Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Exumas Plan

The Plan to Explore the Exumas, Bahamas
We have reached our planned time frame where we will be leaving the South Florida Coast behind and sailing over into the Exumas for our first discover trip of the area. Last year we spent nearly two months exploring and learning the Abacos, and this year we plan to spend a month or more exploring the Exumas. This area is south of the Abacos and after exploring there we will sail back north into the Abacos where we will enjoy a return visit.

Our good friend Jeff and great crew wanted to jump onboard for a ride out to Blue Water and to George Town where he has rented a home for the third week of February. If all goes well, we should be able to sail him there in time to connect with his wife Sharon. If the weather does not cooperate then there are mail boats and small plane to fly Jeff to George Town. You know the worst thing about cruising is HAVING A SCHEDULE....but we will do our best to discover the Exumas and show Jeff a great cruising time.

This is what a PERFECT weather window looks like!
South winds 10 knots, Gulf stream calm
Our plan is to depart on Friday in the next weather window that is openning, and motor run directly from Miami to Morgan's Bluff on Andros Island. There we will check into customs and enter the Bahamas. This is a 20 hour motor run and we will cross the Bahama Banks at night and pass through the North West Channel around 3 am. From there we will turn south for 20 miles more arriving Morgan's Bluff around 0730. We called customs and they will be open and can check us in on Saturday am. After that we will up anchor and take off right away for the west end of New Providence Island dropping the anchor at Lyford Cay. We will be racing an arriving cold front with 20 knot NE winds. Anchored there, the front should arrive with building North East Winds all night long. Sunday, we will sail south east on this front to Highbourne Cay or beyond. Once here, we will be in the Exumas Chain and this will provide good protection from the normal trade winds that blow 15-20 from the east 24/7.

This is the frontal winds, Northeast and 15-20
This would NOT be fun
The challenge of this passage is to wait for the perfect weather window which is when a frontal systems approaches and pulls the east trade winds to the south. These south winds blow down stream over the northward flowing Gulf Stream (i.e. Florida Current) and the waves calm down to 2-3 feet. Wind blowing with current, no problem. Wind blowing against current BIG PROBLEM, big waves.

In preparation, you get your boat all ready, fuel up, load up the provisions/food (for months) and you wait in Miami for this perfect weather window. When it happens, it will usually only last 1-2 days, maybe 3 and then the front arrives and it blows hard from the North then North East, then it finally goes back to East trade winds. At that point you better be across the stream or be in a safe anchorage or a marina. You can get stuck for days, even weeks due to high winds, and you will just have to wait for the next weather window to move on. Welcome to Bahamas sailing and trade wind sailing with cold fronts from Nor'easter that effect our weather here! Once thing is for sure, you really learn to live by the weather.

So that is our plan. We are ready, we are loaded, We will shut down our Verizon Phones as we exit to sea. Our communications will be down to a SPOT transmitter and our SSB radio. We will be off the grid until we find free and open WiFi somewhere in the Exumas. We Plan to be in the Bahamas until the end of April. Let the explorations and discovery begin....

Here is our Weather data as of Wed PM Feb 6, 2013....we will be departing Feb 8 at Daybreak.
NOTE: Subtract 5 hrs from the time of UTC to get our time here in Florida.
Wed, what we are in right now, this is 5-10 knots from the east
Here you see 10 knots north east


This is typical. East winds blowing directly at you. You need to wait
East winds building....wait
Here we go, the wind is pulling to the south
Looking good, this is 10 knots south east....good window
This is 6 AM Thurs
WOW....looks perfect, 10 knots south east
Thur 15-5=10 am Thur
Still looks good, that is south east winds and still calm....
18 UTC - 5 = 1300 or 1pm Thur afternoon
WOW....even better! SOUTH WIND, this is a GO
Fri 00 UTC - 5 = 7 pm Thur night
Looking good, we are a GO
Really looks good, Friday 06 UTC
Here we go....DEPART MIAMI
Fri 12 UTC - 5 = 7am departure time
(NOTE: See the cold front up north? LOOK OUT!)
We will be at sea between Miami and Bimini
Now we will be on the Bahamas Banks for an all night run
Looks calm, and winds behind us
Sat 00 UTC - 5 = 7pm Fri night
COLD FRONT COMING....we will be pulling into ANDROS
Morgan;s Bluff is the North West Corner this is below the front
Sat 12 UTC - 5 = 7 AM
We will sail this cold front to the East
Andros to New Providence and anchor
Sunday AM, we will depart New Provenience and Sail to the Exumas
This will be our winds as we try to sail South East to Highbourne Key
This looks like a dream sail, winds on the port beam!
My Monday, we will be in the Exumas and this is typical EAST Tradewinds
We will be behind the Exuma Islands and should be protected
This will be TOUGH to move SOUTH into this wind
Tue 18 UTC - 5 is 1 pm Tue afternoon
OH NO....here we go again...another cold front approaching
The winds have moved to the south. We will need protection
Look up NORTH, it is blowing 25-30 knots!
Lucky for us, we will be south of this
There is your Bahama Weather lesson for a crossing to the Exumas. You need to time the fronts, study the patterns, listen to Chris Parker, our weather router, and make your best judgement as when to go. We hope we chose right! If we did, it should be a smooth ride and a great sail, If not, it will be a bashing.....

  • www.PasssageWeather.com ( If you have internet, these are the files above)
  • www.MWXC.com (Chris Parker)




4 comments:

Roger Family Sailing Adventures said...

Good luck on your crossing. Sure don't like the look of those last two Passageweather forecasts. Let's hope it dissipates or that you are safely tucked away!

Gus Wright said...

Nice update, and good luck on your crossing.

Joe and Michele said...

Best of. Luck to both of you. We'll be listening for your check ins on SSB. Hopefully, we'll see you over there! We're having the new windlass installed next week! Your suggestion...Lofrans Sea Tigres. Have a safe crossing!
Michele and Joe
S/V Simple Life

Judith said...

Excellent weather lesson for crossing to the Bahamas