We are in for a period of really cold weather, at least for Southeast Alaska, with temperatures going down to zero (F) by early next week and staying in the single digits for a week or more.
I’ve had to turn up my Wallas heater, no longer content to leave it on the minimum setting. On its thermostat scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the minimum, I now run it at 2 to 3 at night and 4 to 5 in the day. That keeps the salon in the mid-60s in the day and the forward cabin mid-50’s at night. That OK to sleep, since I also have a heating pad that takes the chill off the bed before bedtime.
A heating pad is a requirement if you are living in a cold winter climate. Before the heating pad came into my life, when I would return to the boat after some week’s absence, that first night was so cold. I could never tell if the bed was wet or just cold. (It was just cold).
We are still hooked up to dock water. Dauntless is located at the far end of the dock. The harbor keeps a valve open at the end of the dock to keep the water from freezing. It’s been successful so far.
We had a little cold spell a few weeks ago and I made the mistake of not running the water in the boat all night. The first night, my water hose and filter froze. Now, for the last 5 days since this cold spell, I have kept the midships head sink running water on and now even turn on the forward head sink. I also have the hose that is connected to the dock water running under the boat, so just a few feet are exposed to the cold air.
Our water tanks are full with about 250 gallons of water, so that is our fallback position if we lose dock water.
I had taken our storm windows off while the boat was in Mexico. Never needed them for wave protection, but they acted wonderfully in not allowing any condensation on the pilot house windows during the winter. Once the wind stops blowing, I will pull them out of storage and ready them to put back up. The pilot house is very cold now, near 38°F. My curtain keeps the cold air there as the salon is almost 70.
My bigger issue is that we will be taking the boat out again in February when halibut season opens, and I want to stop the condensation on the windows.
On a different note, I have uploaded another YouTube piece on my trip from California to Alaska. The first 15 minutes of the video are interesting, after that it gets dark and hard to see anything.
My first wife was a vegetarian. While I wasn’t, I did eat less mean than previously and tried not to cook meat that produced smoke (like hamburger) in the house. Therefore, since the mid-‘70’s, I’ve had a BBQ grill no matter where I lived.
Whether in Fairbanks, Alaska, Italy, Germany or now, on Dauntless, I’ve always had a grill. Since the early ‘80’s, when I lived alone in Southern California, I came to appreciate the convenience of a gas-powered grill.
For 30 years, I’d always buy the cheapest two or three burner BBQ I could find. They would typically last half a dozen years before it was time for a replacement. Sometimes that replacement could be hastened, as when moving to a new house in Fairbanks, the grill was packed in the back of the pickup and at some point, fell out.
Fast forward a decade, living in a typically small one-bedroom apartment in New York (Manhattan to the uninitiated), I had only a little hibachi that we would put on the windowsill of our apartment to use.
We wanted a real terrace or patio, so we could have a real BBQ grill again. Though we were able to satisfy our craving for burnt meat as we did BBQ almost every weekend on my mother’s apartment terrace in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach/Coney Island.
So, we started looking for a new rental apartment in New York and going to listing of an apartment building that I had actually looked at one year earlier, on 57th St. We really like the location and the building, though the apartment itself had a weird layout, as did its terrace.
In talking to the real estate agent, Dennis Daniel, (for anyone looking for a place in NY), he convinced us that we should and could buy an apartment in New York instead of renting. He was a true master in terms of helping us understand what we really wanted and then helping us recognize it when we saw it.
Thus in 2007, When we moved to our new rooftop apartment in New York in 2007. Having spent half a million dollars for a one-bedroom apartment, I considered our choice of grills. This was the primary reason we had moved after all.
Reading so many rave reviews about the Weber, I figured the extra few hundred dollars it would cost was worth it. Thus, in the summer of 2007, I bought my first Weber, the Genesis.
A cooking pamphlet came with the grill, which essentially said, forgot what you think you know, do it this way and your foods, will come out perfectly.
I did and they did. Other than following directions and understanding the difference between direct and indirect heat, the build quality and more importantly the heavy iron materials used, made all the difference.
