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Old 03-09-2010
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Wind Barbs and the Gulf

Ive been reading some of the threads about crossing the gulf because i live in Texas and want to do that someday. I have not had any chart training as of yet accept as a private pilot (but i will before any heavy sailing). The wind barbs are new to me, so i just learned how those work by googling them, but here's my question.
Several of the old salts say to sail south from Houston to the Yukatan or Cancun, then turn north east toward the Keys or USVI (man, Cuba is in the way). This is for favorable winds and to avoid abandoned oil platforms...my God, i had no idea. That should be illegal, but that's another thread. It looks though, like the weather patters show that you would be sailing right into the teeth of the wind if you went south. This is where the winds come off the Atlantic in the usual hurricane jet stream coming from Africa.
Am I missing something?
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It would be good for you to become acquainted with the Pilot Charts, which you can download for free at NGA: NGA Publications List - A.P.C. for the Gulf. Note that they use a slightly different wind arrow from the one you just learned about. In any case, they'll show that the winds are usually out of the East in the Yucatan Channel
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Old 03-09-2010
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Thanks Larry, my question revolves around the fact that if I sail south from houston, I am sailing into the wind.

Am I missing something?
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Old 03-09-2010
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Here's an account of one trip: Cruising Texas to Florida
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Old 03-11-2010
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Quote:
The wind barbs are new to me, so i just learned how those work by googling them....
Pilot Charts include "Wind Roses" at the center of each 5º square with arrows flying toward the center of the Rose. The number of "Feathers" or "Barbs" on each arrow indicate the force of the wind on the Beaufort Scale--Four Feathers (or Barbs) equalling Force 4 Winds--11-17 knts. The length of the arrows indicated the percentage of time the winds are from each direction unless the arrow would be undully long in which case the percentage is interlineated in quotes over the arrow. The number in the center of the Rose is the percentage of Calms.

While in the Gulf of Mexico there is a preponderance of winds from the southeast and south during the Spring and early Summer, the winds on any given day are dependant upon the then prevailing weather conditions. As Lows march across Texas and the northern Gulf, the wind within the Gulf will swing from south to southwest to west to northwest over everal days. One could easily depart on a southeasterly heading on the back of a low and make fairly easy southing before the next low comes through. One problem, however, is that one will be sailing into the prevailing current of the Gulf Stream which will slow you down and with westerlys and north westerlys give you fairly big seas, which will further slow you. On the other hand, however, you're only looking at about 850 miles before you can tuck into the counter current behind or on the north side of the Yucatan, which any decent boat should be able to do in 5-6 daze, which is about the interval between lows. (For 4-5 day wind predictions check out either SailFlow.com or PassageWeather.com).

If the boat is relatively slower, another alternative is to make your easting along the Gulf coast to Mississippi or the Panhandle and then sail southwest on a close reach with the prevailing winds and a push from the stream.

FWIW...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svHyLyte View Post
Pilot Charts include "Wind Roses" at the center of each 5º square with arrows flying toward the center of the Rose. The number of "Feathers" or "Barbs" on each arrow indicate the force of the wind on the Beaufort Scale--Four Feathers (or Barbs) equalling Force 4 Winds--11-17 knts. The length of the arrows indicated the percentage of time the winds are from each direction unless the arrow would be undully long in which case the percentage is interlineated in quotes over the arrow. The number in the center of the Rose is the percentage of Calms.

While in the Gulf of Mexico there is a preponderance of winds from the southeast and south during the Spring and early Summer, the winds on any given day are dependant upon the then prevailing weather conditions. As Lows march across Texas and the northern Gulf, the wind within the Gulf will swing from south to southwest to west to northwest over everal days. One could easily depart on a southeasterly heading on the back of a low and make fairly easy southing before the next low comes through. One problem, however, is that one will be sailing into the prevailing current of the Gulf Stream which will slow you down and with westerlys and north westerlys give you fairly big seas, which will further slow you. On the other hand, however, you're only looking at about 850 miles before you can tuck into the counter current behind or on the north side of the Yucatan, which any decent boat should be able to do in 5-6 daze, which is about the interval between lows. (For 4-5 day wind predictions check out either SailFlow.com or PassageWeather.com).

If the boat is relatively slower, another alternative is to make your easting along the Gulf coast to Mississippi or the Panhandle and then sail southwest on a close reach with the prevailing winds and a push from the stream.

FWIW...
Very good info. THank you
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