About Cold Fronts

1. In the Bahamas and other islands offshore, a cold front may come through like a fast moving brick wall of wind. One hour you may be swinging from the southwest on pre-frontal winds. Then the frontal winds may hit you from the north or north west at 40 knots or more, ripping up anchors.

2. When a front is coming and you’re anchored, always plan for the rapid shift and the initial strong gusts mentioned above. Sometimes this means deployment of two anchors, but we’ve found that in the vast majority of the times we’ve done fine on one as long as we had out a lot of chain (it’ll slowly drag along the bottom, minimizing the jerk) with a long well rigged nylon snubbing line, and as long as we were up on deck watching when the front comes through. If it’s bad, we have the engine running to be ready.

3. A second anchor may mean that you’ll end up with rodes twisted, making it very difficult to quickly up anchor if another boat comes barreling down on you as he drags.

4. Watch the shape of frontal lines (curved, northeast to southwest, east to west etc) to get a better idea of wind direction. What many call a “back door front” may bring initial winds from the northeast rather than the northwest.

5. If you see the line of frontal demarcation curling back on itself in one area, this often indicates a slowing of progress and/or development of a low pressure center on the front that could cause trouble

6. While out we get good weather by watching the national “Local on the 8s” segment of the Weather Channel (it shows national features—not local) from satellite TV using Follow Me TV (800 962 9020). We get analysis via email and from SSB from Chris Parker, chris@mwxc.com Marine Weather and Communications LLC. We’ve also used weather communications from Ocens (800 746 1462).

Go to www.tomneale.com for other tips and information

Copyright 2004-2010 Tom Neale


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