Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hurricanes and Useful Links

Same old, same old. Jose continues to wear out its invitation
It looks like we're not moving until nearly the first of October. Our no-fly date is 10/1, after that we'll hang it up for the season if there's no opening south. We are hopeful that the hurricanes will pass by without yet another one to take their place.
And here comes Maria!

Thurday still looks like a small opening for a fast boat but not for Fleetwing. You would really want to get all the way down the coast and up the Delaware Bay to be safe. We're passing by that opportunity.
Thursday kind of looks okay still but only for a fast boat

Typical weather buoy info
Meanwhile, there are other things to get ready. I've been working on useful internet links while going south. When traveling down the ICW, it's handy to have internet links to certain, key information. For example, You're in a secure harbor and the wind is mild at 5 to 10 kts but the forecast out in the Chesapeake is for 20 to 30 kt winds! You may think that the weatherman was being overly cautious and venture out anyway. However, the closer you get to the Chesapeake from your anchorage (several miles back), you notice the wind starting to pick up. Preparing to make the turn to head down the bay, you clock the wind at 25 kts and the waves at 3 to 4 ft! This was what the weatherman predicted but not what was expected based on conditions in an anchorage 5 miles back. This exact scenario happened to Ann and me one year while waiting for a break in the weather. Furthermore, we weren't the only ones. At least five other boats did the exact same thing and returned to the anchorage to await a better day. We should have accessed a weather buoy out in the bay and found the true wind speed but it wasn't convenient and we didn't think we had to at the time. Since then I compiled a list of weather buoys all along the route we take from New York to Key West and have them as Bookmarks in Google Chrome for quick and easy access. This afternoon, I also listed them as active links in the tips section of this blog at left, "Links: Weather, Surveys, Buoys, Tides." They are listed in order from north to south so you can find the one you want quickly. Having the list handy has saved me a few headaches over the years.

Notice the higher than predicted tide, useful to know
Another useful series of links are also given for tide stations that show actual water depth vs predicted water depth. Knowledge of that delta is absolutely essential for getting under the 55 ft (at high tide, supposedly) in the Cape May canal. It's also useful to know when you're navigating a shallow passage. Just look at the nearest actual vs predicted tide station and you can get a feel for how much more or less water you can expect.

Only 3 ft in the channel! There's a way around but you've got to know the waypoints
(they are in the GPX Routes section) 

The Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) publishes depth surveys of the ICW from Norfolk to Port Royal in South Carolina. Perhaps, someday they will extend the surveys farther south. They cover some extremely interesting stretches of the ICW that tend to shoal year after year. All of the surveys are publicly available but finding the ones of interest is not always easy. I put a list together of all the areas that show shoaling and also the inlets that tend to shoal (but perhaps not yet but you know they will) and gave those links too. There are tons of surveys and they are not easy to plow through to find ones of interest but I've already done that and you'll see a subset of just those showing shoaling now plus the inlets, all with direct links. Clicking down into a nest of links is not required. It may be very helpful to look at the links that you may pass through on a given day to see if there are any updates. It could save your bacon!

I've also included the key weather sites I access multiple times a day for hurricane information and for when I'm making a passage outside or down the Chesapeake. At least it's the ones I've found useful.


Cheryl said...

You do such a wonderful job sharing info. We read your blog faithfully every day and have learned so much. AC comments are priceless! Some day will see you to thank you in person. Maybe in Key West 2018 if it's back together. Thanks again.

Lauryl Anne said...

Echo Cheryl's comments above. We are faithful followers and greatly appreciate the wealth of information you share with us. It is invaluable. We too are still up north in RI waiting for a window to head south. Not this week! Thanks again. Hope our paths cross on the way south.

David and Tricia
MV Lauryl Anne

Unknown said...

Obsession (Catalina 42) is anxiously awaiting a window in Newport too. Bob, you have become our mentor-followed you for the oast 2 years. Your blog is so informative.

Steadfast Sailing Travels said...

I am hoping for a window for Fleetwing to head safely south. However, if it is not possible we will swing by on the way from Maine. I am sure we can make you comfortable...will you navigate for food ;-) I am weary watching the weather channel!
S/V Steadfast

Bob423 said...

Cheryl, I just heard that Schooner Wharf reopened yesterday! That's about 200 ft from my dock at E14. I haven't heard anything about the marina reopening yet. They are still only letting residents into Key West. At least the city has water and electricity now. From the aerial photos I saw, Key West Bight, where my dock is located, was undamaged.

Lauryl, when you're in the neighboorhood, give us a shout. You can always track us on Spot, the location link is in the left column.

Janice, all of the information I share is what I've put together over the years for my own use in navigating the ICW. So I figure, why not post the information for others? It could save time and perhaps a grounding or two.

Jim, I could stand by the ICW and hold a sign, "Will navigate for food." That's a new one. As I said in my post, I'm tired of being a weatherman but one does what one has too. It's looking like the earliest date for going down the NJ coast is around 9/27 or 9/28 provided both Jose and Maria stay on schedule (Ha).

Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog for a few years now and once shared the Coast Guard anchorage in Cape May with you. Can you explain why Oct 1sr is your "no fly" date?

Bob423 said...

Anonymous, we like to spend the holidays, starting with Thanksgiving, with our kids. Our practice has been to go part way down the ICW, usually Titusville, and then leave the boat and drive back north. After Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day, we would then drive back to our boat and continue our trip south to Key West. So our requirement is to get far enough south for a dock that is close enough to Key West to reach it by February. We think we can find that balance if we leave 10/1 or perhaps even by 10/4 but at some point it becomes undoable. The undoable date is our "No-Fly Date." It's hovering around the beginning of October.