Thursday, November 6, 2008

Norfolk to St. Thomas USVI, November 2008

CELESTIAL, our IP 440 will depart Taylor's Landing Marina today, November 6, 2008 after several days of preparation. The crewmembers are: Captain Jochen Hoffmann, First Mate Louise Orion, and student crewmembers Paul Kidd, Matt Carlson, Tom Kopcik, and Larry Weld. CELESTIAL will make the passage to St. Thomas via a planned non-stop ocean route. The cruise has an estimated distance of 1500 miles, and will take approximately 11 days, sailing both day and night. Please read the COMMENTS to this post which will discuss the planned route, weather and actual progress.

36 comments:

Captain Tom Tursi said...

CELESTIAL was scheduled to depart Norfolk on Tuesday, Nov 4, but a low pressure storm system tracking up the Gulf Stream along the east coast produced 50 knot winds from the east which would be right on the nose for the initial course route. The Low stalled east of the Delmarva peninsula on Wednesday and currently remains there producing 20 to 30 knot winds from the northwest which is favorable for departure. Over the next few days the Low is expected to move out to sea and the westerly winds should moderate.

Complicating the weather picture is the development of a new tropical Low off the coast of Honduras in the western Caribbean, which is expected to intensify to hurricane strength and move initially north then recurve to the nowtheast and aim for Bermuda. This storm named Paloma is expected to cross Cuba and travel out to sea and probably dissipate.

CELESTIAL departed Norfolk around noon on Thursday and at 1338 EDT was located east of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel headed towards Cape Henry in winds of 20 knots from the northwest. CELESTIAL plans to head south after rounding Cape Hatteras and aim for the western side of Paloma as it tracks out to sea... Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

Paul and I were testing the radio on Celestial and the Maritime Mobile Network. We are able to make contact thru the relay.
At 1630 hrs the report
Position 36-39N X 75.48W
Course 150T @ 8.7 knots
All is Well

We plan to check in daily at the same time unles radio conditions are bad. Wish I was out there too!

Alison Loughran
Baltimore, MD

Captain Tom Tursi said...

At 0800 Nov 8 CELESTIAL reported their position at 35-17N and 74-58W and sailing on a course of 160T at 7 knots. They are located a few miles east of Diamond Shoal light off Cape Hatteras and just entering the northeast flowing Gulf Stream. Winds are westerly at 15 knots and all is well onboard.

Hurricane Paloma is continuing on its northeast track across the western Caribbean and is expected to cross Cuba and the Bahamas Sunday and Monday and possibly breakup in the Atlantic starting on Tuesday.

all614 said...

I heard from Paul on CELESTIAL today at about 1430 hrs on the Maritime Mobile Net -had to use a relay as I cannot hear them directly. He said they are sailing well and crossing the Gulf Stream and should be across it in about 4 hrs.

Position:
35-07N X 73-58W
On course 090T at 4.8 knots.


Alison

Captain Tom Tursi said...

11/7 0800 TT wrote to CELESTIAL:
Recd your 0140GMT pos 35mi NxE of Diamond. Local Wx appears good with winds NW12 backing to SW tonight and remain SW to sunday then clock to NW and NE by mon. Paloma pos 18.1N 81.6W winds 80 forecast track remains as yesterday and expected to shear apart by tues NE of BHM. Pls provide status.

***********************************
11/7 1800 CELESTIAL wrote:
Define "sheer apart" Got Wx from Ham. Current courses converge. Category 2 then 3 suggests decision tomorrow. One option stop Cape Canaveral.

*********************************
11/7 2200 TT wrote to CELESTIAL:
All forecasts indicate Paloma will not be a problem to you. I suggest that you consider making easting as your winds permit. NHC probabilities for 120 hours from 11/7/1600 EST as follows: Dissipated 47%, Depression less than 34 kts 29%, TStorm 34-64 kts 22%, Hurricane over 64 kts 2%; forecast max winds 25 kts at 120 hours. Quote following from 11/7/1600 EST NHC discussion:

...PALOMA WILL LIKELY INTENSIFY UNTIL VERTICAL WIND SHEAR INCREASES TOMORROW. THEREAFTER STEADY WEAKENING DUE TO EFFECTS OF SHEAR IS FORECAST UP UNTIL A LANDFALL IN CUBA. A MORE RAPID WEAKENING WILL PROBABLY OCCUR AFTER CYCLONE MAKES LANDFALL IN CUBA. EXTREMELY HIGH SHEAR OVER THE ATLANTIC OCEAN SHOULD WEAKEN STORM QUICKLY.

