Traveling in rough weather

Sans Souci has been running north in fairly heavy seas, and is currently surrounded by what seems an endless stream of storms.

Here’s an excerpt from this morning’s weather report, describing “Norbert” the storm now closest to them:

“…Norbert should become a Hurricane either later this evening or on Tue/07th. …”

The boat is now 95 miles south of Barra, which is a decent place to hide from a hurricane, and amazingly, the seas have calmed a bit. All is well on Sans Souci. The biggest problem will be arriving at Barra in the night. The approach is via a tight narrow channel, surrounded by very shallow water. I’ve been in a couple of times, and wouldn’t try the approach at night. Fortunately, one of the crew, Jonas, says he has been in many times, and is confident it will not be an issue.

Here’s a question from my blog update yesterday, referring to our upcoming trip next summer across the Bering Sea to Japan:


Posted by Chuck on Oct 05, 2008, 04:33 PM EST

Ken–In your latest blog you said “this is not the kind of weather I’d travel in”. Also has you noted, the boat is doing fine, which I’m sure is true-the boat can always take more than the people in the boat! But, my comment or question is, the trip to Japan has the potential for this type of weather if not much worse, so why put yourself in that possible situation if you don’t want to travel in that kind of weather? Or will you use crew to get the boat to Japan and then join it there?

Great question Chuck! And, one I’ve asked myself many times…

I’ve always described myself as a “warm water guy”. I am happiest when cruising somewhere with white sand beaches and clear blue water. Our boat, Sans Souci, is made to handle the roughest of seas, but irregardless of what the boat is capable of, it’s just a lot more fun cruising in calm seas and good weather. We chose a Nordhavn, not because we want to cruise in tough conditions, but because all boaters get surprised, sooner or later, by rough conditions, and we wanted to know we had a boat built to take it.

Our run to Japan is very out of character for us. As a side note, this weekend I had dinner with a sailboater who has run the Bering Sea a couple of times. He spent the dinner trying to talk me out of the trip. He wanted to make sure I understand we would be making the run “backwards” going into the wind. There is a huge difference between running with a 15 knot wind behind you, and a 15 knot wind in your face. It will be several thousand miles of fighting the wind and current, and is likely to be very uncomfortable.

That said, there are a lot of reasons to make this run:

– We’ll be in Alaska next summer, one way or the other. We’ve never cruised Alaska, and all of my friends insist we need to give it a try.
– We’re starting a circumnavigation, and need to cross the Pacific. My preferred route would probably be to the Marquesas and Polynesia, but there’s no scenario where I want to cross the Pacific alone. We found some other boats that want to cross via the Bering Sea, whereas we weren’t able to find boats that wanted to cross via the southern route.
– We’ll he through the “bad part” in 10 days. That’s a small price to pay to be able to run a route that few have ever run.
– A Nordhavn 62, Walkabout, made this same run, the same direction, and said it was a wonderful trip, and not bad at all
– The “idea” of taking the boat into Siberia is too cool to miss.
– As Roberta said, “It will make a great book!”
– And, lastly: We watch the show Deadliest Catch, and want to see Dutch Harbor!

Roberta and I will definitely be on the boat, but we’re also going to take professional crew. We’ll run the boat alone to and through Alaska, then bring on crew for the crossing of the Bering Sea. Our plan is to have ONLY seasoned professionals and ourselves on board for the Bering Sea crossing. No guests.

Perhaps I’m kidding myself, but I really don’t expect the weather to be as rough as what Jeff and Sans Souci are facing now. It will be uncomfortable at times, but I am not expecting dangerous. We will be there at the best possible time (July/August) and there are plenty of islands to hide behind whenever the weather turns nasty. I’m hoping to find at least one crew member who has made the run before, and knows the anchorages.

We’re looking forward to the trip!

-Ken W

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