With its heavy cast iron components, the grill was able to hold heat extremely well. Thus, I did make the best steaks I had ever cooked. The reviews raving about the Weber were spot on. It did make a difference. I even used the Weber to bake apple pies, since I was able to put a little smoke into them. While I miss that Weber and that rooftop a little, I also know that it set the stage for my circumnavigation on Dauntless. I’d been there 7 years, the longest I’d lived anywhere in the previous 50 years. Dauntless had come into our lives and it was time to move on. I also know myself well enough that I’d get bored with heaven after 7 years.
In the first months with Dauntless, still in Florida before we made the trip to the Northeast, I found a light, “boat” grill. I figured I was on a boat, I had to make a sacrifice. There really wasn’t room for a larger Weber “portable” grill.
While coming north on the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW), we used the grill once. What a disappointment. It had trouble really getting hot. But within a couple of days the ICW solved the problem for me. The grill was mounted on the port rail near the stern.
One day while motoring northward, I got too close to a channel marker that was mounted on a telephone pole stuck in the water. I panicked and instead of turning the wheel, I tried to turn off the autopilot, but didn’t succeed. The pole swept along the port side rubbing on the rub rail until it got the grill, at which point it mangled the grill and mounting bracket that I had had made for it.
The grill ended up in the dumpster in St. Augustine. The Dutch friends who were with me at the time, had come from rainy Holland to get some sun, found Florida with the worst weather in years. When they left to return to Holland a week later, they were thankful to get away with their lives and back to the rain they were familiar with.
Could have been worse.
Besides you’ve read about all these close calls before. Well, most of them!
Weber had the Q-280, which was the largest of their “portable” grills and would use a normal 20-pound propane connection. I got it and it had been on Dauntless ever since.
I’ve grilled in temperatures as cold as minus 30°F (-35°C) in Fairbanks, so I wasn’t going to let a little snow get in the way yesterday.
We had planned to have steaks and we did. Delicious as ever. Thanks Weber.
Vallejo to Crescent City California, 26 to 28 June 2019.
I’m finally getting around to writing in detail about my cruise up the west coast.
Since this is a past summary, I am going to change the format a bit. I have also started a You tube channel, Dauntless at Sea, where I am posting the Go Pro videos, I took along with some commentary of what is going on.
So, this blog will be a short summary about the start of my voyage to Alaska in the summer of 2019. We (John a friend/crew joined me from California to Astoria, left Vallejo on 26 June and arrived in Crescent City on the evening of the 28th. It was a miserable trip.
The data above shows the first three days were punctuated by three significant bouts of head seas, 3 to 5-foot waves on short 3 or 4 second periods which produced a miserable hobby horse ride, with constant pitching up and down.
Adding insult to injury, this also slowed the boat considerably, so instead of doing our normal 6+ knots, we were in the 3.8 to 4.8 range. Yes, that also means the miserable ride is 50% longer than normal, while fuel consumption remains steady, based on engine rpms, but fuel consumption per mile is also 25% down. Therefore, the miserable time is extended, and you pay 50% more for the experience.
Here is a little summer by period:
Dist (nm) per time pd
Avg speed (kts)
Cumm Dist (nm)
Running avg sp (kts)
That first 1 hr. and 17 minutes was the time it took to leave Vallejo and stop in Benicia for fuel. So the next time period started once we left Benicia.
Overall, it was 324 nautical miles in 55 hours and 17 minutes. We anchored in 12 feet of water in Cresencet City Bay at 19:54 on the 28th.
My You Tube channel is a work in progress. Please feel free to leave comments on You Tube about any suggestions or things I need to explain better or clarify. I am also still debating as to how to best upload the long Go Pro videos that frankly are quiet boring.
Saturday was supposed to be a respite between the storm systems that roll over the North Pacific and into the Gulf of Alaska. Light winds, periods of no rain. That’s great.
It wasn’t to be.
Since the beginning, I’ve told anyone who would listen to never bet your safety on a weather forecast. And in my hay day, I was a very good weather forecaster. The WSFO in Juneau writes a great weather discussion and does a great job overall in a very difficult environment, where local effects significantly affect the local weather.
