain with the misalignment due to the untightened mounting bolts (viz. Mark Hyma, our otherwise wonderful mechanic in Pensacola) coming loose and the engine thus moving on its mount, misaligning itself, which stressed the flex coupling (trashed -- replaced by Mark de Jong, our mechanic in Key West) and the damper plate (also replaced in KW by MdJ -- to do that, he had to take the Hurth transmission OFF and put it back on again afterward). Now, MdJ realigned the engine and the bolts are tight, but the case was already cracked... Derek had reported to MdJ and his guys that the transmission seemed to be losing fluid, but they told him to put an absorbent pad underneath it to monitor the situation... the pad that was soaked through when the tranny failed just outside Marathon's Boot Key Harbor.

The weather was full of lightning and thunder last night not too far off, and this morning is the usual after such a thing passes: mostly sunny and wind from the north. Right now it's still from the NW, but it will clock around as the day passes, and the forecast has it building up to nearly 30 mph. That's hairy-chested weather for sailors, but if it's pointing against the Gulf Stream, that's insane weather for crossing. Not to worry, the new transmission can't be here before Tuesday...
Windfinder Forecast For Marathon, FL

The cat seems to be better. She's sleeping a lot, and we're not sure she's eating anything beyond the occasional vitamin, but we have tasty "Nutri-Cal" to feed her if she really isn't eating (she hates it: I have to smear it onto some tongue-accessible part of her fur and she licks it off but then won't talk to me for hours). She has a favorite sleeping place at the moment, so we are leaving the comforter piled onto the portside settee to allow her to recover right in the center of everything.
cat nap

When we came in Thursday, they told us they had an open space along the wall for us, but when we got into the creek itself, there was no open space. So they told us to raft up alongside this big ol' wooden powerboat, which wouldn't be so bad, except:
1) She's got termites
2) She's covered with bicycles, so moving along her side decks is downright dangerous
3) She's in need of a lot of maintenance
4) Getting up onto her deck to get ashore is an athletic event from our deck, and Heather's arm-pull abilities are seriously affected by that left wrist still in the process of healing.

Turns out, a sailboat called Setting Sun had happened into the same creek just before we entered, and took our spot without a word to anyone. By Friday afternoon the office people had figured out what was wrong, and they asked Setting Sun to go raft up to someone else... they chose a nice, new, lower-decked catamaran (gorgeous boat, really), and they are now happily rafted. Here's the boat we were rafted to, and Setting Sun in the background with their higher class of raftup:
Tall power boat

The area is interesting: the town of Marathon itself spans a number of different keys, the main one being Key Vaca. There is a Boy Scouts of America Sea Camp nearby, called BSA Florida Sea Base. Apparently, the yard we're in is also the yard that services their boats:
BSA Sea Base Boat

Heather finished the chafing gear for the two lines of the anchor bridle. It looks a bit like jeans for a really tall and skinny pixie:
jeans prevent chafing
We saved Derek's last pair of destroyed jeans exactly for such a purpose, having read in one of the many cruising books we absorbed that because of its softness and sturdiness, old jeans material is great for chafing gear.

Nope, Marathon...
Heather/ overcast and 68F/ NNE 15
02/08/2012, Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL

Cat-driven delay having shortened our weather window, nature also closed it down from the other end (i.e., the winds picked up again faster than forecast). So we did not have time to make it across the Gulf Stream before they came on strong and directly against the stream: exactly what is not recommended in Van Sant (and more to the point, we have direct experience of what wind-against-current does on the Gulf Stream, and we will wait for weather). Plan B: stage up to Marathon and wait for the next decent window to either slip farther north to Molasses Reef, or scoot across to Bimini if the next weather window is slightly longer.

Of course, this gave me some time to work on the mosaic (started by previous owner Margaret, John's wife, before her illness; so much love went into that that we had to keep it and finish it up) on the counter opposite the nav table. The tiles are all mounted now and only require grouting and the final pour of clear plastic to seal them in and flatten the surface (like those thick-covered bar tables with corks and other interesting objects embedded). Derek also helped by silicone-caulking the sides and back of the countertop to prevent the liquid plastic from leaking down onto his tools in the cabinet beneath. Here it is, waiting for grout:
countertop mosaic waiting for grout

See the masking tape along the top of the craft paper shield? That's what the cat was eating that made her sick. We are still working on getting her well. We will watch anything she might chew on much more rigorously after this!

