|| I had a fun discussion today with Steven and Carol Argosy on Seabird that I
thought I'd pass along.
We were talking about our current trip, and how fortunate we had been with the
weather. Over the past four months we have run over 6,000 miles, from Seattle to
Japan, through Alaska, the Bering Sea and Russia. We did this against the advice
of some very smart boaters, and even earned the nickname 'the wrong way gang'
for swimming up stream.
I probably shouldn't admit this, but it really wasn't that bad a trip. We were
trying to quantify how many hours we had of rough seas. The term 'rough seas' is
subjective, and means different things to different people, and to different
boats. Amongst our group, out of the 6,000 miles run, the highest estimate was
that we were in rough seas for about 20 hours, and the lowest was closer to 8
hours. In other words, we ran some of the nastiest seas in the world, crossed
the Pacific, and had a good time doing so. It really wasn't a rough trip at all.
Braun (Grey Pearl) and I had this discussion a few nights ago. I said that we
were lucky (with the weather), and Braun said that I was being unfair to
ourselves. The truth is that we had an easy time of it because:
1) We chose the best months to make the passage
2) We picked a route that had lots of places to hide from bad weather
3) We had good weather routers
4) We listened to the weather routers, and supplemented them with our own
5) We moved only when there was clear agreement that it was safe to move.
In other words, the secret to dealing with rough seas is actually fairly simple:
avoid them. If you follow the rules above, you can go anywhere, and most likely,
you will have a smooth time of it.
Actually, we had it far better than anyone anticipated or predicted. I asked
Steven and Braun whether they thought the currents were against us, or with us,
the majority of the time. None of the three of us thought the currents were
overwhelmingly against us. It seemed balanced. Sometimes the currents helped us,
sometimes they didn't.
Braun advised me against admitting that we had so little pounding into bad
weather. His thought was that we'd have [censored] owners, and [censored] owners
trying the passage, and someone would get killed and we'd have blood on our
hands. Braun is right. I shouldn't downplay the potential seriousness of the
seas, but the fact of the matter is that we did have a trip in which 99.9% of
the time, we were in benign seas. And, the other .1% really wasn't all that bad.
I don't think any of us ever felt in danger.
So ... if there is any skillset I'd encourage those wanting to do long-distance
cruising to acquire, it would be to get good at reading weather faxes, and to
work with a good weather router. We had two on our trip; Weather Bob, from
ocmarnav.com, and Rich Courtney, who is a NOAA weather forecaster, who is a
friend of a friend, guiding us just because he's a good guy, and we
needed/wanted all the help we could get.
Choosing your route is as important as choosing your weather. A friend wrote me
last week asking who our weather router is, so that they could consult with them
on their passage from San Francisco to Hawaii. Unfortunately, the weather router
is somewhat irrelevant for that particular passage. Once my friend leaves the
dock, the weather is what the weather is, and there isn't a darn thing anyone
can do about it. Weather forecasting is only accurate 24 to 48 hours into the
future. Consulting a weather forecaster during a 20 day passage is a futile
endeavor. On a power boat, fuel is tight on major passages, and once you are out
at sea, your abilities to hide from bad weather are non-existent.
So, I guess my message is: If you are worried about bad weather, don't be. By
developing a reasonable understanding of weather forecasting, and perhaps
speaking with a weather router, you can limit your exposure to bad weather to a
tiny fraction of your cruising. The vast majority of the time you will be
enjoying gentle seas and having fun.
And since this is the Nordhavn Dreamers board, and in deference to Braun's worry
that our good fortune will lure [censored] and [censored] owners out into
hazardous waters, I'll add that even with all the forecasting in the world,
there will still be that tiny percentage of the time when you get caught in
rough seas, and those are the times you'll be darn happy you have a solid boat
Nordhavn 68, Sans Souci