Saturday looked to be the best day of the week, so I planned on an overnight. We would go to Woronofski Island and leave our crab pot that in the past has been very good. Then we would head south along Zimovia Strait about 8 miles and drop a shrimp pot on each side of the strait in about 300 and 180 feet of water respectively. Then, instead of heading another hour south to anchor in a more protected bay, I decided we could anchor just off Wrangell Island, in a little channel, with a little island to the west.
Untying the lines Saturday noon, the winds were light, but there was light rain. As we motored out of the harbor, the winds picked up significantly. They were southerly at 17 knots!
Now that’s normally a showstopper. But being in Southeast Alaska, even though in this case the winds are channeled down the strait, the seas these winds produced were only about one foot. I’ll take it. I’m guessing the winds just picked up and had been light overnight.
As we headed south, winds continued about 15 knots on our bow, but again no real waves. We dropped the first shrimp pot and headed to drop the second.
All went well. The little channel was just as it looked on the charts. We anchored in 30 feet of water. The anchor dragged about 30 feet before it set, I could hear/feel it being pulled over rocks. I decided to put the snubber on, since the winds had not let up and were in the mid-teens coming up the strait.
This Kadey Krogen is more reactive to the current than winds. So, I knew we would sit parallel to shore facing south until the current turned and then we would turn around. We’ve done this many times and my Delta anchor has never dragged.
I could hear the snubber rubbing as we changed direction a couple of times that night (night for me starts when the sun goes down, 16:00 to 08:00), but that’s not what got me up.
For the last few months, my batteries have been acting sulfated, in spite of being equalized a few times. I have four 8D batteries, each with 230 amp-hours. They are four years old and I had already separated them then checked the individual voltages after some time. They were all within 0.01v; that’s very good.
If the load on the fully charged batteries is 20 amps, then the voltage plummets quickly. In three and a half hours, the voltage was 12.51 at minus 56 amp-hours. Not terrible
I decided we would run the generator for an hour, to renew our hot water and batteries for the evening before bed. The Genny started after a minute of coaxing. When I turned it off an hour and quarter later, with the voltage 13.14v and the batteries at -26 amp-hrs. OK
An hour later, it was 12.73v and -44 amp-hr. Great, but as expected, only 4 hours later, I got up to check and the voltage was 10.50v at only -82 amp-hrs., that’s an SOC of 91%. I started the gen and went back to sleep. Nicely, I can hardly hear the gen in my cabin. I woke up again at 04:00, three hours later, and turned it off.
At 06:15 I got up for good and the voltage was still 12.77v at -47 amp-hrs.
At 07:00 I turned on the gen, just to help facilitate the hot water kettle and rice cooker. I left the gen on as I pulled up the anchor also.
Now, the last little hiccup.
Since the gen was running, I wanted to see how well the windlass worked on gen power versus engine power, so I started pulling up the anchor. I had already taken the snubber off earlier that morning.
I was so enthralled with how vigorous the windlass was on the generator that it wasn’t until the anchor was off the bottom that I realized I had not started the engine.
Ooops – Welcome to my world
Start the engine and within a minute it is running very rough. Oh no, what now. I run down to the engine room and the engine sounds terrible. All kinds of wild thoughts ran thru my mind in seconds. All of them expensive.
In the engine room, a quick glance shows no obvious problems. That tank feed is open, as is the return. Then I see that the vacuum gauge on the Racors is showing 12 inches of Hg. That means the engine has been starved of fuel because…
I check the fuel valves again. An added factor is the additional three valves on the aux fuel pump. I use this pump to fill the filters and bleed the system when I change fuel filters.
I notice that the gravity feed valve is closed. Oops, I close it when I fill the 10-liter Wallas Heater fuel tank.
Opening that valve, allows the vacuum gauge to go to zero. Good. We start the engine again and after about a minute, it is running like normal.
Now, back under power and underway, we got to our shrimp pot and haul it in to discover all of two shrimp and a spider crab on the outside. The spider crab went back to the sea.
The second shrimp pot was empty and the crab pot, which previously had 10 crab, now had two.
