Thursday, April 4, 2013

Coastal currents off of Miami

As we get closer to the Bahamas we need to start thinking about crossing the Gulf Stream east of Miami.  On a first look, we see something interesting, but not yet sure it is real, namely a large pocket of light current due east of Miami.

We will have to watch this over several days ( 5 or 6) to see if this persists. Not sure it will matter but it is definitely interesting.

The data are from the HF Radar measurements of University of Miami.

View the video in full screen and watch inside the blue box.  The currents in this box are either light, or actually flowing west, the direction we are going!

We will have to watch this.  It could all be a complete fluke.... or even an artifact of the radar equipment... ie some sort of shadow.  This we should be able to learn by calling the folks who run the equipment.

On the  current page link above, you can click an arrow for more current data, then click a history button for more info.

If any one wants to study this, we welcome your results.  thanks.

For an overview of ocean and coastal currents see links at:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Just about back underway...

The team is back underway, for the most part, though at this very moment back in some N-NW winds that call for sea anchor again. As noted earlier, this should be over tomorrow for more steady progress.

For the record, about 7 hours ago, they crossed the exact place in the ocean where they were 3 days and 16 hours earlier.  So we have lost that much to these bad winds, simple as that.

For now we do not see anything like that in the future, but it is a good example of what can happen, and has to be folded into the equation of what might happen if another front passes by them... Granted however that this last event was an unusual circumstance.  But they also had a bit of an unusual circumstance just after the departure.  No one can say they are having good luck on the weather.

They were at the cross over point at 0400 on Mar 11 and again at 2000 on Mar 14.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Headwinds till Friday!

JRH position 
06:00 Mar 12 UTC 
21.4373 N, 48.3996 W 

2h SMG=0.2kts, CMG=111
24h SMG=0.4kts, CMG=12

1763.98 nmi to Miami

Still experimenting with ways to present the wind.  Here is another shot. Again, just click open any one and then mouse scroll to make your own movie.  They have strong head winds at the moment, so we are for the first time in the trip actually going backwards, but it wont last for long. Looks like Friday it goes light and will stay that way for a while.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Friday March 8 Progress Report and Forecast

pins mark 00z positions each day

JRH position
22:40 Mar 08 UTC
19.9596 N, 47.4486 W

2h SMG=3.0kts, CMG=309
24h SMG=2.9kts, CMG=297

1839.64 nmi to Miami........... at 2.0 kts = 38 days...... at 3.0 = 26 days

About to cross 20N, and past halfway done by 90% of the ways to define halfway, and tomorrow some time, past all 100% of the ways…. not to mention that the Americas have been the closest actual possible destination since getting 100 miles past Cape Verdes, about a month ago. It is just that Miami seems like a nicer destination now than it did 1 month ago.

* * *  and with a new record day of progress 2.9 kts at 297T

Multiple Congratulations!

There is some strong wind north west of the boat and moving this way, but the bulk of it seems to be passing north of the boat. Below shows the winds they might get over the next week as this frontal system goes by.

This will help them north for a while, but then most likely slow them down a bit when the wind veers around to the west. For now it looks like it would only be strong westerly for a couple days. So there might be time to hang out the sea anchor and get some laundry done after the past week of big push.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Weather Outlook

The JRH has light favorable air for the next week or so... if we stretch the forecasts, but this is not at all the case for the rest of the Atlantic in front of them, north of them, and south of them.

We have friends in the Central America who are getting hammered at the moment.

For latest weather info that might affect the boat, see  tropical Atlantic weather

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Almost Halfway There –– Past Halfway There

It depends on how you want to count it.

Latest JRH position is

 04:00 Mar 01 UTC is  18.3419 N, 41.246 W 

2h SMG=1.0kts, CMG=302,   24h SMG=1.3kts, CMG=286 

2204.59 nmi to Miami  (about half that to nearest land in the Caribbean)

They started at Dakar, Lon 17º 31’W, with a Destination of Miami,  Lon 80º 08’W, so the halfway mark is at Lon 48º  49.5’W.

It is perfectly fair to say whenever they cross that line they are halfway to Miami, regardless of latitude.

