23 December 2011

Crossing the Gulf Stream

For those among you who are not sailors, let me briefly explain why we are talking so much about the Gulf Stream: The sea between Florida and the Bahamas has a very strong current, which flows from South to North. See above the forecast chart as per today.

So first of all, you have to check the weather carefully. If for example the wind is blowing against the current (North wind) the sea starts to build up very high (several meters!) waves. You will try to avoid that under any circumstances even it means to wait for another few days or weeks before you cross..

Secondly, you have to consider the current while steering. If you sailed straight over, the current would shift you away from your target. In our case it could be up to 22 nautical miles (40km) that would be a big miss! So you try to consider the current: This could look somehow like this:

Line 1 = Straight course from Florida to the Bahamas (F to B)
Line 2 = How much the current will move you while under way – so you add this to your target and this gives you a theoretical course to steer which ends up in Line 3.

To make things a bit more interesting, the current is not everywhere the same (stronger in the middle of the gulf), so you try to use it as well to your advantage which may end in sailing an actual S-Curve which I painted red…That way I will avoid to angle into the current.  

Hope not added to much confusion and we wish you all a pleasant x-mas!


  1. Many call this the gulf stream but it is the Florida Current . The stream officially is more north.

  2. ... whatever we call it, have a safe crossing, paradise is waiting for you. It was so wonderful meeting you and we hope to see you again somewhere ...