6 hours of engine time, plus 6 hours of Gen time means 6×1.4+6.1=14.4 gallons of fuel @$3.52 here =$50 for 2 shrimp and 2 Dungeness crabs. Not Bad.
Never complain about the boat or weather, because it can always get worse.
All in all, 24 hours later, we were back to the dock; an interesting day.
This is my first time living in the Southeast; my last three periods of Alaska habitation having occurred in or around Fairbanks, the heart of the interior.
And the difference between the Interior (of Alaska) and the Southeast is pretty much night and day.
The intense cold of winter in the Interior has a finality to it that is omniscient yet can be fatal. I’ve been afraid at various times in the Interior. In the Southeast, it’s a sea life, certainly dangerous in its own way, but then I’m not afraid of the sea. At least not in a well-found boat, like my Kadey Krogen.
The people are somewhat similar, nice, helpful, but then and now, it just seems Southeast people are even nicer, friendlier and even a bit smarter.
Dauntless, Larry, my oldest Alaska friend of 46 years and a stalwart crew mate on Dauntless these last 5 years, and I arrived in Ketchikan almost two months ago. It’s been a busy two months!
Too busy to go into detail here and now, but as the winter sets in and I have time to take a breath, I’ll fill in the details.
Everything has gone to plan, even our cute, little wedding in Tenakee Hot Springs. I have hours and hours of video of the Inside Passage, Southeast Alaska from Ketchikan to Juneau and of course, Tee and Thien.
The three of us have started the next chapter of our lives in Wrangell. A great little community of about 2500 people. I felt a lot of pressure to decide on the right locality and school for Tee and Thien. While I knew we would be somewhere in the southeast, I didn’t want to settle on the exact location until we had been in the harbor and visited the school. Thien has his last two years of high school to complete.
I’m pleased to say that Wrangell High School could not be better, with a great staff and leadership. That’s not as easy to find as one would think considering all the money we throw at education.
Tee is getting used to living on a boat, having to manage our electrical load and crappy internet access. Thankfully, she is not as terrified as she first was whenever we encountered any waves greater than one foot. We’re up to about two feet now.
On the other hand, both Tee and Thien are fishing fanatics. We certainly are eating a lot of fish the locals would only use for bait. And they LOVE crab, so every once in a while, Tee does see glimmer of her dream life in America. Though I’ll admit that whenever “the dream” is mentioned, I sense a hint of sarcasm, that would make a New Yorker proud.
Maybe more than a hint, as she does her imitation of being on the toilet as the boat is rolling back and fourth!
I was shocked to see that I had not written any blog posts in weeks. I certainly wrote a considerable number in my head.
Alas, my laptop has not figured how to read my mind, though I am sure Google is working on it.
Leaving Astoria, a wonderful little town, at the mouth of the Columbia, at the crack of dawn, I was geared up for my last day on the Pacific.
After two years of slogging up the Pacific coast from the Panama Canal, Neah Bay and the protected waters of the Inside Passage, was only a day away.
My departure time was predicated on a number of factors:
I wanted to go out during the ebb, in this case, I’d have a +4-current going out with me, this was important since the dock was more than 10 miles from the entrance of the Columbia River and its infamous bar.
Winds were forecast to be from the northwest at 10 to 12 which was OK, anything less than 15 to 18 being good at this point.
It would be 150 nm to Neah Bay, about 24 hours steaming time. From my early days driving crossing the country in 3 days, I knew that overnight was not so bad, but as soon as the sun came up for that second 24-hour period, I become intensely tired. So, I wanted to arrive at Neah Bay at sunrise or soon thereafter.
The winds were blowing from the Northwest (as usual) perpendicular to the Columbia Bar and not against the current. They were not very strong, being 10 to 12 knots. So, I expected relatively benign conditions, much like my midnight arrival a couple of days earlier. I even called the Coast Guard to get the latest Bar report as I got close.
The report was, “one to three feet with no restrictions”, just as it was when we entered. In fact, entering we could not even tell when we passed the Bar itself, other than what the chart told us.