AIRCRAFT AND SATELLITE FIXES YIELD MOTION OF ABOUT 020/5...A
LITTLE TO THE RIGHT OF THE PREVIOUS ESTIMATES. GRADUAL TURN TO NORTHEAST APPEARS LIKELY AS HURRICANE ENCOUNTERS
SW FLOW BETWEEN HIGH PRESSURE OVER CENTRAL CARIBBEAN AND AN APPROACHING MID-LATITUDE TROUGH OVER EASTERN US.

CONTINUES TO BE DISAGREEMENT IN MODELS ON WHAT HAPPENS TO PALOMA IN LONGER-TERM. HOWEVER I PUT MORE WEIGHT ON SOLUTION THAT SUGGESTS HURRICANE WILL RAPIDLY SHEAR APART NORTH OF CUBA WITH LOW LEVEL CENTER BEING LEFT BEHIND AND MOVING SLOWLY NEAR BAHAMAS.

ALMOST ALL GUIDANCE NOW SHOWS SYSTEM EITHER MOVING SLOWLY OR MOVING WESTWARD IN ABOUT 5 DAYS. THE NHC FORECAST WILL BE SLOWED SIGNIFICANTLY AT DAYS 4 AND 5 AND COULD BE ADJUSTED EVEN FARTHER WEST IF CURRENT MODEL TRENDS CONTINUE. HOWEVER THERE PROBABLY WON'T BE MUCH LEFT OF PALOMA IF IT MAKES THAT WESTWARD TURN DUE TO XTREMELY HIGH SHEAR.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL 07/2100Z 18.7N 81.3W 90 KT
12HR VT 08/0600Z 19.3N 80.9W 100 KT
24HR VT 08/1800Z 20.2N 79.8W 95 KT
36HR VT 09/0600Z 21.1N 78.6W 85 KT
48HR VT 09/1800Z 21.8N 77.5W 50 KT...INLAND
72HR VT 10/1800Z 22.7N 76.0W 40 KT
96HR VT 11/1800Z 23.5N 75.0W 30 KT...REMNANT LOW
120HR VT 12/1800Z 23.5N 75.0W 20 KT...REMNANT LOW

Captain Tom Tursi said...

At 1340 EDT CELESTIAL's reported position was 3340N, 7257W and sailing well on the planned course lines. Current forecast is for winds between 15 and 25 knots; Saturday & Sunday from the SW, Monday clocking NW to N to NE, Tuesday NE, Wednesday E and Thursday SE. CELESTIAL is trying to make progress to the SE by sailing to a point about 300 miles south of Bermuda before turning straight south to head directly toward St Thomas. It's important for them to "get east" before going south of latitude 27N where the strong easterly Trade Winds begin to fill in. Once they arrive in the Trade Wind belt it becomes very difficult to get east in the open ocean.

Peter Schloss said...

I really appreciate the blog on the passage of Celestial to the Virgin Islands, and the opportunity to follow her progress. Thank You. Pete Schloss

Captain Tom Tursi said...

At 0145 EDT on Nov 9, CELESTIAL's reported position was at 3250N, 7127W or about 340 miles southeast of Norfolk. At 0700 I sent the following weather forecast summary to CELESTIAL:

Paloma continues to degrade in Cuba area; remains expected to sweep toward Bermuda later this week. The 96 hr weather forecast for 11/12 shows e new Low developing over Bermuda and moving off to the northeast. A cold front will overtake you today. Winds to clock as previously reported except that Wednesday will be from the SE and remaing below 25 kt

Joyce Kopcik said...

From the families and friends of the crewmembers, thank you for the detailed reports. It gives us a chance to share in the adventure and know that all is well.

Joyce Kopcik

Captain Tom Tursi said...

I received this email from CELESTIAL at 0900 EDt on Nov 9:

Thanks for the weather update which is similar to our pick up. 0800 position 3222N, 7036W. Skies are overcast. Took celestial shots yesterday. House bank depletes quickly. Old problem. Use engine off gear to recharge. Genset output insufficient. Tried to call yesterday. Will try again shortly. All is well. J.

all614 said...