A closeup (with flash) of the center section. The flamingo's tongue shell is from Grant's qualifying dive in St. Thomas, the other shells are mostly from a great shelling beach Grandma led us to about a year ago when we visited Sarasota!
shell center of mosaic

Grouted behind the stove, too:
grout and about

We made good time up from Key West to Marathon. We were running both engines since we had chosen light winds for our departure, and we wanted to do a shakedown since we'd had the starboard engine repaired in Key West by Mark de Jong (Mark's Marine Diesel at Oceanside Marina). It was gray out, of course, as we were riding the funky wind direction that follows the passage of a front. Soon the wind went a bit farther N rather than NE, and perked up, and we were able to pull out the jib and motorsail close-hauled. That raised our speed to 5.7 - 6.3 kts (faster as the wind strengthened later in the day).

Everything went well, both engines seemed to be performing well, the starboard engine certainly sounded a lot better than it had when it got weird on the way down to Key West. The autopilot worked, crab pot floats were dodged as we took watches. By 4:30 in the afternoon, we were outside the entrance to Boot Key Harbor. We called the City Marina, which controls the mooring field, but all of their mooring balls were taken. There is a daily "show up in person to be put on the waiting list for a mooring ball" routine, so if we want one, we have to go to the office in person and get our boat on the list. Over the phone, they told us we could anchor near the former bascule bridge.

Outside the harbor entrance, we turned into the wind to take in the jib. I brought the engine revs down so as to simply hold our face into the wind without making progress in that direction: a current was running so I could hover and still have steerageway. Just after I brought the revs down, the starboard engine started to make a strange noise, kind of like the noise of ice in a blender. Not good. I put it in neutral and told Derek, who was taking in the jib. I had thought to leave stbd in neutral and just use the port engine, but the starboard engine started making the noise again even in neutral, so I shut it down. We still had the port engine, so we proceeded into the anchorage.

After we anchored, Derek found that the fresh absorbent pad that he'd placed on the floor of the starboard engine compartment was soaked through and the transmission fluid was empty. It had been full up when we started this morning. He had two bottles of tranny fluid in his spares cabinet, so he refilled from one, and worked the shift lever back and forth a bit with the engine off -- it seemed to get easier to move. He tried restarting the engine in neutral, and it sounded better at first but then started making the bad noise again and he shut it down. We called Mark de Jong (Mark's Marine Diesel). We were hoping he had a colleague in Marathon he could recommend to do diesel repair.

Um, no. His suggestion was to have TowBoatUS tow us back to Key West. We do have TowBoatUS coverage, but there are a number of problems with doing that. First, we would have no place there to stay (the NAS Boca Chica marina is highly oversubscribed this time of year). Second, we just made all this effort to get up here. Third, didn't we just pay Mark to diagnose and fix that engine? It ran less than seven engine hours between the "fix" and this. If he'd said, "Hey, I'll look at it and if it's something we should have caught when we fixed your starboard engine the first time, we'll take care of it," well, that would maybe justify going all the way back. But this is different... Derek is pretty upset, can't remember what having equipment work as it's supposed to even feels like anymore. It could be seals (there are three), it could be something worse. Yet more money??? It seems like every time we go anywhere, that engine has some problem or another. We'd hoped the magic of actually paying a professional mechanic to figure out what was wrong and fix it would mean we could go on this family voyage after all, and we paid more than we could afford to do that -- now it looks like if we want to voyage, it's pay more again for the same engine: for someone else, or the same someone, to look at it and maybe -- this time, again -- it will stay fixed, or maybe the problems will still not all be found. That's what really has him down.

It's very peaceful at anchor here in the popular Boot Key Harbor anchorage:
Boot Key Harbor anchorage

Derek has adopted another catamaran cruiser's recommendation and rigged a bridle from the two bow cleats that hooks onto the anchor chain about 10 feet along. The resulting pull on the bridle is very light even in today's 14-kt breeze, but my new sewing project is chafing gear to protect the bow's finish from the rub of the line we might expect in a really strong breeze:
port side anchor bridle

Being a catamaran, we have a shallow draft, so we can anchor close to the destroyed bascule bridge:
our neighboring bridge

Bimini... bimini... bimini
Heather/calm and window-y
02/07/2012, Key West (NAS Boca Chica) until 2/8/12 0700

Grant likes the word "Bimini," it sort of rolls along. Let's hope he also likes the place!

