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Selden 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Noonsite Ocean Outlook - Caribbean, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific

by Noonsite 1 Dec 2022 13:15 UTC
South Pacific Cyclone Season © Price and Gail (Benny) Powell

Pacific:

The South Pacific Cyclone Season officially began on November 1st. This year forecasters are predicting up to ten named tropical cyclones could occur in the Southwest Pacific, while Australia could experience an above average number of cyclones.

For those planning a 2023 Pacific crossing, take a look at the Oyster World Rally 2022-23 website, which has interesting live rally updates plus video overviews of all major passages, including the passage from Panama to French Polynesia and on to Fiji, with routing and weather advice.

Chuck and Lynda of SY Jacaranda (now SY Gulliver) continue to update their popular and incredibly useful cruising notes for French Polynesia (even though they are no longer cruising there!) with explanations of the long-stay visa process, shipping goods to FP and much more.

Remember if visiting Vanuatu, Port Vila, customs do not open at weekends, so if you arrive on Friday after 5pm expect to stay on your boat all weekend until they open the office again on Monday morning.

Following the armed attack on a yacht in Kandrian, New Britain, Papua New Guinea back in August, there has been some good security advice from fellow cruisers in PNG posted at the bottom of the report.

We overlooked mentioning Japan's full opening to foreign visitors on October 11th in our last newsletter, which is excellent timing for cruisers planning to visit Japan from April to June of next year, plus, with the weak Yen, boats in Japan are now reported to be very cheap.

Indian:

Many cruising boats are currently navigating the complex passage from Reunion to South Africa, crossing the difficult Agulhas Current which runs around the coast of SA. Interpreting the weather and deciding when to leave La Reunion can be tricky as yachts must have wind and current behind them to cope with this 60NM-wide ocean tidal flow. Our South Africa reports have lots of useful passage info.

Mayotte, lying in the Indian Ocean channel between Madagascar and Mozambique, is a wonderful stopover en-route to South Africa. Maryanne Webb has posted some useful feedback having spent some time there this year.

Heading to Richards Bay, South Africa? Bear in mind that as a result of a large storm some years back which destroyed or damaged many of the pontoons, Tuzi Gazi Marina has been slowly but surely closing down. Recently all pontoons have been removed and there is now a big open space where all incoming foreign boats have to tie up to the existing two jetty walls in order to be cleared into the country, before moving across to the Zululand Yacht Club.

Caribbean Sea:

Having crossed the Atlantic Ocean on their fossil-fuel-free vessel "Ya", Inge van Berkel and Peter Hoefnagel explored several Caribbean islands and countries on their way to Panama, including the Dominican Republic after a short stop in Martinique. They were surprised at how much Sargassum weed they encountered in the Caribbean Sea; "When there was a lot of weed, it was really unpleasant and dangerous because the weed clogs near the rudders and the keel, slowing the boat down and even altering its course in some cases. It is an immense problem for the Caribbean, because where the beaches are covered in Sargassum, tourists will leave and locals too as it's so unhealthy (we really saw that on Grenada!) It is an awful sight and when it lies there, rotting, it stinks - beyond description." Read Ya's own study and research into Sargassum weed. Maps and News of Sargassum blooms in the Atlantic and Caribbean and beaches that are impacted can be found here. Also view the Sargassum Information Hub.

Black Point, Bahamas, renowed for its a friendly locals and safe anchorage, saw a recent SSCA Gathering of cruisers supported by Lorraines café, with a BBQ, music and games on the beach. Lorraine also organises donations for local school children who are lacking in supplies, such as backpacks, pencils, notebooks, sports balls and musical instruments, and visiting cruisers are encouraged to bring whatever they can.

Panama agent Erick Galvez of Centenario & Co., reports that many small craft customers have been booking Panama Canal inspections during November and December to take advantage of the current transit tolls, which will increase as of January. He also reports that canal operations are working as usual and a high volume of sailors are expected between January through May 2023, with the heaviest arrivals (including rallies) being in the month of February, when usually there is a backlog of between 5-10 days.

For clearing into Panama, there is no Port Captain at Shelter Bay Marina anymore, therefore Port Authority check-in must be carried out in Colon city. At Linton Bay there is no weekend clearance as all offices are closed, and on the Pacific coast of Panama, Vista Mar Marina now has an immigration office close by.

