Sunday, September 22, 2013

Another group of NW Passage yachts depart Nome into the stormy Bering Sea weather - Recommendations?

20130926 UPDATE: Anchor 'watch' has been and remains the key word. Looks like waiting until the below 972mb low passes would be prudent. Then tally ho to Unimak Pass (I cannot recommend False Pass to anyone but locals or highly skilled mariners. Be sure to use your VHF and see if any 'locals' are making the transit and you could follow through. False Pass will save you 18+ hours instead of Unimak Pass but know there are real dangers and strong currents if you miss the slack water periods.)







20130923 UPDATE: Where are the yachts today? What is the forecast weather? Where are the yachts planning on being for this gale? Security Cove Alaska? This gale's forecast path sure looks like a direct track for Security Cove.




Security Cove is near Cape Newenham - checking the coast pilot I find the following:

Security Gove 9 miles northeastward of Cape Newenham is a good anchorage except with northwest winds the usual summer gales are southeasterly The bottom is even and shoals gradually The best anchorage is about f mile northeastward of Castle Rock on the range of Castle Rock and the first rocky promontory southwestward in 3 fathoms mud bottom Fresh water can be procured from a stream which enters the cove There is also good anchorage in the middle of the small bight on the southwest side of Castle Rock in 3 fathoms good holding ground This anchorage is less affected by the ground swell making along the coast from Cape Newenham than the anchorage in Security Cove 

Weather
All reports agree that the best weather usually occurs in March and April of the early spring During the summer southeast to southwest gales are frequent lasting from two to five days These storms gradually blow themselves out and are generally followed by a few days of good weather In the early fall northerly winds are frequent and are usually accompanied by a clear sky After the middle of September strong gales become frequent and prolonged.
 

I have extensively navigated around Togiak in the Spring (Herring tendering) and Bristol Bay in the Summer (Salmon fishing/tendering) I would not recommend Security Cove as an anchorage for shelter from an approaching westerly Gale. (Passage means NW 30-40kt winds directly into the anchorage) Once committed from a clindestine late arrival into Security Cove there is little to be done since there are no other good close anchorages. CAUTION - the navigation charts here are extremely inaccurate since an earthquake - there are navigation hazards where none exist on the charts. I hope they do not go
exploring and stay in Security Cove then depart direct for Unimak Pass. 


In the alternative you might consider Hagemeister Island but the currents and shoals are notorious. BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL.

I have advised the yacht I have communications with of these hazards. I wish they had asked or posted their intentions sooner rather than keeping it to themself at this late date.


SO WHAT ALTERNATIVES DID THIS YACHT GROUP HAVE?  HOLDING AT NUNIVAT ISLAND IN NASH HARBOR ON THE NORTH SHORE THEN SHIFT TO THE SOUTH ANCHORAGE OR VICE VERSA DEPENDING ON LOW PRESSURE TRACK, ALLOW THE GALE TO PASS TO THE EAST THEN PROCEED DIRECT TO UNIMAK PASS.  I LIKE THAT A WHOLE LOT BETTER THAN GOING OUT OF THE WAY TO SECURITY COVE.



- - - end update - - -

Original Post Follows

Another group of NW Passage yachts have departed Nome Alaska to cross the Bering Sea to the south before winter temperatures freeze-up Nome harbor.



Here are today's surface analysis and the 48 hour future forecast with the wind and wave forecast valid on September 24th.





And a 96 hour future forecast and wave/wind forecast.


Recommendations anyone?

What might be your tactics from where the vessels are shown above knowing you want to minimize or better yet avoid heavy weather on a route via Unimak Pass to Sand Point Alaska?

Would you consider as an alternative upon reaching Unimak Pass to sail direct for the Straits of San Juan de Fuca to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada?

Other alternatives?  Hawaii from Unimak Pass?


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

How about advancing to Nunivak Island and wait for the gale to pass, re-check weather for updates then proceed to Unimak Pass (or hide behind tiny Amak Island) to King Cove to Sand Point during the best weather windows?

Captain on GREY GOOSE said...

KUDOS - you must be a Bering Sea fishermen to know about Amak Island... I've spent a few long nights there dragging anchor to keep out of passing Storms... lol

Congrats - I like what you have suggested!

David Thoreson said...

Hi Captain, David T here. When we did the Passage in 2007 on Cloud Nine we got trapped in Nome with big southerlies and had to devise a scheme to get out. I concur with anonymous above. We would use the southern islands as deflectors and sail short weather windows to the next "safe" harbor like Nash Harbor on Nunivak Is. Then to Pribilof group. Take what it gives you and don't get greedy. We had 65 knots in the Gulf of AK en route to Kodiak. Good luck. Be safe.

Anonymous said...

Checking weather this morning it looks like the yachts are going to get a real butt kicking. Slow moving "sailboats" need to rethink their sailing strategy from Nome. Its apparent that motor vessels (sailboats too which can motor-sail) are a better choice but at the price of today's diesel fuel... ouch!

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