How Do You Know When It's Time To Go?

          Tornado watch. Severe thunderstorms. Hail. Fog. 25 knots of wind on the nose.

          Holed up in the marina last night in a thunderstorm, I was happy about our decision not to leave yet. We were lucky not to be hit by lightning but, otherwise, weather prediction isn't mere luck. Since we do plan to leave this afternoon, I'm posting screen shots of  some of the information that we used to plan this passage.

           The following four come from


            I entered the time we would like to depart. UTC is Greenwich Meridian Time, so subtract 5 hours. I told it that we wanted to avoid winds over 30 knots and seas over 3 meters, and to give us the most comfortable sailing angle given the wind.


          Next, Hanalei's characteristics and speed under different conditions and it's time to press Go!

       Above, you see the route that predictwind generated. The two different colors show US and Canadian meteorological information. They're both saying it's basically a rhumb line, a straight shot from Southport to Savannah.

           Now it gets a little sail-tech-ish. At each of the following times, it reports wind speed, direction, its angle relative to Hanalei, boat speed and course. The second set of numbers does the same with the Canadian information. S is starboard (right) and P is port (left). 


          We can sail an angle of about 40 degrees, which is considered upwind, or greater. Around 90 degrees is a beam reach, 135 a broad reach and 180-ish a run. (Those are Mike's sailing vocabulary words for the day.) Even though the wind isn't sailable at our departure time, we'll be motoring off the dock and maneuvering out the mouth of the Cape Fear river. Of course, we'll watch the sky and our instruments and not rely solely on the prediction.

          According to predictwind, the passage should take about 24 hours, so we will arrive with plenty of daylight. Under unforeseen circumstances, we have plenty of places to duck in: Charleston, Beaufort, Hilton Head.

          If this post is turning you into a weather geek like me, you can watch animated wind and dancing waves at Or worry about severe weather at

          If not, just wish us fair winds and following seas.


Blackwater Woods is the place you'll be passing south of Pawley's Island....and about 10 miles inland. But you can say that you've been there. Do wish you fair winds. Wish I were sailing with you. Carol