Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sea state

Passage to Barbados, day 9: One of the conditions that boats include in their daily check-in to the Rum Runners Net is the sea state. That and wind are the two most important factors in any passage. In the Mediterranean we learned that even moderate winds of 20 knots could make the sea state extremely uncomfortable with high waves very close together. The oceans are a little different. Here in the mid-Atlantic we get swell, which is waves that run in the same direction over great distances, and wind waves. Waves from swell are generally a little further apart with the time in between being important for comfort. Boats report swell, and some include wind waves as a separate thing. Thus, we sometimes hear "2-meter swell from the NE with 1-meter wind waves from the east on top." Where we are, I don't remember hearing anyone report anything less than 2-meter swell. More often it's 2 to 3 meters or more (3 meters is about 10 feet). And that's what we've been having and expect to continue having until we reach the shelter of some islands. As we often hear on the net, we're rocking and rolling. People haven't been reporting the timing, but John estimates about 7 to 8 seconds, which is a little too close for comfort. I don't remember it being this bad (uncomfortable, not dangerous) when we crossed to Europe, but that was summer, and this is winter even if it feels like summer here. Any storm you hear about in western Europe or eastern North America is sending us swell down here in the tropics.

Day 9 statistics: 175 nm, 7.29 knot average, bearing 268 degrees. Yes, that's another record. Position at 1500 UTC Jan. 6 was 13°36.063'N, 045°52.724'W. (We did receive a message that Yotreps rejected one of our earlier position reports.) That's 3 degrees of longitude in one day, which is excellent. We have less than 800 nm miles to go to Barbados. All is well aboard Solstice and Orinoco.

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