Weather guru Chris Parker that is. One the most frequently asked questions among cruisers, besides, “Is it 5 o’oclock yet?, is “Do you use Chris Parker?” Our “we can take care of that ourselves” reply has always been “no”. Well heck if it was free then that would be a no-brainer. Two years ago we tried the SSB route but the unit, tried mightily as we would, never picked up Parker’s reports. So we sold it. We use a variety of other sources for weather and have the apps on our iPhones for: Weather Underground, Passage Weather, Wind Alert and Weather Channel. NOAA weather is part of the Garmin package and we can call that up on the chart plotter for local and offshore, but not Bahamas. When in the Bahamas, we listen to the Cruisers’ Nets and the Met Office weather reports and widespread cell coverage lets the phones work 90% of the time.
This year we needed to be all the way down to George Town, Exuma by Dec 22, an aggressive but not impossible schedule. Crossing asap after Thanksgiving would be ideal and while we were prepared to make a less-than-ideal crossing, marching elephants in the gulf stream were not acceptable. So, we caved, but at least now we can claim membership in the “Hail to Chris Parker” clan. Toe-only, not the entire foot though. We bought a one-month subscription to six days a week emails of weather forecasts (Bahamas too) including crossing conditions and suggestions.
As much as we were packed to the gunwales (pronounced “gunnel”) with provisions for four months, we now were overflowing with weather info. Once a crossing window came on the horizon we began to track weather on our top four services which now included Chris Parker. We studiously read, digested and pondered just how “salty” our sailorselves wanted or needed to be. Would we be happy with a crossing day described as “the least-bad day for “Salty Sailors” with winds 20kts or less and seas 7-9ft? If you thought “No”- you are darn right! Thanksgiving Day Mr. Parker recommended we spend the next 3 days getting ready to make the most of a 24-36 hour opportunity expected to begin mid Sunday, Dec 1. Right-o! That we did, as our other sources confirmed a crossing was imminent. On Saturday the “bottom line” advice for crossing was to make good use of any mild weather now through Dec 9.
After one more trip to Publix and filling our water jugs, we paid our mooring tab then got ourselves unstuck from Velcro Beach. Plan 1 was to take 2 days to get to Lake Worth then jump down and over very early Monday. The wind, and the seas especially, would remain up too much until Sunday. We anchored in Ft Pierce which meant we’d be close to that good inlet. Ummm, we could skip anchoring in Lake Worth and just jump out at Ft Pierce Sunday afternoon and go for a double overnight over North Rocks, through Northwest Channel and into Nassau by Tuesday morning. Seas would still be sloppy but the advantage would be calm weather for a few days once over there. Being well-rested for the ordeal- I mean trip- would be good.
Friday night, really Sat morning I guess, at 3am Russ was awakened by s/v Northern Goose entering with flashlights blazing, voices shouting; not exactly making a good first impression. The next morning they were shouting again as he’d gone up the mast to drop down the genoa(?) which had several obvious tears.
We moved further away from their noisy wind generator (one of the few things Russ can’t abide). The expletives are deleted here from Russ’s loud lament when he saw them re-anchoring closer after we’d moved. They dropped anchor practically right in the channel- uh not good folks- then they moved back to behind us. I should have taken a photo of Russ with his bright orange earplugs in :-). Not a single flag on the boat either; since they are not a U.S. vessel a U.S. courtesy flag should be flown from the starboard spreader. Homeland Security was just around the corner (we met them last Spring); maybe we could make an anonymous tip 🙂
Instead, we made good use of a couple days at anchor and checked off all our pre-crossing and rough seas prep items. Come Monday, it WILL be alright. 🙂