I was just on the Maritime Net and while I cannot hear CELESTIAL, the Net operators relayed me the position at 1620 hrs as:
31.46N 69.58W
140T @ 6.4 knots.

...and the best part..ALL is WELL.

Alison

Barbara Carlson said...

I,too, like Peter, Joyce and Alison am very grateful for the daily updates on the blog ... it is so reassuring and helpful to hear that all is well and it is so much fun to be able to follow Celestial's progress. Thank you!
Barbara Carlson

Captain Tom Tursi said...

At 8:30 pm on Nov 9 I spoke with Captain Jochen by radio telephone. He reported their position at 3131N, 6939W and sailing well toward their point "X" at roughly 27N, 64.5W where they will turn south toward St Thomas.

Jochen said all the crew are doing well and enjoying the exhilerating sail in wide blue water seas. They were successful in getting some good celestial shots of the Sun, Moon and Jupiter and used the results to improve their ocean navigation plot.

The boat has been sailing well and making good speed, and all the crew are in high spirits with the joy of sailing.

Captain Tom Tursi said...

At 0145 on Nov 10 CELESTIAL was located at 3118N, 6924W or about 480 miles SE of Norfolk and about 220 miles WSW of Bermuda. They made good 145 nautical miles in the last 24 hours which is a good rate of progress and indicates that they are sailing well.

Captain Tom Tursi said...

At 1240pm on Nov 10 CELESTIAL reported that they were motoring at 4.2 knots in calm winds under overcast skies. House banks batteries were good at 13.2 volts. Today they conducted man overboard (MOB) drills and celestial navigation training, and all crew members were into it and lovin' it. They also sent Happy Birthday wishes to the daughter of First Mate Louise.

all614 said...

From the Maritime Mobile Net at 1620hrs November 10th:
All is Well
Position: 30.38N X 68.28W
155T @ 5.0 knots

Can't wait to see them. I am heading to St. Thomas Wednesday AM ...hopefully will see them early next week?

Tom: any idea, within a day or two, on when they will arrive?

Alison

Captain Tom Tursi said...

Alison: It's really too early to give a reliable estimate of arival date, but it normally takes about 11 days for the trip so Nov 17 is an approximate estimate, but don't hold me to it... T

Rita Hanson said...

Hi Peter!

It's good to see you are following this cruise vicariously through this blog! Have those grandchildren arrived yet?

For all reading, Peter has done this cruise 3 times with the school! http://www.mdschool.com/Letters/Schloss.htm
and almost made it a 4th time this year!

Rita

Captain Tom Tursi said...

At 0150EDT on Nov 11 CELESTIAL's position was 2956N, 6802W. I sent the following weather summary to them this morning:

A big High pressure system is moving over eastern US will give you E to SE 15 knots for the next couple of days. Paloma remnant remained local to Cuba and expected to dissipate by Friday. A new Low developing over NJ Friday expected to move NNE and drag a cold front, but doubtful that this will reach you. No other prominent features noted.

Peter Schloss said...

Hi Rita, Tom, and the Captain and crew of Celestial! I am jealous, and vicariously accompanying you on your passage. I was originally signed up to sail with you, but learned early this year that my daughter and son-in-law were expecting quadruplets! That is an event that trumped my sailing plans. The two boys and two girls arrived on October 21st, about 11 weeks premature. They remain in the hospital, but are doing well for being so tiny. We hope to see them home for Christmas.

I wish you all well and hope to again sail with you in the future. Best Wishes. Pete Schloss

RJ Hart said...

It's great to keep up with school courses this way. Makes me think I should sign up for another class.

Ormus said...

HELLO CREW!!!!!! I've been avidly following the cruise via the blog and have plotted the course on Google Earth! AWESOME!

all614 said...

This time I was actually able to hear CELESTIAL for a few seconds on Maritime Mobile Net.
Position on Nov 11th at 1608EDT 28.55N X 67.02W
150T
Sailing well.



Alison

Captain Tom Tursi said...

At 1130 EDT CELESTIAL was at 2732N, 6618W or about 800 miles from Norfolk and under 600 miles to St Thomas. Winds have filled in from the eastern Trades and they're sailing close hauled to point "X"

Captain Tom Tursi said...

Here's a weather forecast summary I sent to CELESTIAL at 0930 this morning:

I have you at approx 28N-66W. Big High persist for several days. E winds settling in. Some SE. None expected over 25 kts. New cold front coming out on weekend; doubt it will reach you.

