Weather the weather, redux (plus a lot of pictures)

December 6

At anchor, No Name Cay, just south of Green Turtle Cay

We are solitary once again, anchored off of a small beach with Treasure Cay’s massive development to the south and Green Turtle Cay’s Batelco tower still visible.  Last night we were anchored in Black Sound, GTC – and that is the subject of the blog entry here.  For those uninterested in such drivel, just look at the pictures and then move on.

So  there you go – some images of what we have been up to.

Back on the weather thing . . .  the last time I talked about weather, it was about Gulf Stream crossing.  That is so last month, I mean really.  NOW we are worried about whether the weather is good for the anchorage we are in, or whether the weather needs for us to move.

You must think we are crazy.  Turn on the weather channel, for Pete’s sake (who is Pete anyway?) Listen to the VHF.  Look it up on the web!

Not so fast, bucko.  Out here (read, the Bahamas), there is seldom internet (at least in our preferred anchorages.)  This means our weather comes from a variety of sources, most of them through ham radio (or marine singlesideband).  We get the National Weather Service (for the Southwest North Atlantic, or for  Florida offshore).  We get grib files, basically a picture of what someone in some cubicle somewhere based on some software says the wind will do.  We can pick up the Nassau Meterological Office forecast in the morning (if radio propagation is good).  We can listen to the cruisers net on VHF 68, or listen to Chris Parker or Herb.  We can look out the window (oh wait).  We can eavesdrop on other cruisers discussing the weather (I LOVE reading the mail!)

Wow.  Lots of information.  The trick?  They usually don’t agree.  Not any of them.  And when the NWS forecast is a bit of gobbledygook (North of 27 east of the front and west of 73, southwest winds 30 knots.  South of 27 west of the trough and west of 73, east winds 5 knots – get the picture?) and the grib files are hopeful but Herb and Chris Parker both say something different . . . we are getting good at playing the guessing game, most often with good results.

What we have to remember is to look at the details carefully.  Yesterday we left the anchorage at Manjack Cay (thank you, Bill and Leslie, for a wonderful afternoon!), expecting an easy motor down to Green Turtle.  Wrong.  20-30 knots of wind on the nose made for an exciting sail (once we took down the laundry, stowed the buckets, and wrestled the sail cover off) as our little dependable engine does not move us into that kind of slop.

We anchored in Black Sound (charts say do NOT anchor – pick up a mooring – holding is bad; guess we have good gear or found the best spot to anchor) and went to sleep with bellies full of conch fritters and Goombay Smashes (yes, we went to the BlueBee Bar), confident that the wind would stay southwest and keep us off the Wharram Cat ahead of us.  Whee!  4 am . . . we are sitting to a northeast wind and are 10 feet from that catamaran . . .  I love mid-night anchoring drills – bless our dinghy!  Close inspection of yesterday’s weather report shows us that, indeed, the grib files and NWS agreed that the wind should shift to the NE around midnight.

Today we woke up to grey skies and almost non-stop drizzle.  As the wind (from as many sources as we can find) seems bound to stay easterly, we have headed to a prettier anchorage just south of GTC.  We are watching the weather reports more closely tonight!

Sleep well – hope that those of you with wintry weather are enjoying it.  We are hoping the sun comes back tomorrow before our towels mildew.

December 11, 2009 update

Anchored at Man’O’War Cay

Happy day after your birthday, Marge!

I realized that non-sailors don’t have much of an idea as to why weather might be important in picking an anchoring spot.  Basically, while we love wind and all for the power it gives us (electricity as well as sailing), we like to be anchored where it is smooth and relatively flat.  If the wind is coming at us with an island to break it up before it gets to us, the waves will be smaller.  If the wind is getting to us with lots of space to whip up the waves – not so comfortable.  Add to that the fact that if our anchor were to drag (let go of its nice hold on the ground), if we are blowing out to sea we have a little more time to react.  If the wind is blowing us onto the shore – not so much time to react.  As anchor dragging (of course) happens more often at 2 am than any other time (a true fact – ask any sailor), we prefer NOT to worry about a lee shore (when the wind would blow you onto the beach – or rocks).

We will most likely leave this wonderful spot today, looking to get a new vista and get closer to Hope Town (a whopping 3 miles away from here) to meet Anik, Marc, and Colleen on Monday afternoon.  Will post more and more pictures (plus a grand video from the snorkeling expeditions!) in the next week or so.  Stay warm!

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4 Responses to Weather the weather, redux (plus a lot of pictures)

  1. Claire Lennarz says:

    Hey Maddie and Julian! Hows the trip going?Hope your having fun!

    ~Claire&Nick Lennarz

  2. Stewart says:

    Can I ask what you are using for ground tackle? I am presently just completing the build of a BCC and making decisions re this. I would appreciate it. Thanks.

    • nicawaters says:

      Hello-

      Primary tackle is 35# CQR (genuine article) on 200 feet of 5/16th BBB chain. A snubber is ALWAYS used. Secondary (which we have used a couple of times to keep us out of trouble when a front is due past) is a 33# Bruce on 40 feet of chain with 200 feet of nylon rode shared between them.

      LOVE love love our anchors. Don’t go undersized – good ground tackle is what lets you sleep at night.

      • Stewart says:

        I got the CQR and the windlass etc for 5/16 chain I’ll have to look at the Bruce. Thanks for the heads up.

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