Yeah... the forecasters aren't always right :) - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 11-08-2008
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Yeah... the forecasters aren't always right :)

We left Branford yesterday at 3pm. Based on the forecasts being a bit wishy-washy (one minute they forecast 2-4ft waves, then 3-5, then back to 2-4, winds 10-15, then 15-20, then gusts to 25, etc.) we decided to take the inside route. I'm seriously glad we did! We grabbed a random mooring off of City Island at around 11:30 last night, and left for Hell Gate at 5:45 this morning. We cruised through hell gate with over a 5kt current with us (we reached 12kts over ground). We were flying! We reached New York Harbor with a fog enveloping us - no more than a quarter mile of visibility, if that. Once we reached Sandy Hook we found that the forecasters had the wave height wrong. Winds were 15-20 with gusts, but the seas were not 3-5. I know seas always look bigger when you are on your boat, but there is no way they were 3-5. Buoy reports show them at 5, but there were times when I was standing on the deck and I lost boats ahead of us. That would put waveheights above 8ft with a VERY short period. I wish I had some video. Anyway, due to the difficult conditions and that one of our crew was violently seasick, we decided to stop at Manasquan. We're going to continue our trek tomorrow morning, and I'll let you know how far we get.
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  #2  
Old 11-08-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by labatt View Post
We left Branford yesterday at 3pm. Based on the forecasts being a bit wishy-washy (one minute they forecast 2-4ft waves, then 3-5, then back to 2-4, winds 10-15, then 15-20, then gusts to 25, etc.) we decided to take the inside route. I'm seriously glad we did! We grabbed a random mooring off of City Island at around 11:30 last night, and left for Hell Gate at 5:45 this morning. We cruised through hell gate with over a 5kt current with us (we reached 12kts over ground). We were flying! We reached New York Harbor with a fog enveloping us - no more than a quarter mile of visibility, if that. Once we reached Sandy Hook we found that the forecasters had the wave height wrong. Winds were 15-20 with gusts, but the seas were not 3-5. I know seas always look bigger when you are on your boat, but there is no way they were 3-5. Buoy reports show them at 5, but there were times when I was standing on the deck and I lost boats ahead of us. That would put waveheights above 8ft with a VERY short period. I wish I had some video. Anyway, due to the difficult conditions and that one of our crew was violently seasick, we decided to stop at Manasquan. We're going to continue our trek tomorrow morning, and I'll let you know how far we get.
The thing to remember is the reported wave height (Seas) is an average of the highest 1/3 measured from crest to trough. You can expect to encounter waves double the reported sea heights regularly.

According to the NOAA explanation if seas are reported as 2-4 feet, 1 wave in 10 will be greater than 4 feet, 1 in 100 will be over 5 feet and 1 in a 1000 will be over 6 feet.

I looked into this recently after we did a crossing of the bay in seas reported as 2-4 feet on a day I swore we encountered several waves of 6-8 ft and darn few I'd say were less than 4 feet trough to crest.
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  #3  
Old 11-08-2008
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Smart move Labatt. Looks decent tomorrow but I would plan a stop in Cape May as Monday looks dicey for going up the Delaware. Of course you could try your hand at the casinos instead! Fair winds.
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Old 11-09-2008
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Did you check the marine weather fax charts at NOAA? The chart from today shows: http://weather.noaa.gov/pub/fax/PJAA99.TIF
1 meter waves up and down the east coast with a region of 3 meter waves beyond (significant wave height is shown as the average height of the highest 1/3 of waves). Reading between the lines you should expect most waves to be 3+ feet with some up to 9+ feet. That is what is out there now.
Lots of great forecast stuff from radiofax charts at NOAA here: Radiofax Charts - Boston
Unfortunately they are never really right or wrong, they are just forecasts.
Glad you made it as far as you did though. Why did you leave so late yesterday though? Granted, the flume ride down the East River was fun but you could probably have gone an hour or two earlier - not that you would have gotten that much farther as it turned out. Hope your crew regain their composure and you make more progress soon.
Winter in the North Atlantic (WNA) is the lowest Plimsole mark on any commercial ship. This is because the insurers will not insure a boat that is over loaded and the seas in the north Atlantic are the worst in winter from a shipping insurers standpoint (they keep records). There are 9 meter waves in the Atlantic just south of Greenland right now which are thankfully 8 times higher then what you should expect on your way to Atlantic City/Delaware River.
Rest up and set out again when there is a weather window.
Good luck on your way south.
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Old 11-09-2008
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Chris,
good move Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 11-09-2008
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The forecasters being wrong surprises you???

Good call on stopping...that kind of conditions can be really uncomfortable even in a boat as big as yours. Keep us posted.
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Old 11-09-2008
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Yeah... I wasn't suprised the forecast was wrong... sarcasm doesn't come out well on these pages. We left our sick crewmember behind in Manasquan. Right now we're about 5 miles off of Atlantic City, close hauled in 20kts of wind, doing between 5kts and 7.2kts depending on waves. Waves are far lower. I was going to say that some of the waves yesterday were over 10 feet, but people always accuse others of exaggerating here. The freak waves were over 10 feet yesterday, with the majority being 4-7. Today, the wave action is much better, plus we're SAILING. I'm on a delivery trip and SAILING! Amazing! We're looking at rounding Cape May midnightish and then heading up the Delaware overnight, conditions and fatigue depending. It's an awesome sail today, but we're on the traveler and mainsheet playing the gusts. Incredible.

Btw, blog is now at blog.svpelican.com. That's the one we'll be using for our trip. More info on yesterday there.
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Old 11-09-2008
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Bravo... Look forward to hearing more... sailing beats motoring...doesn't it
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Nice blog Chris, best of luck. Wish I were down there to come out from Longport and meet you.
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Old 11-09-2008
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Thanks for posting your experiences!
Is the weather often very nice for sailing in the NE? I've never been there, but the conditions you describe sound like what we have here 1/2 of the year or more. Less than ideal to be sure.
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