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Old 06-21-2014, 08:16 AM   #1
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A member of another forum sent me a list of considerations to ponder before leaving the dock. Among them were sea and weather conditions. We'll start moving our DF 44 north next week via in the ICW. Just wondered what weather thresholds the rest of you use when starting out -- especially in areas where afternoon thunderstorms are a near daily occurrence.
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Old 06-21-2014, 08:54 AM   #2
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Thats a tough question.
Advice will vary considerably depending on a person's experience, how the boat is equipped, (stabilizers, radar), how susceptible to sea sickness you and your crew are, physical fitness of you and your crew, boat reliability, accuracy of weather forecasts, etc

Usually the limiting factor is how comfortable (physically & mentally), you are in that type on weather & seas.

Personally - my limiting factor is docking at the end of the day with a single screw and no thrusters. Depending on direction, anything above a 25 knot wind makes it very challenging for me to get back to my berth without knocking around a few neighbours.

That means I'm not going anywhere this week.

Others with twins, and thrusters may have the same limit, but for different reasons. They may be better at docking, but are uncomfortable in a swell of any size.

I'd suggest to take small steps until you find you own limit. We all have one, and should know where it is.
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Old 06-21-2014, 09:02 AM   #3
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Thats a tough question.
Advice will vary considerably depending on a person's experience, how the boat is equipped, (stabilizers, radar), how susceptible to sea sickness you and your crew are, physical fitness of you and your crew, boat reliability, accuracy of weather forecasts, etc.

I'd suggest to take small steps until you find you own limit. We all have one, and should know where it is.
Thanks, AusCan. My question is broader than intended. I'm mostly concerned about how thunderstorms in the forecast play into boaters' decisions to travel. If there's a 30% chance do you go; if it's 50% do you stay put? Thanks!
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Old 06-21-2014, 09:44 AM   #4
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Quote:
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A member of another forum sent me a list of considerations to ponder before leaving the dock. Among them were sea and weather conditions. We'll start moving our DF 44 north next week via in the ICW. Just wondered what weather thresholds the rest of you use when starting out -- especially in areas where afternoon thunderstorms are a near daily occurrence.
The only time I worry about weather is if I am going outside. On the icw, the weather doesn't hold me up. Sail on!
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Old 06-21-2014, 09:57 AM   #5
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The only time I worry about weather is if I am going outside. On the icw, the weather doesn't hold me up. Sail on!
Ian, I agree with the above. This time of year there will most all times be thunderstorms in the forecast in the southeast. In spite of avoidance tactics, you will most likely get caught in one or more. They can get hairy for a little while, but usually cause little damage. Lightning is the more dangerous problem. There's not much you can do to avoid that.
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Old 06-21-2014, 10:02 AM   #6
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During storms, places on the ICW are wide enough for wind and waves to produce a pretty good chop, and in places where the channel is narrow, you'd have to stay centered as best you can. If the weather really is bad, there won't be much traffic, so just make sure your ground tackle is ready for emergencies. For me, I'd cruise from daylight to 2 or so in the afternoon, then listen to the forecast and watch my plotter closely for my anchorage opportunities.
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Old 06-21-2014, 10:02 AM   #7
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If I have a stretch of open water with more than 3 miles of fetch and it's more than an hour or so to cross...AND the winds are forecast above 20 (even gusts)...then I may sit it out. Not for safety reasons...more comfort for the crew.

Some of the sounds in Georgia open up quite a bit and have quite a bit of exposure to the ocean...others like Charleston Harbor, the Sounds in North Carolina....etc. can just have enough open water to make an hour or so ride pretty unpleasant but usually not dangerous.

Thunderstorm warnings are so generic...I take a good look at the RADAR before leaving and have a pretty good idea what the day will bring and then monitor them on our cellular hotspot.
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Old 06-21-2014, 10:21 AM   #8
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Thanks, guys. Pretty much common sense, as I guessed. It is actually my wife, who won't be accompanying my son and I on this trip due to recent ACL surgery, who's a little concerned. Hearing from more experienced cruisers will reassure her.

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Lightning is the more dangerous problem. There's not much you can do to avoid that.
Right you are, Don. At least we won't be under a 45-foot mast like we were with our sailboat. Although maybe I should find one to raft up with and take advantage of their "cone of protection."
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Old 06-21-2014, 10:43 AM   #9
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One thing I learned to watch is the forecasted wave height and the distance between crests.

When the wave height equals the distance between crests, that's what's called a "box". For example 5-6' waves on 6' crest to crest distance would be very uncomfortable. 5'-6' waves on a 15'-18' distance between crests would not.

Also, don't forget that the swell height PLUS the chop height will tell you what it's going to be like. A 6' swell with no chop is do-able. A 6' swell with a 2'-3' chop is not going to be fun.
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Old 06-21-2014, 10:57 AM   #10
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I'm following this thread. I will be moving a 1976 Gulfstar 36 MarkII from the Upper Chesapeake through the C&D down and around Cape May NJ to Little Egg. Since I have almost no experience with slow boats a displacement hull doing 6-7 knots I 'm interested in what's being said. My Mainship 40SB with new engines in 2007 that I just sold would do 30 plus knots and cruise safely at 24-26 knots I could outrun just about anything especially the tide the trip should be interesting. I'll have a week or two to skipper the boat before the trip. I'm hoping to shake out any bugs with the Gulfstar before the trip in the Middle River area.
Hopefully that will be enough time to make sure Murphy doesn't rear his head?
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Old 06-21-2014, 11:01 AM   #11
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GFC - I've heard of "period" in seconds between waves...but have never seen distance between crests posted in a weather forecast/buoy report...

I'm curious, where are they reported/forecast????

