Skirting A Low Pressure System

May 24-26, 2020

Brief Comment from the Station Manager

The good Sailing Vessel Estelle has a strong low pressure weather system smack dab in the way of her planned route north. This has caused some reefing and re-routing. Here is how it went down.

Sunday May 24, 2020

From the Captain to Commander’s Weather Routing Service

We have been monitoring with great interest the approaching low pressure system, on both NOAA weather charts and PredictWind.  In recent days, it seems to have deepened in the center and strengthened in its intensity.  We are trying to position ourselves well out from the SE quadrant, but not so far that we end up in light air. That said, we are generally north of the reference waypoints you provided in your previous forecast, by about 50 miles.  

We expect to feel its impact most later today and tomorrow and appreciate any insights you can provide. Thanks! SV Estelle

Monday Morning May 25, 2020

From the Chief Galley Officer

Well back to weather…I’m assuming that Mark will send you an update , if not, we gybed last night and finished just as it became dark. The thought was to get moving a bit more east and to slow down our northward progress to allow the low pressure system, that is boasting 7 meter seas and 40-55 knots winds, to move out of our path. Sounded good to me. Can you say barf? 

This morning we are continuing to move east with the same goal in mind and to avoid an unknown vessel bearing down on our old heading.

So far this AM we are on a lovely broad reach, bearing 46 N, wind speed 17 knots, with 1.5 – 2 meter seas – if you don’t know, this is an absolutely lovely course. Winds high enough to move, waves fun enough to provide a good ride. I don’t know much but it seems that ESTELLE enjoys this course as well.

From the Captain’s Log

Today and tomorrow will likely be the strongest weather days, at least for this system.  We are in good shape, however, well-positioned and battened-down. Canasta is fun and I can’t wait to learn Mexican Train and Catan.

Monday Afternoon Update May 25, 2020

From the Chief Galley Officer

If you’ve been playing with predict wind or in some other manner watching the weather around ESTELLE you might notice a low pressure system heading our way? Or is it that we’re headed its way? Last night we enjoyed a museum of different and wonderful cloud formations.  The pictures hardly touch their wonder. 

With the clouds came a cooling of the weather and this morning for the first time we broke out long sleeves, pants, and light jackets.  The weather has promised to get cooler as we approach this low and move into the northern latitudes.

ESTELLE and clouds and my favorite… the blue period

Tuesday May 26, 2020

From the Captain’s Log

We made it through the heavy weather last night and today, without incident. The wind just shifted and the cold front came through, so we’ve gybed onto a more northeasterly course.  We doused the stays’l, set the genoa and shook out the reefs in the main.  Hopefully we can keep moving for a couple of days before the wind totally dies off — Thursday or so.  Ironic, isn’t it, that we go from one extreme to another over the course of a couple of days?

Where we were, the winds were consistently in the high-20s, sometimes sustained into the low 30s, with gusts to the mid-30s. We never saw 40 knots. The seas were not as big as I expected… maybe 3 meters.  We had the stays’l and 3 reefs in the main — sailing very conservatively. 

We had conditions almost as bad on the passage from La Paz to Hilo, but the difference was those were trade winds and these were part of a storm system. Further north (where there are a couple of other boats that we’re aware of) the sustained winds were in the mid-30s to 40, with gusts over 55, and 7 meter swells!  It is still a nasty storm but we are/were well positioned. 

I look forward to getting back home.  I really enjoy the ocean sailing and passage-making, but this cruise is winding down.

2 thoughts on “Skirting A Low Pressure System

  1. i was once told if you can sail lake superior, the north sea and san francisco bay you can sail anywhere  — but when you’re talking 40 plus knots i don’t think it matters where you’re sailing — wheeeee  toooooo much

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