New World, New Cruising Plans

New technology, new plans. (Posted 19 Oct 01)

Probably like the rest of you who are currently stuck on land, it is hard for us not to overdose on current news-which is depressing to say the least. And, though the process has been painful, we’ve gradually come to a philosophical approach to the post 9-11 world. The bottom line, for us, is this-realistically, we’ve gone through two-thirds to three-quarters of our useful lives (we’ll leave how “useful” is defined to another day!). Although we’re going to be uneasy when we fly back and forth to wherever the boat is located, this is just an added risk that has to be taken in stride. We are not going to stop doing the things we enjoy and love because of the new situation. But, we will definitely reexamine where and how we sail.

Prior to 9-11 the plan was to head for Europe next summer, and then sail towards New Zealand the following year. Now, the South Pacific is looking a lot more inviting. Or, if we get stuck in the Caribbean for some reason after we race down in November, we might just bring the boat back to the Pacific Coast of Mexico. You can be sure we’ll be lugging around the charts we need for all of these areas.

And now to more positive thoughts. Weather and world events permitting, we’re planning on participating again this year in Steve Black’s Caribbean 1500. We’re going that way, and Steve has promised us a lot more competition this year-and the race was really fun last year.

So, as usual, we’re watching the weather to get a feel for the patterns this fall. We’ve got two new approaches to this. The first, getting batches of faxes from the Marine Prediction Center server gives us a traditional look at things-but a much faster way of getting the data. (We wrote about this last week. For more info, click here.)

The second approach is really exciting. We’re downloading long-term weather forecast files in a form which can be animated on the computer, and on which we can then “sail” BEOWULF using what we know is her performance at different wind angles and wind strengths. In a couple of minutes the computer shows us the wind strengths and angles (true and apparent!), boat speed, and optimum course given the weather situation-for every two hours during the forecast period.

Two days ago, for example, in theory we could have made the trip in 4.5 days. If we had left this morning, it would have taken closer to six days. We’ll be talking more about this really cool software in the near future- stay tuned.

So, to keep our sanity and try to stay in a positive frame of mind, the first thing we do every morning is check the weather fax data and the computerized routing projections-and then imagine ourselves out there doing it…

Posted by Steve Dashew  (October 11, 2001)

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