We finally met Chris and Joyce, an adventurous couple with a bright spark of determination in planning their "going cruising" adventure. They took us to breakfast at the very delicious Blue Heaven on Sunday, early enough to actually get both a table and parking... it was a pleasure meeting them at last after communicating over sailblogs :-)

Well, we had thought we'd start Monday, but the kitty cat decided to get sick (um, actually, she ate masking tape and then stayed up most of the night barfing) on Sunday night. Monday we kept the car hours longer in order to get her to the Cruz Animal Hospital just north of mile 27... they took an X-ray and determined that yes it's bad for her to eat tape, but she'll probably recover. They also gave us some Cat Lube, which is a "tasty" (to cats) brown alimentary paste to help cats pass things they ate that they were not supposed to eat. And they recommended wet food for a while to help the process, which she apparently is really enjoying! We could not believe it, she actually willingly went into her carrier for the return trip to the boat, without being trapped into it. Very impressive.

When we did return the car, Roger (of the wonderful Flicka, JoHee) offered to lend his jeep to our efforts to get back to the marina (thank you, Roger!), and Ginger of Gypsysails, who was doing her first day on a new job, actually came out to the airport as soon as she got off work and picked us up from the rental return lot! How cool was that! She and Maury were headed over to Jon & Renee's boat for a dinner with Jon (Renee is north right now, helping her daughter through an illness), and she still made time to be our angel -- thank you so much, Ginger! Which turned out to be even better, because the taxi company that had said it would have a driver call us apparently forgot all about us: beware of Four Sixes, they do have some drivers with Navy base access, but, as happened today, they can just space out instead of getting back to you. My guess is that calling them back would have gotten results, but by then Ginger had called us and was on her way over. May the sun shine and the gentle breezes blow whenever Gypsy Sails! Actually, on all ya'll, what a wonderful bunch of people we have met at this marina.

All of that cat-tivity meant we didn't start our trip as planned in the afternoon to make a "shakedown" jump to an anchorage nearby, so we now plan to leave Tuesday morning early and just keep on to Bimini. That way, we sort of stay with the weather window rather than losing it. It closes behind us back here in Key West, but extends nicely into Thursday and even Friday where we are headed.

Wednesday 2/8/12
morning
Light and variable winds with smooth seas. Small short period wind waves.
Winds: N 4 to 6 knots
Seas: NNE 2 feet at 9 sec.

Afternoon
Light winds with a slight chop. Small short period wind waves.
Winds: NNE 6 to 8 knots
Seas: NNE 2 feet at 8 sec.


A really nice graphical representation of the weather window is available by clicking the Florida-to-Bimini box on the map at http://www.passageweather.com/ and then selecting "animate" for either the wind or the waves. Of course, by the time you read this, weather in that box will be different... so to summarize, today's is pretty good, very low wave heights and light winds predicted all day. We're wishing for luck, and to stay ahead of any exciting changes...

Creature Alert
Sunday night I spotted a very strange sea creature by our dock: about 10" long and with two diaphanous elegantly-spotted brown "wings" in the water, it looked like a cuttlefish with very elongated propulsion. I'm going to have to look that one up. It was full moon, and the critter was hunting in the light from one of the dock lamps. I suppose it might have been an upside-down cuttlefish... do they ever hunt upside-down? The following morning there were large tarpon hanging in the still water by the docks, 4-5 feet long, motionless and huge-scaled, between 2 and 4 feet below the surface. It was a great 24H for spotting sea life in the marina! Maybe due to the change in wind? The full moon? The very still surface?

Happy Groundhog Day
Heather, waiting for weather
02/02/2012, Key West (NAS Boca Chica)

In the morning, we will watch Groundhog Day, which is a wonderful comedy. Sort of a family tradition!

In the afternoon, I will have my first physical therapy appointment. I'm a little scared -- everyone talks about how painful that is!

Derek has been monitoring the weather and apparently we have a weather window coming up. [UPDATE: He agrees that it has "moved" and we will probably be going a few days later than he originally thought. This is due to the incoming front passing north of us instead of directly over us... ) Right now for a few days the wind has been from north, northeast, and east, up to 20 kts. Today it was moderate and we would have gone but for my PT appt. Friday is a bit blustery, Saturday the winds are supposed to moderate again (UPDATE: "Not any more!"), be east and then from SE over the weekend... light winds in line with the Gulf Stream are what we are waiting for. At the very least, not against the stream, and not heavy. (UPDATE: all that moves a few days downstream)

Weather prediction is more complicated when multiple sources do not agree. Weather Underground doesn't suggest any real moderation of the wind speed, having it still above 12 kts all weekend, although SE by Sunday, and much lighter Sunday evening. Here's a graphic from NOAA: http://innovation.srh.noaa.gov/swan/swanloop.php?sid=KEY

We're starting at 25N 81W, heading east and north a bit... The National Weather Service, as usual, shouts a lot:
SYNOPSIS FOR THE SW N ATLC INCLUDING THE BAHAMAS
1030 PM EST WED FEB 01 2012

.SYNOPSIS...STRONG HIGH PRES RIDGE WILL BUILD SE INTO THE AREA
THU NIGHT THROUGH SAT. A COLD FRONT WILL SWEEP ACROSS THE FAR NE
WATERS FRI AND EXTEND FROM 27N65W TO E-CENTRAL FLORIDA LATE FRI
THEN STALL AND WEAKEN FROM 25N65W TO E-CENTRAL FLORIDA SAT.