In fact, I had composed a fantastical account in my head of that midnight bar crossing to cater to all the folks who expect a horror show every time they hear the words. “Columbia Bar”. I was going to title it, “Smashed by the Bar” and even include a picture of the dent in my swim platform that actually occurred at the fuel dock in Astoria when the bow line let loose.
But my fantastical account never got written. My short attention span was soon captured by Englund Marine Supply in Astoria. A warehouse filled with everything imaginable and a lot beyond my imagination. My original paravane birds were purchased from this exact store, then shipped to me in Florida. Now, 5 years later, I would be buying another set in-person. Maybe trivial to many, but for me, quite prophetic.
If you are in the Northwest, it’s a must stop.
Leaving Astoria that morning, the fourth of July, everything was battened down (or so I thought), as is the norm for ocean cruising. Minutes before reaching the Bar, I again heard the same observation from the Coast Guard Station the north shore of the Columbia inlet, 1 to 3 feet, 2 to 4 at the center.
I was in the center. Still, all seemed uneventful and after 5 minutes, I thought that was it, much like my entry a few days ago.
But not quite.
Oh, this is the infamous Columbia Bar. The next 10 minutes were like riding the Wild Mouse in Coney Island: violent pitching, wicked rolls, slamming through waves, very un-Kadey Krogen like. But just like all the times before, the wonderful bow rise of the KK keeps all the water outside. We go over waves, never thru them. The only casualty was my laptop now has a Columbia Bar dent in its casing. The Maretron data shows a 4° pitch, that’s a lot, when it happens it feels like 45°.
I’m reminded of an unpleasant breakup: doors slamming, loud words, ugly glances; a long ten minutes.
But then silence, calmness descends. The house is quiet, just like the ocean is quiet now. Light northerly breezes. I contemplate life alone for the next 14 hours.
As darkness descends, off the west coast of Washington state, the seas turn glassy. Dauntless is gliding along under a star lit sky.
A door opens, the one that was slammed not so long ago, a contrite face looks in, later, the seductive voice, this is our last night together. I look at my bent laptop. We can’t say goodbye like that.
Who can say no to that; not I.
Seas were flat and glassy as we glided along. Numerous sea birds, dolphins and other aquatic beasts passed by for a visit.
By late evening, as it became truly dark, I could see fireworks from two different west coast Washington towns. (Almost like a ’60’s movie in which the bedroom door closes and we see a cartoon of fireworks. )
It was like the last gentle caress. A kiss on the cheek, soft words: “now you are going to inland waters, while I must find some other intrepid souls.
You are a little too nice, too mild, even naive; but I’ll always love you and wait for your return.
I’ve been ready to leave Vallejo for a month now. This is getting old. But I have vowed not to let myself be beat up any ore than usual.
I spent much of last week organizing parts. I thought I had only two types of hose clamps, stainless and non stainless, which I separated last year. If only life would be so easy.
As you can see from the attached picture, I have essentially 7 different stainless-steel hose clamps and guess what, that large bunch in the back of the organizer all have stainless bands, but non stainless screws! That’s totally worthless. I wish I could be sure that that bunch was not Made in America!
And they are also organized now by the size of the screw: 5mm, ¼”, 6mm, 7mm, 8mm. this allows me to easily use the same size for any particular job, as opposed to discovering that the dual clamped sanitary hoses have two different sizes of nuts.
I’m now doing things that were not on the list, like measuring the paravane bird rigging. When we left Martinique, 5,000 miles ago, I had the birds set to run 19 feet below the water surface. that’s 5 feet deeper than previously, as I finally realized that in larger seas, waves greater than 10 feet, the bird itself was being picked up in the rotor of the wave, negating much of its effect.
Since Martinique all has been good on that front. Now, I made sure of the depth and also marked the poles. In addition, I re-rigged the extra line, so that I can quickly run then 10 feet deeper if the situation, really large seas, warrant it, without stopping or even slowing down. With the re-rigging, I just have to take out a few clove hitches and the extra 10 feet is free.
Here is also a before and after picture of the driving lights. They are handy when anchoring in strange spots with other boats or mooring buoys around. I’ve also used them in dark, narrow, lonely channels. T
I’ve been ready to leave Vallejo for a couple of weeks. But the winds off the northern California coast are proving to be more persistent than the northerly winds off the Mexican coast last year. There is a blocking high pressure area in the eastern Pacific that just won’t leave. It’s certainly been there almost all spring. Doesn’t it realize summer is almost here?
