Window Watching

No, it’s not Hitchcock, and no, we didn’t misspell “washing.” We are back into that mode of looking for and at weather windows for running down the coast from Fort Pierce to West Palm (163°T), W. Palm to Port Everglades (186°T) and Port E to West End, BS (058°T).

Window Watching

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These are the things we consider.

thunderTHUNDERSTORMS We’ve been offshore in thunderstorms. We do not consider that fun. If we are there when then they develop or sweep in, we attempt to avoid them. If we are going somewhere where avoiding them is constrained by shorelines and currents, etc, we wait them out. And sometimes we just get clobbered.

rainVISIBILITY Yes we have radar, but radar in the rain can miss the small stuff, and so can we when its raining. Given the congestion (and floating garbage) along the Florida coast, we prefer not to be coasting in restricted visibility.

GSWGULF STREAM WIND We do not get into even the edges of the Stream when there is a northerly component to the wind. Sustained easterly winds push the Stream toward the beach, so we often find ourselves less than a mile off the beach to avoid the heaviest current and sometimes to pick up the counter-current. Even in a south flowing counter-current the swell from the stream makes its way to the beach. So going coast-wise under sail at reasonable speed pretty much requires a due east or due west wind — rare, and usually associated with a recent or impending shift and, therefore temporary. SE-SW winds mean beating, which can add 25% to the time required. If the headwinds are over 12-15 it becomes a slog.

GSWANCHORAGE WINDS Anchoring in West Palm is problematic. It is an unconstrained wind tunnel N-S (long fetch). Winds over 12 mph without a significant E or W component (and preferably E) turn the anchorage into a very lively place and not one to be stuck in. One really wants to do the two legs in two days.

dollarMARINA DAYS  Marinas are expensive whether they offer a good value or not. For most places, the break-even day for daily rates for thirty days vs the monthly rate is between 9-11 days. So paying for a month and leaving between day 9/10/11 and day 31 is the cheapest solution (if you need marina services and access). But pay for a month and have a window come early, and you better hope the marina is willing to drop back to daily billing.

jetJET STREAM  It’s not on the chart, but the behavior of the jet stream is a big deal. When it hangs around the high latitudes and seldom dips south, the weather windows tend to be often and wide. When the jet stream wobbles its way deeply south and often, the windows tend to be less frequent and narrower. That’s what is going on now.

And so it goes, we’ll trade it for shoveling snow and commuting.

 

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