Periods of over 7 seconds many consider more swell than wave..but yes wind driven waves on top can make a sloppy ride. Waves/swells over 6 feet and you should be looking for longer periods as they grow larger.

Just a rough sketch...but this is what a 6 foot wave with 18 feet between crests would look like....
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Old 06-21-2014, 11:14 AM   #12
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When travelling the ICW this time of year, especially in FL, I plan on seeking my anchorage or dock by 1600. Always watch the weather and adjust your day plans accordingly. In other words, be flexible.

Generally speaking I try to get as much comfort as possible. As stated above, 20 knots is not a dangerous wind, but it can be uncomfortable.

I am not in a hurry and don't mind taking a little longer to reach my destination. No matter where you are, keep your eye peeled on the weather and adjust accordingly.

Have a great trip, the ICW is a lot of wonderful experiences and sights, enjoy.

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Old 06-21-2014, 11:47 AM   #13
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One other factor. Crew experience. Often the crew is at least as important if not more so in handling weather as the boat. And there is also a big difference between can handle and will be an enjoyable day. This is for pleasure after all.

There are very few days that moving on the ICW is a problem. As you cross inside a few inlets it can be rough occasionally. Actually visibility is probably more a consideration in rain than waves. We find rainy days good days sometimes to move but that's only when the visibility is good.
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Old 06-21-2014, 01:42 PM   #14
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Get a weather radar app for your smart phone like Weather Bug with Spark (lightning detection) or weather radar web pages for a laptop. You can see the storms accurately and in advance. Dodge them or find an anchorage before you can't. If you stay put for a NOAA forecast with TS in it, you will be lucky to travel 2 days a week in the summer.
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Old 06-21-2014, 03:05 PM   #15
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Hello angus99.

Of course there are options but you're a man with a mission: head north, SAFELY.

My favorite option during thunder-boomer season is to be secure before the rain starts. That might mean a very short day, or it might mean a two hour break for the weather to pass. Laziness too may mean I relax and enjoy life versus continuing on any one particular day.

It's not a race. Even if it were a race, I've already won: I have the boat.

When it comes time to move Seaweed I'm shooting for perfection. I want smooth or a light chop and nothing more. There's no reason for me to beat myself or the boat just to say "I made it here on schedule"

Choppy and rough forecasts mean I sit tight. Even a moderate chop isn't travelling weather for me. And fetch counts -- those long stretches can build fast, but if weather is good in the morning, there's nothing wrong with going for five, or 25 miles and pulling in for a break until the next day.

On the east coast doing the Intracoastal you will see lots of potential stopping points. Simply make sure you have one every few miles and even inclement weather won't matter. Skipper Bob's is a good guide, along with Kettlewell's newest ICW chartkit.

This presumes you wish to anchor! If you're marina hopping, you'll want Skipper Bob's and the Waterway Guide for marina information, along with ActiveCaptain.

There's no rule that says you cannot anchor for an hour and then keep going and even end up in a marina for the night. I've stopped just for lunch, then continued an hour later. If you're comfy with your anchor system, consider anchoring during the thunderstorm and then continuing on if you're up for it.

I'm sure you'll be fine. NOAA has been pretty accurate of late.
Good luck and have fun, safely!
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Old 06-21-2014, 03:23 PM   #16
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I'm sure you'll be fine. NOAA has been pretty accurate of late.
Good luck and have fun, safely!
When in doubt, don't!

Weather forecasts for marine generally fairly good from many sources. Double up, using multiple choices.

And for hurricanes, don't depend just on the US model. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is historically more accurate. They certainly were for Sandy.
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Old 06-21-2014, 03:23 PM   #17
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I'm still trying to picture 5-6 ft waves that are 6 ft crest to crest. Can you draw that one for me Psneld?
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Old 06-21-2014, 03:27 PM   #18
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Get a weather radar app for your smart phone like Weather Bug with Spark (lightning detection) or weather radar web pages for a laptop. You can see the storms accurately and in advance. Dodge them or find an anchorage before you can't. If you stay put for a NOAA forecast with TS in it, you will be lucky to travel 2 days a week in the summer.
Weather Bug is the best I have found that works on phone or a tablet.
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Old 06-21-2014, 03:41 PM   #19
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If you are going to run the ditch you are going to have cell service. Download intellicast hd to keep an eye on local storm cells. Since this is a new boat, have both bow and stern anchors ready to go if needed. They built the ditch so we could travel independent of weather. Proceed when you are ready and don't be afraid to nose into a mud bank as long as the tide is rising.


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Old 06-21-2014, 06:17 PM   #20
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Typical NJ coastal forecast has wave height and dominant period. Only recently have they added Swell direction. Up to last year it was wave height and period only. It was up to you to figure out if it was a 5 ft chop or 5 ft swell:

COASTAL WATERS FROM LITTLE EGG INLET TO GREAT EGG INLET NJ OUT 20 NM- COASTAL WATERS FROM GREAT EGG INLET TO CAPE MAY NJ OUT 20 NM- 342 PM EDT SAT JUN 21 2014
TONIGHT SE WINDS 5 TO 10 KT...BECOMING NE LATE. SEAS AROUND 2 FT. MAINLY IN SE SWELL WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 12 SECONDS.
SUN E WINDS 5 TO 10 KT. SEAS AROUND 2 FT. MAINLY IN SE SWELL WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 11 SECONDS.
SUN NIGHT SE WINDS 5 TO 10 KT. SEAS AROUND 2 FT. MAINLY IN SE SWELL WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 11 SECONDS.
MON SE WINDS 5 TO 10 KT. SEAS AROUND 2 FT. MAINLY IN SE SWELL WITH A DOMINANT PERIOD OF 11 SECONDS.
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