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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Storm Warning

Sailing is always more enjoyable when the winds are from aft of the beam and, of course, not too strong. With this in mind, we always check forecast winds and waves along our route 8 days into the future as well as climatological expectations for our route and time of year.

And so it was as we prepared to depart from Reykjavik. Kap Farvel at the southern tip of Greenland has a thoroughly nasty reputation for storm force winds combined with year-round coastal ice. Nonetheless, for our passage, uncharacteristically benign conditions were on offer. So we made final preparations, arranged a visit by the customs and immigration authorities and set out to sea.

Forecasts, while thoroughly scientific, are not scripts for what is to come; they are just informed, calculated predictions. And so, just 12 hours out of port the forecasters began predicting that a storm would pummel Kap Farvel just around the time we would get there. Nautically a storm is roughly half way between a gale and a hurricane and is never a pleasant experience at sea. Oh well, remember that "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" advises the reader "don't panic".

And so we didn't. The storm was far enough into the future that we could head forward for two days and still have time to return to Reykjavik before being affected by it. That would allow a reassessment closer to the date of the storm as well as allowing the forecasters and computers who materialized the storm to dematerialize it on a later forecast.

As the first two days passed, the storm stayed stubbornly in the forecast but we became confident we could get to the other side of it before it arrived and experience a mere gale rather than a wicked storm. So we pressed on.

.STORM WARNING...
LOW 54N44W 997 MB MOVING NE 30 KT AND INTENSIFYING. WITHIN 480
NM E QUADRANT AND 300 NM E AND S OF A FRONT FROM LOW CENTER TO
51N48W TO 49N55W WINDS 25 TO 40 KT. SEAS 8 TO 14 FT.
24 HOUR FORECAST LOW 62N39W 979 MB. WITHIN 240 NM SE SEMICIRCLE
WINDS 40 TO 55 KT. SEAS 18 TO 29 FT. ELSEWHERE WITHIN 300 NM
N...360 NM E...AND 480 NM S AND SW QUADRANTS WINDS 25 TO 40 KT.
SEAS 10 TO 20 FT. ALSO WITHIN 240 NM E OF A FRONT FROM 51N35W TO
44N49W WINDS 20 TO 30 KT. SEAS 8 TO 12 FT.
48 HOUR FORECAST LOW E OF AREA 65N33W 992 MB. WITHIN 480 NM S
AND 120 NM W AND NW QUADRANTS WINDS 25 TO 40 KT. SEAS 8 TO 16
FT. ALSO WITHIN 240 NM SE OF A FRONT FROM 52N35W TO 46N47W WINDS
20 TO 30 KT. SEAS 8 TO 12 FT.

And so here we are to the south of Kap Farvel with a steady west wind - strong but not as strong as anticipated. Because of this wind from the very direction we want to proceed, we can either sail south south west or north north west. With pack ice on the south coast and stronger winds near the cape, the southerly choice is really the only choice.

So we will go sideways for a day or so and then resume our travels toward a Greenland port on the west coast. It is really not so bad .. the sun is shining - glittering on the waves and lighting up their foam crests.


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At 25/06/2013 16:00 (utc) our position was 57°55.06'N 042°10.70'W

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