Saying Fare Well to the Abacos comes in two parts.
First, we hope these people Fare Well as they continue to recover from Irene and a bad travel economy and to evolve as a Nation. Except for the limitations of dependency on imports and climate (limited rain and hurricanes), we saw no reason to believe they won’t. We met a lot of people working hard so we didn’t have to. Sure, things are different here, but those differences are the spice of these islands — la raison pour la croisière.
Second, we need to manage our itinerary for weather that cooperates with us for returning — so we Fare Well. Just as we holed up in Great Sale for six days on our arrival, we have been holed up here at Treasure Cay for just as long (and more enjoyably) while a wet and windy trough to sloooowly crossed the Bahamas. Hopefully, just as the weather after Great Sale provided a cool, sunny, beautiful welcome mat, it will provide us with a steady breeze from a good direction to return to Florida.
Our timing continues to be a matter of 1/3 intuition, 1/3 tuition, and 1/3 what we see around us. The tuition part has been interesting. We have used NOAA, BarometerBob, Windfinder, MagicSeaweed, and GRIB files to inform our decisions about moving from A to B for three months now.
What have we learned? Weather reports here, at the local scale, are much more variable than we are used to. While the weather here is generally describable, it seems to be a bit less predictable than on the Chesapeake, for instance.
On the Chesapeake over thirty years, we have found day-to-day variability in forecasts has been about 40%. In other words, about three of seven just just didn’t hold up from day to day. Here, we have found that number to be closer to 55%.
- Temperature has been the best predicted — not surprisingly since the ocean temp tends to significantly moderate the air temps.
- Wind direction has been the next best predicted although we have found winds tend to clock 20-30 degrees around sunset — a factor in an a partially exposed anchorage (if the wind is up).
- Wind speed comes next with increases and decreases coming earlier and later than predicted.
- Precipitation has been the least well predicted — for one prediction period, 12 hour updates to the forecast indicated we would receive 10 in, then 4 in, then 1 in then, 0.4 in of rain. (And this morning a shower was falling as the Net weather briefer was reciting a forecast with no rain in it.)
So what? When one comes to the Abacos, one needs to be prepared to sit and wait while being ready to go and go now!
Inside the Little Bahama Bank and the Sea of Abaco (unless one is running out of water or maintenance meds or reading material), this is seldom a dilemma.
Crossing the Stream, being ready to go and equally or more ready to wait is the crux of the matter. Being ready to go means being wherever whatever jump one plans can be made in conditions appropriate to the craft and crew. This means being pre-positioned to make the decision.
So to Fare Well, one must begin one’s farewells early, as we did today, and begin working one’s way west to have days in reserve at the edge of the Stream for threading the needle between good weather and best.