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Crossing the Gulf Stream – Sailing – Sail Away Girl


Hello Sailors,

Once again more great information gathered at Cruiser’s U. This time it’s tips for crossing the Gulf Stream.

Something sailors definitely respect is the Gulf Stream. You want to avoid the short steep waves that occur if you cross at the wrong time.

The Gulf Stream is created by many factors, the rotation of the earth (Coriolis effect), different water temperatures, different salinity levels, varying seabeds and of course winds.

All of these factor into creating the Gulf Stream.

Sail Away Girl Crossing the Gulf Stream

The seminar was led by a very experienced sailor, Ralph Naranjo. Ralph has crossed the stream more than once and offered these valuable tips for crossing the Gulf Stream. Ralph is scheduled to have a new book coming out this year, The Act of Seamanship, as an ebook. So keep your eye out for it as Ralph has a great deal of wisdom to impart.

Here is a sample of the great knowledge Ralph shared with in Annapolis.

NOAA Ocean Prediction Center for the Gulf Stream:

  • Use the NOAA Ocean Prediction Center to forecast Atlantic Ocean Temperatures.
  • The Gulf Stream temperature ranges from 82 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Warm core rings or eddies go clockwise
  • Cold core rings or eddies go counter-clockwise
  • Usually patterns in the Gulf Stream stay for 30 days
  • You want to sail over warm eddies and under cold eddies – this can help increase your speed of crossing
Sail Away Girl Crossing the Gulf Stream

Not the seas you want for Crossing the Gulf Stream

Planning a crossing of the Gulf Stream:

  • Don’t cross if there is a Nor’easter on the Gulf Stream, you do not want wind on the stream (versus with the stream)
  • Goal should be to cross the stream as fast as you can in the narrowest part even if it means taking you off course
  • Decide where to cross based on weather, focus in particular to wind patterns – if you need to, heave to off the stream and wait for weather to pass
  • Don’t cross the stream if the winds are 20+ knots especially if they are from the North (I’ve seen some recommendations that you not cross if winds from the North are at 10 knots and up)
  • Any winds from the North are generally not good, but especially Nor’easters
  • The worst spot to cross has historically been at Cape Hatteras – avoid crossing from here
  • Be sure to allow for drift – You could end up in Portugal, which if that isn’t where you were going, well…
  • Take someone with you to cross the Gulf Stream if you can

The NOAA Ocean Prediction Center also has an experimental page you might want to look at for winds against the current. The page shows the winds on the Gulf Stream over the past 24 hours.

I hope this information becomes a permanent predictor on NOAA’s site as this is really valuable to sailors and mariners worldwide.

I also found a great site that purports to have the current wind conditions all over the world. It does not predict, just shows current information, but it’s very cool. You can check it out here.

I for one am looking forward to achieving this milestone, preferably with no sea stories to go with it. Just something more like this. 🙂

Sail Away Girl Crossing the Gulf Stream

OK, more wind would be better, but you get my drift (no Gulf Stream pun intended).


Don’t forget to enter to win an autographed copy of Bobby Flay’s latest cookbook, Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction. Only one entry per person. The winner will be randomly selected on July 25, 2014. Good luck!

Sail Away Girl Bobby Flay

See you on the water,

Sail Away Girl