Forecast and Reality - Making Weather Decisions
12 May 2016 | Atlantic Ocean 140 miles South of Fort Lauderdale
We expect to roll into town by mid-day tomorrow. Well, that's what we forecast.
Early on we made our first time commitment to our son Cliff to meet him in Detroit. We missed him by weeks. That was then and this is now. The process by which we forecast our whereabouts is done on the fly. We download maps, order cruising guides, talk to fellow cruisers, talk to each other and read books about local history. We parlay that all together (me the map downloading and device management, Pamela the reading and book buying and together talking to others) and make decisions daily, just like we always have when we traveled the tour de france in 04 and the many camping, canoe, cross country family trips we've taken together. Today was no different.
Our sailing armada speaks once a day on the SSB radio on our very on "net' as they call them. They have rotating leaders which we are one of, that lead a brief run down of emergency issues, location and weather of vessels and any chatty topic of conversation that comes to mind, including navigation expectations given the more seasoned vessels in our fleet. Our leader in Carina, a beautiful Tayana 55 center cockpit and another in a Saga 48, Altair have done this run multiple times. The nets are always short and sweet and maybe even a little gruff with little to no chatty conversation as by and large they are all attended by men. Those of you that know men get it. Grumpf.
Another cruising couple we have befriended or should I say have befriended us, the bumbling newbies of the group who know us when we came together on the Caribbean 1500 as having left 3 days behind the fleet with engine troubles. They first introduced us to the come back to warm sunny Florida and not the cold Chesapeake in May are on a Saga 43 that is much the same design as ours, long distance performance cruiser. Their boat is Free Spirit and I must say it becomes them. They work together to manage their boat and schedule, divide and conquering like we do. They both are characters and have much more sailing experience than we do. She introduced us to the "lady's net" which is a separate radio time that is less structured and more focused on conversation than information exchange. Its at 1300 daily and if any of the other boats are like ours Pamela does the talking while I listen in unobtrusively to topics ranging from fishing, watch schedules and today, navigation..
This is where it got a little weird. We have been understandably concerned about the gulf stream crossing having done it alone in calm waters on the way down only once before. About halfway into the conversation today Pamela sticks her head out into the cockpits and says "mrs doubtfire is attending today's ladys radio net and will answer all of your questions about the gulf stream" Many of you remember Robin Williams hilarious portrayal of the same was being imitated by a crew member on Free Spirit, who as Pamela reminded me won the navigators award for the trip down on the C1500. My biggest questions was when and where do you pick up the GS? Do you cut across the straights of Florida to get it early or do you make a bee line for the destination and get it the last 25 miles? The former longer miles but potentially shorter time given the boost of the 2.5-4.5 knot current. Mrs Doubtfire took our position and made a recommendation of where to enter it and explained the best way to use the GS is to enter it so that you generally can move north and slightly west to cross, riding it like and escalator to your destination rather than try to cross it at a more right angle that may be impossible to get to your destination as you blast by it trying to use your 8 knot speed to cross a 4.5 northbound current. Sort of like shooting at a target from a speeding car out the side window. Afterwards I realized he had carried on the entire discussion in a poor impression of Mrs Doubtfire over a SSB radio all to make sure thta he was not man crashing his first mate's lady's radio chat.
We reset our target for directly south of our destination so that while the Florida coast extends outward to the east as it heads north, we'll be tucked safely in the gulf stream making 12 knots to our destination by tomorrow morning.
At least that's what we forecast.