Incidentally, you mention the use of radar to assist such an entry in your other post above. In such conditions, with that sort of wave height, the degree of sea clutter would have likely rendered radar virtually useless… Furthermore, it is a fringing reef, not the cays themselves that border the North Bar Channel, that define the width of that cut… And that, of course, is the primary reason why it is so risky to navigate so many parts of the Bahamas at night or in poor light, where eyeball navigation and the ability to read the water - and what is BENEATH the surface - is the surest way to go…
One thing I’ve wondered about this incident right from the start, has anyone ever seen a photo of RULE 62 from the start of the Rally? I’d be very curious to know whether she might have been equipped with a full-cockpit enclosure?
Re radar....I agree big swell degrades it's performance, but intermittent returns will give you some indication of where you are relative to the land, and comparing that with a chart can help you stay in a channel.
Re channel size.... I agree you cant sail over reefs, so I measured the width between the (5m?) contour lines.
Re bimini / dodger.... I think it is a safe bet that Rule 62 had a dodger or bimini of some sort, and I think you're very correct in the assessment that these plastic bubbles can insulate you from the real conditions (in addition to providing a lot of extra windage). We have a hard dodger (open at the aft end). Sitting inside, under cover, before the wheel, warm and dry is a very diffferent experience to standing at the wheel with the wind in your face. That's why we love the hard dodger! But it's also why I ask watch standers to stick their heads outside every few minutes, so they can get a sense of what's happening in the real world.
Jon, you're a man of few posts, but I've found your contributions here to be insightful -- especially, the one a few pages back about modern electronics extending sailors' comfort zones thus permitting them to sail well beyond their capabilities. In the heat of this discussion perhaps we have not yet extended you a "Welcome" aboard to SailNet!