That is north of us.

WEAK HIGH PRES WILL SHIFT E AND WEAKEN SUN AS A COLD FRONT MOVES JUST N OF THE FAR NW WATERS SUN NIGHT...SWEEPS E AND CLIPS THE FAR NE PORTION OF THE AREA BY LATE MON.

The relevant portions for us being "stall and weaken" and that the cold front will be N of us and thus the winds will be from SE for part of the time.

.SAT...W OF 70W NE TO E WINDS 10 TO 15 KT...EXCEPT N OF 27N W OF
77W E TO SE 10 TO 15 KT BECOMING NE 20 TO 25 KT BETWEEN BAHAMAS
AND WINDWARD PASSAGE. SEAS 6 TO 8 FT IN SE SWELL...EXCEPT W OF
BAHAMAS BUILDING TO 4 TO 7 FT.

Saturday morning is when we hope to move up NE (in the shelter of the reef), so as to take some miles off our trip without getting pounded. Yes, we will probably have wind on the nose as we start out eastward, but the engines are working.

.SUN...N OF 28N W OF 70W VARIABLE WINDS BECOMING E TO SE 5 TO 10 KT LATE. SEAS 4 TO 6 FT IN NE TO E SWELL.

We will be a bit south of that.

S OF 28N NE TO E WINDS 10 TO 15 KT...

This is where we will be, headed NE. Still sounds like a bad wind direction for sailing...

EXCEPT 15 TO 20 KT S OF 23N. SEAS 5 TO 8 FT E OF BAHAMAS AND 2 TO 4 FT W OF BAHAMAS.

Low seas we could really support, though! Sun the winds are supposed to moderate through the day, getting weaker by evening. See what they say about Monday?

.MON......N OF 28N W OF 70W VARIABLE S TO SW WINDS 5 TO 10 KT. SEAS 3 TO 4 FT IN NE TO E SWELL. FROM 25N TO 28N VARIABLE WINDS 5 TO 10 KT. SEAS 4 TO 6 FT. S OF 25N NE TO E WINDS 10 TO 15 KT...SEAS 5 TO 7 FT E OF BAHAMAS AND 2 TO 4 FT W OF BAHAMAS.

Sounds about as good as it's gonna get. We may have to wait until Monday once we are at our jumping-off anchorage, but that is no problem.

We want to avoid having wind against current in the Gulf Stream if at all possible, light winds better than heavy.

THE APPROXIMATE SHOREWARD EDGE OF THE GULF STREAM AS OF FEBRUARY 1ST...
...
19 NM S OF SOMBRERO KEY LIGHT...OFF MARATHON.
18 NM SE OF ALLIGATOR REEF LIGHT...OFF ISLAMORADA.
15 NM SE OF MOLASSES REEF LIGHT...OFF KEY LARGO.

But it seems that every weather forecast is different. This one is also NWS, for http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?zoneid=AMZ671
FWYF1 Fowey Rocks
Lat: 25.59°N Lon: 80.1°W (slightly NE of us, we will go this way)
Last Update on Feb 2, 12:00 am EST

Saturday Night...East winds 13 to 16 knots. Seas 2 to 4 feet. Intracoastal waters a moderate chop. Slight chance of showers.

Sunday...Southeast winds 10 to 13 knots. Seas 2 to 3 feet. Intracoastal waters a moderate chop. Slight chance of showers.

Sunday Night...Southeast winds 5 to 7 knots. Seas 2 feet. Intracoastal waters smooth. Slight chance of showers.

Monday...East northeast winds 6 to 9 knots. Seas 2 feet. Intracoastal waters a light chop. Slight chance of showers.


Weird. Sounds OK, but despite the area outlined in red being the forecast area, they make it sound pretty near-coastal.

Another really good graphical predictor (good in the sense of complete, but they were not correct about our trip down here!) is Stormsurf: http://www.stormsurf.com/locals/miami.shtml

They say we should go next Wednesday... ugh... so does windfinder: http://www.windfinder.com/forecast/bahia_honda_key_state_park

So we may just work our way NE and wait to see what the weather does. It's a great area with plenty of places to wait!



Newer ]  |  [ Older ]

 

 
Powered by SailBlogs