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post #1 of Old 11-08-2011 Thread Starter
SV Skalliwag #141
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Severe weather

I hope this is not a violation of some propriety rule but I wanted to share this.
A 48 ft Hinckley Yawl that was going from Newport to St Martin is caught in the grip of now Sean. Below is the latest weather router report. The boat has seen up to 60 kts, been knocked down 3 times and blew out its main. Motor sailing under staysil and jigger. Lost most electronics. Crew of 3, I had to bail out because of non stop work following the Va quake at the nuke plant I work at. Crew Completely exhausted.
Several boats from the NARC are also caught in the gale unable to make Bermuda due to the 30 plus kt winds from the east.
SV Seaya is also out there with no weather info trying to get back to the states, know this by his SPOT updates, getting ready to cross the stream, latest position seaya
sailing due west.

Weather router report:

SItuation has not changed very much since yesterday. System now designated as subtropical storm Sean, but this does not change the weather outlook we have talked about.

As for options to consider, I have the following comments:

1. US option should be Beaufort, NC, not Beaufort, SC. It is much closer, and at this point, this is very important. Route does need to cross Gulf Stream in adverse conditions, however.

2. I am not comfortable at this time with heading toward the Bahamas since this would take the vessel into higher sea states farther to the south, and it would be a long passage. In addition, the route potentially takes the yacht closer to Sean.

3. Newport does not seem to be a viable option. Longer distance and potentially longer trek through the Gulf stream, and Sean will eventually head north and could come closer to them on this route. Also by the time they are approaching Newport (late in week) a strong cold front will be moving off the east coast of the U.S. with strong (perhaps gale N to NW winds behind it. They have already shown that heading into the wind at any angle is very difficult due to the compromised situation of the yacht.

4. Bermuda is still viable, but due to their inability to make any easting over the past couple of days, it will be a long slog with many tacks necessary, and thus will take 3-4 days. Wind direction will improve beginning tomorrow night, but if they can't get east, they will be in a more vulnerable position when Sean comes by later Thursday, although the system will probably be weakening by then.

So for me, it boils down to Bermuda or Beaufort.

Pros for Beaufort:

1. Downwind sailing, thus shorter passage.
2. Stays away from Sean
3. Sea state generally no worse than they have now (except below)

Cons for Beaufort

1. Must cross Gulf Stream with NNE winds likely 25 knots, seas likely to be rough

Pros for Bermuda:

1. Avoids most adverse current
2. Stays north of higher sea states to the south
3. Wind direction will begin to improve after tomorrow.

Cons for Bermuda

1. Upwind sailing for at least two more days
2. Longer passage likely (3-4 days) - fatigue factor
3. Possible closer interaction with Sean

Don't have their position this morning yet, but if they are still west of 70W this morning, and appear to be unable to make any significant easting, then I am inclined to suggest they try Beaufort. Waypoint to head for would be 34.5N/72.0W. This would carry them through the more favorable portion of the cold eddy on Jenifer's chart. From there direct to Beaufort. If they can make 150 miles per day, they can be there in two days. Gulf Stream is a significant concern, but if they get in trouble there, they are much closer to S&R resources.
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