Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Sailing Around Australia; Planning Weather Planning

Bum's Bay  Gold Coast Queensland


Planning for Weather Planning

So our bags are packed our crew are on board, Easy Tiger is full of fuel, water, essentials and  there's enough food on board to feed the Chinese army. We just need the right weather and off we go on the Down Under Go East Rally to New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

We are even techo-ed up after installing an Iridium Go satellite system. This will allow us to send and receive basic emails and sms, make brief phone calls and show our boat’s track in real time.

Most importantly, the Iridium Go allows us to get weather reports from the Predict Wind Offshore app. This will be vital, not only during our trip but while we are in and around New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

Fortunately the set up of the Iridium Go was reasonably straight forward, all seemed to be a bit easy actually until we tried to send and receive emails and messages to each other. It certainly helped to have Brain Oldfield (B2 from SV Zofia) nearby as his assistance was greatly appreciated. I did feel a bit of a dill though when Brian determined that our problem was the spelling of our password.

Talking among the other Rally participants we heard that a lot of them were using a website called Windyty. This is a visual map of wind patterns and forecasts. It uses similar models of weather forecasting to Predict Wind but is a handy quick check, or if you like a second opinion.

In anticipation of the journey, and with the availability of predict wind and Windyty, all the rally participants have become amateur weather forecasters. Each time we see each other we have been swapping possible weather windows, proposing departure dates and discussing the various weather models.

The apprehension is building and the anxiety is high. Mainly because we are all ready to start this magnificent adventure, but also because many crew have flights booked and other things they need to do. This includes our son Luke who is due to fly from Noumea to Florida on the 8th June.  So, if we leave later than the 28th May, we may be faced with finding new crew.

The rally participants are all sent into a frenzy when the word of a possible weather window appears. Two boats have decided that due to their crew’s deadlines, they would brave the amateur weather routes and departed on Sunday of their own accord. We are all watching their track with much interest.

On top of Predict Wind and Windy, part of our fees and also part of our reason for joining the rally is that we get the services of a professional weather router. The weather routing is done by a New Zealand fellow named MET Bob. It is his advice that the Down Under Go East Rally organisers will take to let us know when the best time to head off, is.

As we wait for updates from Metbob, the whispers of a potential departure send all the rally into a whirlwind of last minute preparations. Marina's are booked, fuel is topped up, provisions are purchased in anticipation of Metbob's go ahead. Then we wait. The email pings and  Metbob's advice is... that conditions would be unsuitable in one or another part of the 1000kilometre journey.

Then marina's are left and fuel and food is consumed as we mope around the Gold Coast Seaway anchorages.

After a few days, we all turn our hand to amateur weather forecasting.  Then someone sees what they think is a window and spreads the word…

Windyty Screen Shot

Predict Wind Screen Shot

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