Not good weather especially for a run north along the Alligator River and across Albermale Sound. Further, with a gale warning in effect it is highly likely that the railroad swing bridge over the Alligator River will be closed making the passage to Coinjock impossible. We decided to stay put.
The key to go/no go decisions is the ability to compare forecasted to actual conditions. Is the weather behaving the way the forecasters said it will? Guided Discovery is incredibly well equipped to deal with this critical comparison.
One extremely good decision was to equip the 63 with a weather station and two Garmin GMI 10 Marine Instrument Displays, one of which is used exclusively for weather. This allows us to see what's going on where we are located. Some of the most useful screens are displayed below.
|Wind direction and speed at a glance|
|Wind speed, wind direction, temperature and barometer|
This is the display we leave on all the time
|Wind graph showing wind speed for the past 6 hours|
We can get the NOAA weather forecast in one of three ways at the dock; from our computer, from our ipad and from the Garmin 15 inch multifunction displays.
|Both Garmin multifunction displays showing Sirius Satellite Weather|
|Forecasted high and low pressure with fronts graphically displayed. Note the low pressure area off South Carolina|
|Sea conditions showing wind direction, wind speed, wave height and wave direction|
|Precipitation occurring at the moment (lousy photo)|
At the dock we are now using NOAA (www.weather.gov) rather than Weather Underground, which tends to dumb down the data. NOAA tells it like it is and the site is more robust.
Additional data that we can get in cellular range is from a great ipad application called Buoy Data. While hard to see in the photo below, we can tap on the buoys for each state. The buoy's are listed with their locations. Tap on one and it gives you the location on the map in addition to the latitude and longitude. This is particularly helpful especially for cruisers like us. NOAA display buoys with the name of their location, which is great for locals but difficult for cruisers transiting an unfamiliar area.
In the photo below we are looking at the data for Duck Pier NC. The map shows the buoy on the Outer Banks north northeast (NNE) of Albermarle Sound in relation to our location in Belhaven. This data is particularly critical for us this morning as it provides a good indicator of the winds that are likely to effect our transit in the open 30 mile stretch of the Albermarle Sound where we would be headed directly into the wind.
The data at 8:30 AM shows the following:
- Wind direction: N (10 degrees)
- Wind speed: 26 knots
- Wind Gust: 31 knots
- Atmospheric Pressure: 30.11 inches (1019.7 mb)
- Air Temperature: 51 degrees Fahrenheit (10.5 degrees Celsius)
- Water Temperature; 49 degrees Fahrenheit (9.3 degrees Celsius)
|Data for a buoy critical to our decision making on whether to stay or go|
Meanwhile as we sit here in Belhaven at Dowry Creek Marina we are pinned to the dock by the northeast wind. We have four fenders taking the load. Last night before going to bed at 3:00 AM and this morning at 7:20 I needed to adjust the fenders. I do not know how to calculate the effect of wind pushing close to 85,000 pounds of boat but I can state that I can barely move the 63 in zero wind.
To adjust the fenders I needed to turn on the engines as the hydraulic bow and stern thrusters are driven by the engine's power take-offs. I was actually able to adjust the fender solo using the Glendenning Remote Control. Holding the remote in one hand and the fender line in the other I was able to re-position the fenders.
Important Lesson: When I tied up on Friday I put out two fenders positioned horizontally against the pilings. This was clearly inadequate in light of the forecast. The result was that as the tide change the fenders slipped out of place and the rubrail contacted the piling. Bad luck. The metal bolt head (smooth and round) that hold the piling in place made contact with the rubrail and slightly damaged the fiberglass (but fortunately not the rail itself. This could have been a lot worse.. Not a big deal but it served as a reminder that I have to be vigilant and constantly think ahead.
Written by Les.