Captain Tom Tursi said...

Received the following email from CELESTIAL at Noon on Nov 12:

Winds E at 20 knots. Great sailing under double or triple reefed mainsail and full jib. 0800 position 2737N, 6616W, Course 145T Speed 6.5 knots. Repairs: Mainsail track restraint bolt rope pulled out 1' near tack. Goose neck; 6 of 8 machine screws were loose; retightened with medium locktite. Macerator overboard pump not operative; still trouble shooting; rigged manual pump out through deck fitting. All crew busy, happy and learning. J.

Anonymous said...

Ahoy Celestial:
Jim Wallace here.... I was part of the crew that brought Celestial from Gratitude to Little Creek/Norfolk... We had a wild, wet and fantastic ride in the Bay... Have been following your progress and am exceedingly green with envy.... I had told Capt Eric that I would have tried to stow-away for the ride South.... Please make sure the Celestial is 100% since we'll be taking a class in Feb on her... Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy..... The only thing better than reading about the action would be "living" the action... Keep up the good work... til later...
Jim W

Captain Tom Tursi said...

As of 2230 EDT on Nov 12, CELESTIAL was located at 2627N, 6537W or about 480 miles from St Thomas. They are now fully into the Trades and experiencing NE winds of 20 knots allowing them to sail close hauled toward point "X" although it looks like they'll hit it maybe 150 miles to the south of 27N. Forecast is for winds to clock to E 20 knots keeping them close hauled and making easterly progress challenging.

CELESTIAL reported a jam up in the marine heads requiring manual pumpout overboard using a jury-rigged setup from the ondeck access... A messy situation, but the crew performed well despite heavy seas.

Captain Tom Tursi said...

CELESTIAL expects to arrive in St Thomas on Sunday, Nov 16 if winds hold as expected.

Captain Tom Tursi said...

At 1000 EDT on Nov 14 CELESTIAL reported their position at 2312N-6430W or about 280 miles from St Thomas. With this position they've made their planned progress eastward and were able to ease sheets a little and head straight toward St Thomas. Weather forecast continues to promise Trade Winds of E 20-25. If it goes SE, they may need to tighten up to windward to maintain their longitude E of St Thomas.

They've had good sailing for most of the cruise with little more than one day of motor sailing. Made 300 miles in previous 48 hours, and at this rate they should be in to St Thomas by midday Sunday .

Blockage in the aft head has been corrected; they found a broken toilet seat fitting stuck in the head. No doubt it broke while a crewmember sat and hung on for dear life in rough sea conditions. As far as I know, the holding tank still requires pumpout using the jury-rigged deck setup.

They've also experienced battery charging problems, but have it under control and manageable. Also experienced damage to the dinghy carried on the stern arch. And a crewmember fell against a locker door in rough seas stoving in the door... Crewmember is ok; door is not.

Otherwise... All's well.

Anonymous said...

Greetings, Norfolk to St Thomas'08 crew,
Bob Hickey here do to work overload, just now catching up on your fantastic journey I was a member of the Bahamas to Norfolk crew last May aboard Celestial.
Congratulations and happy landings.
Thanks, Tom for the blogs so we can all follow their progress.
Posted 11-14,20:50

Anonymous said...

11-16-08

Good morning all - just had a cell phone call from my husband - Celestial is circling St. Thomas and anticipates being in the harbor mid-afternoon today.

All is well ...

Barbara Carlson

Captain Tom Tursi said...

Received this email from CELESTIAL at 0830 EST on Nov 16:

Cleared west end of Jost Van Dyke. Crew tired but happy with scenery & prospect of shower. J

all614 said...

Thank you Barbara! I wil head over to Crown Harbor in a few hours. It is gorgeous down here! There are coming in on a beautiful day...will give them a chance to dry out their gear.

Alison

Captain Tom Tursi said...

At Noon, CELESTIAL was approaching Current Cut between the E end of St Thomas and Great St James Island. I expect that they will arrive at crown Bay by 1330...

Captain Doug Miller said...

I tandem sailed with Celestial earlier this morning passing through Current Cut off the east end of STT. Met them on the dock at Crown Bay and took docklines around noon Sunday. All safe and well - the crew enjoyed a pleasant lunch and is headed to the showers. Celestial performed well and all aboard are fine and walking the dock with a smile.