Port Credit Marine Survey
& Yacht Delivery
13. Weather, Wind & Waves
Weather - The second thing you better get right…. We all make fun of the weather(wo)man and how often they are wrong. Weather forecasting in the Great Lakes for a number of reasons is extremely difficult to predict but the east coast and Bahamas are really quite consistent and forecasts quite good (if you have an SSB to pick them up), but (you knew a but was coming) when they do get it wrong it can really spoil your day.

How come all the weather people on TV are a bunch of giggling idiots ?

We left Lake Worth heading for Grand Bahama with a forecast of light and variable winds from the SE clocking to SW and 4’ swells with a period so long you can’t even feel them. This is perfect Gulf Stream crossing material and turned out to be a spectacular day and easy crossing. When heading back to Lake Worth a couple of months later we were thrilled to get precisely the same forecast. The winds built slowly at first
with occasional gusts to 15 and we started to see a 2’ chop on the four foot swells. Things didn’t smell right we should have turned back ! 

Rare and Perfect passage
By the time we got to the half way point wind was sustained at 35 knots with gusts to 45. Even though these were southerlies things got very rough and extremely uncomfortable as we could do nothing but hold on. The Lake Worth entrance was not doable so we ran north to Pierce inlet and almost broached twice coming in. We should have gone with our sense of smell. Do not take chances with the Gulf Stream, the Whale channel in the Abacos or any of the inlets. If it does not smell right pop in another DVD and stay put.

Wind - One more aspect not to be toyed with. If you decide to run outside for any east coast section make sure that inlet conditions will be tenable when you want to go back inside. Do not try to get in the smaller inlets if wind is opposing tide at anything more than 10 knots, you will get a very nasty surprise. Even the large Class - A inlets (all weather) can be wild places. When they say an inlet is  “Class -A - all weather” they mean for 600’ ships not 34’ Beneteaus.

Waves - Many are tentative when first poking the bow out in to the Ocean but if you have handled 10 footers in the Great Lakes you can easily handle this. We have been pummeled by 10 footers on the lakes with wave periods of as little as 3 seconds and we have hardly noticed 10 footers on the Ocean with periods of 22 seconds. Stick you nose out at Sandy Hook and if it smells good, go for it.

As shown in the photos in Chapter 1, not all waves are caused by wind or current. This fast ferry at Manhattan throws a tremendous wake that can be devastating if you are caught on the beam. Not all boats handle this stuff the same way. We found on Isle of Skye that we took this stuff much easier on the stern than running into it bow first. This guy did it right. He came up close behind us at speed, dropped the throttle, idled by, moved in front then hammered it. We never felt a ripple. When you see a go fast coming call him on VHF and ask for a "slow pass". As he gets very near to your stern drop your throttle and move to the middle of his wash when he passes. It make life so much easier.

Many years ago Laura and I took the "Weather" course through the Canadian Power & Sail Squadron. We were fortunate enough to have been taught by a Professor of meteorology who had the gift of being a great teacher. I got the fundamentals and have a reasonable understanding but Laura got it, I mean she Got It ! Laura is often more accurate in short term predictions than anything we hear on the radio. Take this course and study it well. There are few better investments you can make with your time.
Oh yeah, the first thing to get right ..... your crew. I am fortunate enough to have married my best friend. You will spend a lot of time together in a small space. You better like the person you're with or yours will be one of the Canadian boats for sale in Indian Harbour.

Chapter 14. Communications.

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