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Old 08-26-2012
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wave height history in the gulf stream

I would like to cross the Gulf Stream in my Mac 22 this coming February. I am a little concerned about getting good weather windows both ways. The daily wave height history for the last few years would be helpful. Is there a website for this?
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Old 08-26-2012
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Re: wave height history in the gulf stream

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Originally Posted by millyman01 View Post
I would like to cross the Gulf Stream in my Mac 22 this coming February. I am a little concerned
I sincerely hope that you take this in the spirit as offered, but I think that you certainly should be very concerned, and at the least go with a well experienced crewed buddy boat of more substantial build.
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Old 08-26-2012
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Re: wave height history in the gulf stream

NGA Pilot Charts, URLs for direct downloads
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Old 08-26-2012
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Re: wave height history in the gulf stream

Are you going to Bermuda, Bimini or Buenos Aires? Where are you putting in - Miami? Tampa? Fort Lauderdale? Charleston? Newport News? Milwaukee? I have crossed the Gulf Stream with gentle rollers not even showing a whitecap. Another time, we had three waterspouts in sight at once. Wave height is not the only issue. Things can change in two hours from nice to nasty. The last time we crossed, in a heavy 40' Swan, three other boats ended up having injured crew helicoptered back to Bermuda. This AFTER a personalized weather presentation by Bermuda National Weather to the skippers & crew before we left. Going out in Lake Michigan thundersqualls would be good practice for the Gulf Stream, though the last one I was in, up at the North end, the waves didn't amount to much. The 50 knots of wind blew the tops off them before they could build. I'm taking ski goggles or a snorkel facemask for next time, so as to be able to see.
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Old 08-26-2012
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Re: wave height history in the gulf stream

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Originally Posted by millyman01 View Post
I would like to cross the Gulf Stream in my Mac 22 this coming February. I am a little concerned about getting good weather windows both ways. The daily wave height history for the last few years would be helpful. Is there a website for this?
I'm assuming you're thinking of crossing the Florida Strait to the Bahamas, correct?

I can't imagine how a wave height history would be of any value in choosing a window, the local forecast will determine whether it's a go, or not...

the National Data Buoy Center is a good source of historical information, but unfortunately there are no reporting stations in the Stream in that area... So, ship reports and other anecdotal information is all one has to go by, and they can be highly unreliable - and I'm not aware of any place that such reports are collated, anyway...

For example, there was a thread here a few months ago about crossing the Stream on an ASA boat, and a couple of posters claimed to have made the crossing themselves in 22' seas...

Being as the forecast for the Straits of Florida today, with Isaac passing thru those waters and winds of 65 knots forecast, called for a maximum of seas in the 18' range, I tend to view such "observations" with just a tad of skepticism... (grin)

In February, simply monitor the current forecasts, and be prepared for the possibility of waiting for a LONG time to make such a crossing in your boat... This past winter, for example, with a strong and sustained easterly flow persisted for a week or two at a time, you likely would have either sat in Miami Beach for a couple of weeks, or perhaps abandoned your plan, and headed down thru the Keys, instead...
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Old 08-26-2012
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Re: wave height history in the gulf stream

Focus more on the period than hieght
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Old 08-27-2012
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Re: wave height history in the gulf stream

The period in the gulf stream is always short less than 3 secs down here in Florida. The Gulf Stream does lay flat about once a month maybe twice during the winter months. So one can take any boat across. But like others have said, you need to wait a long time for a good weather window. Most of the time the wave height is in the 2-3 foot range during most of the month. With the short interval though it is a rough ride going to the Bahamas and not so bad with an east wind coming back to the US. One last thing to remember is the wave height is an average given by NOAA down here.
Most of the time, 95%, it is a motor sail across to the Bahamas. You will need to have enough fuel to motor about 12 hours in your boat. Not so sure your tanks will have that kind of capacity so you will have to find alternative methods to carry additional fuel.
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Old 08-27-2012
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Re: wave height history in the gulf stream

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The period in the gulf stream is always short less than 3 secs down here in Florida.
Really? That is quite the chop. Does it get longer if it is not counter to the current?
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Re: wave height history in the gulf stream

I suppose that the wave height history could be used to ask yourself whether this is a passage you want to make at all. However, as said above, it won't help choosing your window.
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Old 08-27-2012
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Re: wave height history in the gulf stream

I'm assuming Miami to Bimini is the goal.
I tried to cross from Miami to Bimini in my '81 Hunter 30 in the winter once, it was so choppy my passenger got deathly sea-sick and we had to turn around after only 10 miles or so. The winter wind typically blows 15 to 18 knots counter to the 3 - 3 1/2 knot current. The only time it blows with or beam-to the current is during a cold front and then the wind speed can easily be double. The crossing between Miami and Bimini is the narrowest part of the Florida Straights.... that's good because it is a short distance (47 miles)to travel...... that's bad because the Gulf Stream is funneled from 90 miles to 47 miles wide and kicks up the current there.
The comment about the fuel requirement is to be heeded..... you will, at best, be able to motor sail since the prevailing wind and the destination are the same direction.
The best time to cross, especialy in a small boat is in the summer when there will be periods of light wind and resulting flat sea conditions.
Allow plenty of time to catch a weather window, don't try the trip on a 2 week vacation.
Don't let the "Old Salts" talk you out of the trip, just go into it with both eyes open. Pick your weather. Travel with another boat
The Bahamas are a great adventure. Good luck.
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