One of the other manifestations of this weather pattern is the north east has been cooler than normal. Let New York have the brutal hot and humid conditions they are used to and let me have gentle breezes.
So, in the meantime, I am organizing.
I had wanted to put off this tool and parts re-organization until this summer when Ti and Thien are with me. I had thought that it would be a good way for them to understand what things are, where they go and how we use them.
Oh well, the best laid plans of mice and men, sometimes go astray.
During the last two months as I have worked on various projects on Dauntless, countless jobs have taken longer than they should because I can’t find the right tool or part. Admittedly, it doesn’t help that I have spent 20 minutes looking for a flashlight that I could not find because it was ON and my brain was not looking for something that was lite, no matter how obvious.
I have also spent 15 minutes looking all over the boat, for a part I had just found only to have placed it someplace. 15 minutes! I knew I had put it someplace I wouldn’t lose it. Where was it? In my left hand!!
Talk about the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing!
So, a re-organization is necessary. I mentioned before that I had mixed stainless-steel bolts and screws with non-stainless. But I discovered I did not just have one tray organizer like that, but three or four. I also found fasteners that I thought I had but couldn’t find.
Now, everything is in its right place.
I also had the problem of finding four 13 mm wrenches, but not the one 14 mm I was looking for. Now, I have a full set hanging in the engine room (before I just had the 13, 14, 19, and large adjustable that I needed for the fuel filters).
Tomorrow, I’ll tackle my electric parts. I know I have a lot, 220 v, 110 v, 12 v, but the 5 or 6 containers I thought I had has grown to more than a dozen.
I had hoped to leave Vallejo for my trip north as early as a week ago. It wasn’t to be and with the eastern Pacific high showing signs that it doesn’t know that summer is here, I doubt I will leave before mid-month!
Talking with a boating friend Friday who is very attuned to the weather in Northern California, he told me that normally, this eastern Pacific high is strongest in April, when it produces the strongest Northerly winds. But it’s now June and the April high is still here.
As a weather forecaster, the shoulder of the seasons, spring becoming summer, etc. is the hardest thing to predict. Each season has its own peculiarities, as well as the type and strength of the weather produced.
One crosses the North Atlantic in July because that’s definitely summer. Low pressure areas in the North Atlantic in July are the fewest and weakest of the year. Winds are almost never above 50 knots. When I was planning my first Atlantic Crossing, that’s why our planned departure was in July. June and August are the shoulder months, August weather can quickly transition to fall. Two sailboats were abandoned off the coast of France in a May storm, a few years ago. That I found myself in the North Atlantic in late August is a story I have related a number of times. Needless to say, the weather was worse than the month before and the successive three lows that rolled over me during my last 72 hours were definitely a sign of fall type weather; summer was over.
Now, I’m waiting for spring to end. In the meantime, having gotten almost all my projects done, I am now cleaning up the small things.
My fly bridge has never looked so good. All my mild steel items, cotter pins, bolts, nuts, have been replaced with stainless steel. In the past, I used what was handy. During the last couple of months, I have spent days removing rusted fasteners or clevis pins that are ruined because they have a rusted cotter pin inside.
I also added a line of lights for the galley and added a lighted led switch that purposely stays on all the time. I figured people new to the boat, Ti and Thien in particular, would appreciate some help in finding lights and things.
Over the next days, I am reorganizing my tools once again, as well as much used electrical parts.
Here is the latest snapshot of the weather patterns and winds over the North Pacific. First picture is today, the second picture is June 11th. No point in looking at anything else.
In the meantime, here is an interesting link to the video Ti made, Ti Cooks Pig Ears. with English subtitles. Yes, another Vietnamese delicacy. Who knew they did more than Bahn Mi sandwiches and Pho !!
To refresh your memory, here is the screenshot I made on May 20th and posted in my Weather Planning post yesterday. It was pretty optimistic and in fact, if it would come to pass, it would be very good weather to get underway.
