Monday, September 17, 2012

A Coming Storm

The forecast is for high winds and heavy rain for Tuesday but most of the damage will be in the afternoon. After the storm's passage, there will be a window for a relatively calm trip down the Jersey coast. One may ask, how did you come to that conclusion? So here are the steps:

First here is a weather prediction map showing what's expected on Tuesday on a storm moving up the coast. We plan on leaving early Tuesday morning to reach Haverstraw before the worse of the storm hits us. However, you can't just anchor anywhere out in the bay and expect a protected anchorage. Behind Croton Point is no good since the wind is predicted to veer from south towards west and north west later in the day. Hook Mt is no good due to the initial south winds.

That leaves what we've dubbed, Haverstraw Cove. It's by the town of Haverstraw but the cove itself has no official name and it has no soundings marked on the NOAA chart. Regardless, the locals use it all the time and one taught me the entrance path. There's a brick wall underwater on the north side of the entrance that snags a few boats every summer and a sunken barge a little further in, also on the north side of the channel. I recorded my GPS points as I entered the cove and generated the chart you see above. Follow the chart and you'll be okay. We're going to anchor in the south part of the cove which is protected on all sides from waves and is protected from winds from the south and west, the major wind direction for the storm. The west shore is much higher than my mast, so it's a good spot.

One may ask, why are we leaving with the prediction of such bad weather? The answer to that lies in another chart showing the expected wave heights along the Jersey shore for 9/21 - 9/23 (the left scale is wave height in feet). We plan on making Atlantic City during 9/21 and Cape May by 9/22 and then up the Delaware Bay on 9/23. The chart shows a window for doing that before the weather deteriorates again - so we're in a race! Of course, if the weather predictions change, we'll keep an eye out on the charts and change our plans accordingly. Safety is the first priority.

With all that, we plan on leaving Tuesday morning as soon as our crew arrives so we can get securely anchored before the brunt of the storm arrives. When you're on a sailboat, you are one with the weather.