Possible Weather Window
08 November 2007 | Gulf of Tehuantepec, Mexico
We left Puerto Madero this morning at about 6am for Huatulco. The Mexican Navy came to escort us out of the harbor. It was the same team that had searched us the evening before: eight men in combat gear with AK-47s (the weapon of choice for Central American militaries it seems) and a senior officer. They were very nice. However, there was some confusion as perhaps they had expected us to leave already. We thought we were supposed to wait for them in the morning. They came along side and waited for us to raise our anchor, set the main, and motor out of the harbor.
Our weather window to cross the Gulf of Tehuantepec is looking good for Friday midday. We have about one days sailing to get in to the Gulf. The Gulf of Tehuantepec is notorious for gale to storm force winds that can blow for weeks at a time kicking up dangerous sea conditions that are felt a couple hundred miles offshore. There are many stories of vessels being lost or severely damaged in these waters. So we plan to be careful.
There are two main strategies for yachts crossing the Gulf. One is to hug the shoreline so as to avoid the worst of the waves and deal with the wind which blows offshore. The other is to keep 500 miles from shore and hopefully avoid both wind and waves. We are opting for the first strategy as the second would require a fair amount of back tracking.
We have been diligently checking the weather for a period of reduced winds. For the last couple of weeks, it has been blowing a gale but, it is supposed to abate for a short period on Friday and again on Sunday. We watch weather faxes broadcasted via SSB from the U.S. Coast Guard in New Orleans and Point Reyes, California, and GRIB weather files using our radio email system. We also spoke to Don on Summer's Passage, in Oxnard California, by SSB this morning and he confirmed the window. Don is a cruiser who happens to be a weather guru and maintains daily radio schedules so that cruiser can get weather information.