That Didn’t Work
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That Didn’t Work

That Didn’t Work

That Didn’t Work

Well, that didn’t work. A spectacular failure might be an apt description. After 3 days of laborious effort getting north and east in conditions that ranged from near flat calm to near gales, I’m forced to give all the easting I’ve earned back as I’m blown dead downwind, rolling crazily in steep, dangerous breaking waves and 45 knot winds.

The weather model forecasts had called for SE 15-25 knot winds building gradually over 24 hours. As the front approached and passed over me some 30 hours later, a brief period of 30+ knots and then winds of SExS 25-28 for the following 12 hours. All well and good for getting north. Not easy, but doable.

Expecting the model forecast to get at least one of the either direction, strength, or to timing correct didn’t seem too much ask. I should have known better.

I was finally blown off my intended course last night with winds blowing East at 40-42 knots and gusting close to 50 some 12 hours before the forecast peak winds, Wind waves and swell were over the forecast height of 5 meters, very steep and breaking almost continuously. The secondary and tertiary swell,  both running at 45 degrees to the primary swell but in opposing directions, was also large and breaking. To put it mildly, we were in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

If the above all seems rather academic and mundane, let me put some perspective on it. Hold on to your science hats for a bit:

Most would think to increase the force exerted by a 25 knot wind, the wind would have to blow at 3 times that strength, or 75 knots. Not so. The force exerted by the wind increases as the square of the velocity. A wind blowing at 25 knots exerts a force proportional to 25×25 or 525. A wind of 30 knots exerts a force proportional to 30×30 or 900. If you are still with me, you will see that the 5 knot increase from 25 to to 30 very nearly doubles the force. If the wind is blowing 40, the force exerted is proportional to 40×40 or 1600. That is more than three times the force exerted by a 25 knot wind. A relatively small increase in wind, especially at higher velocities, translates into a much larger force. The difference at sea is that the waves generated by a 25 knot winds cannot overwhelm the boat. At 40 knots, they not only can, but statistically will. Overwhelm is a very polite way of saying ‘turn Seaburban upside down’.

To put some perspective on the above bit of science and the model forecast, imagine if you ask the Minister in charge of the Canadian Department of Highways and Transportation how far is it from Vancouver BC to Calgary AB. You would like to go there over a four day weekend and restrict your travel to the trans-Canada highway. The actual distance is something like 800 kilometres or thereabouts. His official answer is ‘Well, it could be 800. Or 2400 kilometres. It’s either one or the other. But I assure, both are correct.’

If the model output misses the mark by a factor of three, it’s not just wrong, it’s a dangerous, glaring error.  The difference for mariners is very far removed from  academic or trivial. The model output is consistently wrong on all three primary factors (wind strength, direction, timing) and it’s a continual source of aggravation. This time, it has cost us dearly.

Chased most of the way from South Cape north and east by a severe gales and storms  south of me and tracking east, gales are now dropping down on me from the north and, most curiously, parking themselves on top of me.

Not that anything or anybody is conspiring against me, but I feel a complex coming on…

Follow my tracks in real-time:


  • BT
    Posted at 10:41h, 02 July Reply

    Bert, you are amazing! Following you progress and posts with great admiration for you courage and wishing / willing you success. You are on the downhill run now. All the best from an Aussie follower BT ( 2 degrees of separation from your Uncle Joe).

  • Sandi Lyon
    Posted at 03:20h, 06 July Reply

    That looks about right. When it’s hot out in the ocean, its foggy and wet on the Wet Coast. That means you’re on the right track, heading the right direction. Finally. Woohoo.

  • Anita Kuntz
    Posted at 00:10h, 08 July Reply

    Following you journey and am truly amazed.

  • Suzan Persons
    Posted at 15:43h, 09 July Reply

    What an amazing journey!!

  • Karin Hill
    Posted at 15:27h, 13 July Reply

    Been following you for a couple of months now. What an amazing journey! Your blog is insightful and humorous. Almost home. Safe travels!

  • MountainJack
    Posted at 19:52h, 14 July Reply

    Has to be an amazing feeling to be so near home, Bert.

    Have spent months at sea “steaming”, not sailing, gaining my sea legs with the constant motion just became second nature. Getting back to a stable platform at dockside or over on the beach left me wobbly for a day or two. Cannot imagine how you’ll feel after a year of hardly ever being stable. There is that other thing having been on your own for that long; the familiarity of constant aloneness , the feeling of approach avoidance, being forced back into humanity. Might feel as though you could just extend a little bit more and savor the experience just a little longer…naw, probably not.

    Welcome back home, Bert. You’ve completed one heck of a feat.

  • Arthur Oliver
    Posted at 04:33h, 15 July Reply

    Getting oh so close. What’s the ETA?

  • estelle C whiddon
    Posted at 02:58h, 16 July Reply

    Bert, your homecoming Saturday will be a joyous occasion! I have followed the voyage daily and hope your arrival home brings much joy.

  • Peter Jungschaffer
    Posted at 07:19h, 18 July Reply

    This has been so great. Thank you!!!

  • BT
    Posted at 09:50h, 18 July Reply

    Hi Bert, you are just a few hours away from home. We are cheering for your most successful journey. We are especially amazed at the sailing conditions below Australia and New Zealand, as we can have some very big polar blasts hit us at this time of the year. Cannot imagine what it was like to sail through that type of weather. Can only take of hats off to you I amazement. Hope that you make it to Oz for a visit. What a wonderful achievement you have accomplished. /bt

  • Antonio Corbelletta
    Posted at 16:15h, 18 July Reply

    Congratulations! What an adventure! Well done. I have enjoyed tracking your voyage everyday just wish I would have know about it earlier, from the beginning.

  • Suzan
    Posted at 18:13h, 18 July Reply

    Yeahhhhhhhhh Bert!!! You have done it!!!
    Happy Homecoming – And stay safe!!!
    It isn’t the same world that you left!!
    I’m going to miss reading your travels and your adventures!! But thrilled that you’re home (almost) safe and sound!!
    Next trip around the world, hope that you’ll stop along the way and post your photos of the locals and the ports!!

  • Raegan Elford
    Posted at 19:23h, 18 July Reply

    Soldier who has logged more sea time than this Navy sailor.
    What an incredible accomplishment (the journey vice logging more sea time than I)

  • Marianne Scott
    Posted at 18:25h, 19 July Reply

    Congratulations on your accomplishment! I guess we will have to put up a plaque commemorating your voyage on the Victoria Harbour wall.

    Hope to see you this week.

    Marianne Scott

  • Tom Cory
    Posted at 07:40h, 23 July Reply

    Congradulations Bert from Annapolis MD. A Great Adventure.

  • Mark
    Posted at 12:24h, 29 July Reply

    I don’t think that anyone that attended Estevan Junior High could have imagined that this was in the future for one of it’s students. I checked in at different legs of the journey and was fascinated every time. Congrats!

  • Marcel Neamtu
    Posted at 07:14h, 06 December Reply

    What an adventure! But i do have a comment about the structure of the blog: it’s very hard for a late reader to read your earlier posts in a timely order or something. Very annoying to scroll all the time to your earlier there anything or I can be done? Am I missing something? If yes, pardon my ignorance.
    Cheers and take care!

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