Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Best Weather Forecasting Tool

Distance traveled:  50.2 statute miles
Travel time: 6 hours, 22 minutes

Thursday afternoon when we arrived in Port Townsend, all the websites we use to make travel decisions based on weather said Friday wouldn't be a good day, and Saturday would be better. So we told Lynn (Bob's sister), our Float Plan Monitor, that we'd be staying in Port Townsend another night and travel home Saturday. We don't normally file a "Float Plan", similar to a Flight Plan for airline pilots, except when we do major crossings of big bodies of waters, like the 174-mile overnight trip we did on the Gulf of Mexico a year ago. But during winter months here, there are so few recreational boaters on the water to help in the event of problems, and we did cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca twice, and we're traveling alone, so we decided to file Float Plans for this trip. It's comforting to know someone is monitoring your plans and will call the Coast Guard to check on your welfare if you don't arrive at your destination on time. Wouldn't want to suffer the fate of the Malaysian Airlines flight that disappeared more than a week ago and has yet to be found!

Friday morning we got up and checked the weather and didn't like what we read: everything had changed since the previous night's posting. We deferred our jog so we could check the NOAA weather update that's usually posted at 9am. Yikes, Friday didn't look good and the next few days looked worse!

Instead of Friday looking marginal, and Saturday better, conditions on Saturday now looked worse than Friday. It looked like if we didn't travel home right away, we might be stuck in Port Townsend for 3-4 days. Looking out the window, conditions didn't "seem" worrisome. We're currently enrolled in the Bremerton Sail & Power Squadron's "Weather" class, and had been reminded that the best indicators are our eyes, checking to see what's visible in the sky and on the water around us. Those observations said "Go now!"

So we sent off a new Float Plan, secured items that might fall over in larger waves, cast off our lines and took off on 30 minutes notice. This is called "learning to be flexible", not entirely different from what friend Phebe did to Cathryn a year ago by cajoling her to join in Yoga and Pilates classes at the YMCA, though she's been more successful in gaining flexibility in boating than at the Y.

So we took off under skies that looked like they could go to either good or bad, but wind and water that was calm, knowing we could always "bail out" at Kingston, the half way point, if conditions became rougher than we prefer.

We crossed the Shipping Lanes (the Vessel Traffic Separation scheme that essentially creates traffic lanes in Puget Sound) twice, and got passed by vessels many, many times our size, going three times our speed.

Few recreational vessels were out, but cargo and freighter traffic was normal.

As usual, we enjoyed the shoreline scenery including a particular fondness for beachfront homes and cottages. After more than six hours, with waves trending from 1-3 feet, wind from calm to 15 - 20 mph, we arrived back at Bremerton Yacht Club where we keep the boat, happily tied up around 4pm until next time. It was a great fun trip, and we can't believe what marvelous good fortune we had with the weather, considering it's still March. Eight days, departing home one day late for weather, made for an awfully nice cruise. What a winter it's been!

Note to readers: We recently had a PC failure and are now using another PC for blogging. Unfortunately this also resulted in our losing access to the LiveWriter software we'd been using, due to some technical glitch that our IT department hasn't been able to solve. So we're now using Google's Blogger software, which we find to be unusually non-intuitive  for a Google product. This has resulted in some pretty weird formatting and other oddities. We're leaning on the IT department to get all this fixed, to no avail so far. At the same time were reformatting the Blog, as it had gotten a little stale, and too Loop- focused. Now that the Loop is a full year in our rear view mirror, we want to freshen it up. Since this too is in the province of the IT department, which seems overwhelmed at the moment, it may take awhile. In the meantime, our apologies. (Note: everyone who actually knows us, knows that Bob is our IT department, and this blog wouldn't even exist but for him!)

1 comment:

Gary said...

Cruising at sea is a lot more complicated than cruising in a "land yacht".
But at least you have an IT Department you can trust.