Big System Coming

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For quite some time now we have been watching a very large low in the weather models coming down from Greenland. The storm is currently predicted to bring 20′ waves on 10 second period, with 25 to 30 kt winds.  With 20′ waves nominal, there will be some that approach or exceed our 30′ mast height. We are highly motivated to avoid this worst of this one.

Speed was one option. At normal speeds we will pass right through the worst of it. We worked through the impact of ignoring fuel economy constraints and running full speed to pass prior to it moving across our course line. But, in rough conditions we are unlikely to get better than 8 kts and the storm is too wide for that tactic to be effective.

Our next best choice is to proceed normally and then put the bow into the weather and run at low speed for 26 hours until the fairly fast moving weather system passes to the south of us. This is a perfectly reasonable tactic but 20′ waves are big, some will be as high as 30′, and we are still carrying deck fuel in the cockpit. The predicted wave height with wave frequency in the eight- to nine-second range make this option less desirable

A third option is to run super slow and let the storm pass since the intense core is predicted to pass in just over 1 day. On this model we run slow for 3 to 4 days but avoid the worst of a potentially dangerous storm. The downside of this approach is there is another low pressure system heading north up the coast. If we run too slow, we get 15′ beam seas with 30 kt winds. Undesirable but not unsafe.

We don’t love any of the options but plan to head slightly south and run 4.5 kts and then head north into the weather while the worst of the storm passes and them pass above it and go get the good weather the blocking high pressure system over the North Atlantic has waiting for us.

We’ll take this last approach and that is why we are currently running so slowly. If the weather model is correct and there are no further mechanical problems, we’ll be in good shape. I don’t expect any mechanical problems and weather predictions 3 or 4 days out are normally fairly accurate.

We’re guessing we’ll be busier than usual for the next few days but we’ll be back blogging the trip in a day or so once things settle back down.


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10 comments on “Big System Coming
  1. Greg says:

    You guys sure have been blessed with good weather compared to Florida & surrounding areas.
    Good luck

    • We’ve crossed the pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. We have crossed some bodies of water that are much smaller than a major ocean crossing but still have earned, over the years, a justifiably bad reputation for weather. For example the Tasman Sea and Bass Strait. Through all those off shore trips, we have always seen fairly good weather and generally feel like we had good luck. Our last Atlantic crossing felt different with three major lows during the 17 day crossing. Still nothing dangerous and not really scary if we hadn’t have had some systems problems developing at the same time but that crossing isn’t one I would have described as lucky.

      Certainly the weather systems in the Caribbean and Florida area right now are incredibly dangerous with nearly massive property damage and lives being lost. We have never seen anything even hinting at that power from a weather perspective and hope everyone battling these unusually intense weather systems are able to secure themselves and their families against them and minimize the negative impacts on property.

  2. Greg says:

    Voice of the sea
    Avoid hurricane ally Irma’s letting everyone know who’s boss!

  3. richard bost says:

    Looks like winds should lighten, down to mid to high teens over next 12 hours, but then after that build quite strongly again.
    My experience in these types of systems is the respite is only about 6 hours.
    But with the upper air ridge building in and moving east, this last big system should be your last one before arrival.

    It’ll be a hard 48 hours, but that’s the North Atlantic for you.
    I too found the stabilization most effective on a beam sea.

  4. Wyatt says:

    Hope you’re both ok. Looking forward to the next update.

    • Thanks Wyatt. All is systems are working great and, even though the weather over the last 18 hours or so is the worst we have been in, it’s no big deal when things are running right.

      Current conditions are improving fast and the rest of the trip looks good on the weather models.

  5. Stewart says:

    Wow James and Jennifer. I am really happy to learn you are both okay after such a frightening experience. Having those redundant pumping systems really paid off. Hope there are no more disastrous moments like that and the rest of your voyage is uneventful.

    • Waking up to screaming bilge pump alarm and seeing the main bilge water going up fast when 100s of miles from shore definitely catches ones attention. The water was coming so fast that just a couple of minutes after the alarm sounded, the water is up to the engine walk around level with the starboard side with a couple of inches of water.

      • Steve Ross says:

        Did you have time to grab a cup of coffee first? You guys are an amazing team and being able to assess and act without panic is a great asset that you possess duee to your preparation and diligence. Forward Ho!

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