On the other hand... the Lon of the Windward Islands of the Caribbean is about 61W, which would have put the halfway point to “crossing the Atlantic” in general quite a ways behind them now, back at 39.5W

It has been tough slow going, but they are making steady progress and are in this sense on the downhill side of a long trip.  Good work guys!

By the way, their GC course is going to start *very* slowly coming down as they  proceed, and now it is just crossing on to 288T from the previous 290.  They have been doing excellent job on average course made good in unseasonally unfavorable seas.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Big eddy on the horizon... Maybe!

You may well have detected that we are struggling to try to understand and be able to predict on some level the ocean currents the boat must navigate.  We have mixed success. We did see a big eddy some days ago and there was definite evidence they felt some of it, but details of the prediction did not seem to pan out.

Now we approach another monster eddy at about 18N, 40W and will have another chance.  To see this one, first go to their latest position plot, that shows where they are relative to a zoomed in view, then go to 6-day forecasts and scroll the pics.

This eddy has been there for many weeks now according to RTOFS.  We have yet to get confirmation of it from other ocean models.

Note that at the time of writing here (19z on Feb 19) the boat is moving at 4.3 kts to the west.  If this is real data then they must be in a strong (>2 kts) current now. They cannot row that fast.

You can check latest position and progress at JHR position update.

We shall see...

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Progress Reports Automated

If you would like to get progress reports of the boat that look like this:

You can use any browser on computer or phone and go to this page:

and then set a book mark. This updates every 2 hours, at 5 minutes past the hour. It shows the present Lat and Lon as well as the course and speed made good over the past 2 hr and over the past 24 hr.

On iPhones, you can press the bookmark button and create a shortcut on your screen, and then just tap that screen icon to see how things are going.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Riding along on the Big Red Bus

The team has been making excellent progress, over 3 kts right on the great circle route, but now they are taking a break on sea anchor till daylight.  The winds are picking up and they have no moon at all till about Feb 15 (then 30% illumination). It is difficult to steer a good course in the waves when you cannot see them coming.

Even on sea anchor last check showed then drifting W-NW even with strong wind pushing them SW!

In short, they are ideally positioned in the large current eddy at the moment, shown below. They should get help from this for another couple days.

Looking ahead, there is even a much larger eddy down the line (picture below), which we can hope will still be there when the boat gets there. These mesoscale eddies can last a month or more in about the same place. They are rotating clockwise, with current speed in the eddy varying as patches of faster water rotate around the circle.

Note the picture above is a zoomed in corner of the smaller one in the bottom pic, SE corner, just west of Cape Verde. At the moment, 22z on Feb 8, the boat is in the yellow water just entering the red patch.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Curent action on the horizon

Check the daily current updates to see that there is a large eddy ahead of the boat, and you can scroll down the images to see that if all stays the same, the boat will enter this current on feb 7 at 00z, which is thursday, feb 6 at roughly 4pm seattle time.

 This is worth noting for a couple reasons.

First it might be our first real check of these current predictions, and second, it could be a very nice ride for the rowers. The red parts in the GE picture are 4 to 5 kts, so keep tuned in. Thursday is the big day.

The pictures below are the RTOFS predictions initialized 00z on Feb 5, valid for 00z on Feb 7 .

Note that the rowers have to hold the excellent  course they have been making.  If they fall off to 275 T they will miss the big red bus.

If they do hit the current it looks to be SW, but if they keep rowing 2+ kt to 300 T or so, they will make great progress to the west, and maybe even get to ride it up the other side.

The big picture

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Nice video of the start

I originally posted this is the wrong blog. Now moved here.

Great French video of the start.


....with some longish ad in front of it

For more video, photos and news, check out 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Progress report Jan 24-25

The little blue dot is us at the moment. There is clearly a lot of traffic around, but just as we can see them, the ships can also. This is an AIS picture from marine traffic.  There are receiver antennas on the coast who participate with Marine Traffic by sending back their live data to the Marine Traffic HQ. After they get 100 mi or so offshore, this will no longer work.


Team is underway and doing well  in  difficult conditions, not to mention that everyone has to adjust to the life at sea, which takes a couple days.