Here is the map for the same period, valid 0800 on 26 May, made today, the 23rd.
You can still see that little blue area of light winds, but now it’s over northern California about 50 miles inland.
Dauntless can’t go that I-5 route.
I want to point out that the other factor I take into consideration, in continuity. In weather forecasts, a critical component of any forecast, whether produced my machine (numerical forecast models) or a weather forecaster.
During my forecasting days, when I was actually getting paid to make weather forecasts of some type or another, there were times, I’d look at the current weather and forecasts that were put out by the person I relieved and not believe a word.
But the first thing a good forecaster takes to heart is continuity. My initial read may end up being correct, but it’s not helpful to the customer if the forecast changes significantly every shift change. This was particularly important during my days with the Alaska Fire Service. We were making 24 hour and 5 and 10-day forecasts.
They used the 10-day forecast to reposition aircraft and equipment and at a certain point in the summer, to send that equipment to the Lower 48 to support wildfire suppression in the west, once it looked like Alaska was done for the season.
It was critical that we (the two of us forecasters) stayed to the same tune and as forecasts changed, changed them in a gradual way to make sure the change was real and not an anomaly that existed in the numbers of the computer and nowhere else.
So, again, when I see a favorable pattern like I saw on the 20th for the 26th, I won’t spend much time on it, yet, because I want to see that it stays put over the next coming forecast runs. In this case you can see it pretty much disappears.
The last year of moving up the west coast of North America has been difficult enough. I’m not leaving Vallejo until I see that the big Pacific High moves off or a large low manages to displace it.
So, even though I will make a plan based on the forecast, to prepare myself and the boat to be ready to go, I’m actually not leaving until the winds actually change.
When I see the reality of the change, then I’ll look closely at the forecast to decide how long it will last. But until then, I’m just a bystander.
I don’t leave port based on a forecast. Or put another way, when I do leave port, I assume the conditions I have will be as good as it gets.
I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain my weather planning or better said, planning on the weather.
The fist picture on the left shows my main area of interest at the white dot, just south of Cape Mendocino. This is where the winds are the strongest. It’s a two day (46 hr) cruise to Crescent City, just north of that spot.
The sequnece from the 25th to the 28th seems to show improving condidions along the sure, with the strong Northerly winds moving off shore.
It could well happen. But what I focus on is the large overall pattern.
So while it is showing a small area of light winds along the coast, that if it came to pass as depicted, it would be ok, even good to leave San Francisco and head north, the problem is the area of favorable winds is very small.
I’ve always said that forecasts are more often correct, but id they are wrong, it’s usually an issue of location or time, but not the event. For example, a cold front with showers and thunderstorms is forecast to move thru your area in 12 houris time. In reality, it could be 10 hours, or 8 hours, even 6.but it’s happened.
Where it happened is another story, That’s what I mean my location. Forecasting snow anywhere along the east coast is always problematic. A lot of things ahve to fall in place for the forecast to be spot on at a given location or time. The snow-rain line could end up being 10 miles west of New York City. After the news media has panicked everyone for days, it looks\ like a big bust, but in reality, looking at the large scale picture, 90% of the areas that were forecast to get snow got it, same for rain, it was only that little band that was incorrect.
And that’s what I’m thinking of as I look at these three days of forecasts. The overall pattern really doesn’t change much. This little narrow area of light winds could easily end up being 20 miles to the east leaving me frighting winds and waves.
Most importantly, all the pictures I have posted here are the only things I have looked at to make this decision. This gives me an overview. Until the overview looks more than doable, there is not point in in spending time looking elsewhere, at other products or other models.
Om addition, if you find yourself trying to find the right model to five you the forecast you want, you are only cruising for a bruising.
Two days ago, here are the Windycom woeather maps I looked at to tmake my decision if 23 could leave on the 25th:
It’s 7 days to Washington’s Neah Bay. The first few are the most critical, since off the Oregon coast, the winds are more from the southwest in general. So, the California portion is the most difficult.
I’ll wait until the entire high pressure system moves east. I’d rather have 30 knots from the SW than 10 knots from the north.