You can see their position updated every 1.5 hr at the oarnw site.  click any position point to get more data. Making on average about a knot to toward about 300 T.  Once things settle down and the wind and waves clock back around to the east, progress will pick up.

Check the wx map to see that there is a trough over coast of Africa that has cranked the isobars and winds around to the north and freshened them–they who would otherwise be lighter trade winds from the NE.

These trough winds brings with them larger waves, which slows down progress.

My guess of the waves from the ww3 model is about 3.5 m from just west of north, which means they might be rowing with seas on the starboard bow... we have to learn later what real conditions are.

My guess is they might take a somewhat more westerly course when the wind and seas allow them.

Currents do not become an issue for a couple days i would guess, but we will keep an eye on it.

For next day or two waves are still predicted at from 350 (actually slipping a bit more to the west 340), but they should diminish. Sat down to 2.2 or so (down 40%), and by sunday start to move to the east, meaning from 010 or so.   200 miles west of you they are from almost NE.

PS normally we describe waves as the direction they move toward, but in our application it seems more logical to think of the direction they are coming from.... we will see as we progress here what is the best way to describe the seas in this application.  Generally wind and waves should be from the same direction, but there are multiple reasons that get them out of sync.

for one, the wind can change directions relatively quickly, but it takes half a day or longer for the seas to follow.

Also if there are any prevailing swells in the neighborhood, they combine with the wind waves to make a combined sea state which will have some combined height and direction.  Generally if the period of the waves are much longer than 12s or so, these are mostly swells, if less than 10 or so, they are mostly wind waves.  The boat is now experiencing something in between these two ends.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Boat being readied for departure

Boat is now at the staging port and being charged, tested, rigged ad provisioned for the ocean trip. So far on track for a Wed departure.

For the time being you can follow the boat at the earlier tracking page used for Vancouver Island expedition, but we hope to have another display running shortly.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Atlantic Wave Predictions

Here are the wave predictions from OPC for the Atlantic (most of these long ones with long periods in the tropics are swells). Dakar at 15N, is just off the chart in the bottom right. The boat will have NE wind waves from the trades, riding on top of these swells. Very roughly speaking, anything we see that is below 7 or 8s will be wind waves, and the longer waves are swells from storms well north of them.  Also the shorter period waves will not have much fetch behind them, whereas you will see the swell patterns clearly emanating from distant sources.

We have more specific data we will add here shortly.  They are about to get underway, so we have to get this stuff together in the next week or so.  If all works as planned, these data should be updated automatically every day.  We shall see.

and the 48h prediction
and the 96h prediction

Monday, January 7, 2013

Progress report with conch

I have learned today from Greg that the boat is due to arrive in Dakar on Sunday, Jan 13. It will then be moved to the private harbor of the Hotel Terrou Bi, whose official address is on Martin Luther King Boulevard, which is rather of a surprise and coincidence, as they might well be departing near the US holiday of Martin Luther King Jr Day (Jan 21).

To see where this is, start from the picture showing Dakar as the westernmost tip of Africa, and zoom in.

Thus we can fine tune the departure point we guessed in an earlier article, but that does not change any of the rest of those early notes.

As I understand, the boat is now on the ship SANTA GIORGINA, which is, as I write, headed into the port of Gibralter, to arrive before midnight, tonight. After that stop, it must turn around and go straight on down to Dakar, I would guess. Dakar is about 1600 nmi from its stop in ALGECIRAS, and the ship cruises in the ocean at about 14-15 kts, which will taken them about 4 - 5 days, so we are right at the 13th. You can use the above link to watch the boat on the ship come down the coast of Africa.

So standing somewhere near Martin Luther King Blvd. in Dakar near Martin Luther King Day here the local folks in Dakar will hear Jordan's famous conch signal saying good by. Below is his signal saying goodby to Starpath at our last meeting, with Greg and Pat in the background.

Here is another view of the conch in hand somewhere before or after the Round Vancouver Island expedition. We look forward to hearing it Miami sometime not long after the Vernal Equinox.

So first rough estimates: leave by Martin Luther King Day, arrive by the Vernal Equinox.

Update added on Jan 24, to follow though on the conch. Here is the conch going off at the start with a neat video attached.

Click the pic to see the French video. It has a 30s ad in front of it.