The Caribbean Safety and Security Net (CSSN) have published their Annual Report for 2021 providing details and analysis of reported yacht crimes in the Caribbean, which saw a significant increase in total reported incidents during the year, up from the lows of 2020. One hot spot right now is Bequia in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where 4 (armed) burglaries have been reported to CSSN this last month. It is recommended to avoid this port unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to anchor here - be sure to anchor near other boats, keep someone on board at all times, move valuables out of sight, secure all entry points and keep the boat lit to deter boarders. It is believed the SVG Coast Guard has agreed to perform patrols starting Friday, December 2nd.

The Cuban government have made a positive move to extend tourist visas from 30 days to 90 days starting this month. This will come as a relief to cruisers as it means no more juggling time to the next visa offfice with weather windows.

The Ocean Prediction Center and the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch/National Hurricane Center are offering free webinars on winter weather for bluewater mariners. There are still places available:

  • North Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico: Wind and Wave Forecasts and Warnings
  • 2:00-3:00 PM EST, Monday, December 5th
  • Register here

  • Northeast Pacific: Wind and Wave Forecasts and Warnings
  • 2:00-3:00 PM EST, Tuesday, December 6th
  • Register here

Atlantic:

November is the final month of the official hurricane season and it started with Tropical Storm Martin becoming the seventh hurricane of the season in the North Atlantic and Hurricane Lisa making landfall in Belize. The simultaneous development of these systems was only the third time since 1900 that there have been two November hurricanes at the same time. Hurricane Nicole promptly followed crossing the same region in Florida devastated six weeks earlier by Hurricane Ian. Nicole's large size produced widespread heavy rainfall and strong winds across the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, and Florida.

ARC+ yachts have now started arriving in Grenada while over 100 yachts taking part in the ARC to St. Lucia are still mid-Atlantic. Both rallies set sail from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria earlier this month. Trade wind conditions have been solid, but rally participants have reported finding the sea state and big swells rather uncomfortable. A crew member on board British yacht Alika was badly injured following a sudden loss of steering and had to be evacuated.

A second orca-related yacht tragedy has occurred off the western Iberian peninsula. Following the loss of a family boat off Southern Portugal (Sines) in July, this month saw a yacht off Northern Portugal (Viana do Castelo) lose its rudder and sink. In both instances the crew were rescued, but sadly not the yachts. After more than two years of increased interactions between orcas and yachts along this coastline, questions are now being asked as to when this behaviour is going to be recognised and attempts made to put a stop to it. Yachting Monthly report this month that according to scientists this behaviour is expected to stop once the orca mature. The Atlantic Orcántic Working Group (GTOA) is asking the Spanish Government to consider providing financial compensation for sailing boats that are damaged as a result of orca interactions in Spanish waters.

Down in the South Atlantic, St. Helena are appealing to visiting yachts to take a little more care of the mooring field in Jamestown when they visit. All moorings have a pick-up line, however these can often be missing as sadly some departing yachts would rather cut away the pick-up line, than untie their ropes! The Harbor Master has to regularly replace these lines, which is costly and also poses a real health and safety issue for arriving yachts (especially if there are limited crew on board).

Mediterranean:

If you have left your boat in Croatia for the winter and are concerned about the expiration of the Navigation Fee (vignette) at the end of the year in your absence, don't worry. We have done some digging after being asked this question by a yacht owner who has done just that and had it confirmed that while the navigation fee may expire on the 31st December 2022, as long as the boat does not go sailing the 2023 payment does not have to be made until you return to the boat (whether it be in April or September). The fee always expires year end, so it makes no difference what month you pay as long as it's paid prior to going sailing. Bear in mind however that as the season gets going, harbor master offices (where you pay the fee) do get busier, so paying in the off-season months will always be easier and quicker.

Croatia expects to become a member of the Schengen zone at the start of 2023, and will adopt the Euro, therefore it will no longer be a possible bolt-hole to get out of Schengen for those yachts doing the Schengen Shuffle.

If you are currently wintering in the Med, let us know where and share a review, so we can supplement our accumulation of cruisers reports from favourite wintering spots in the Med.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of noonsite.com

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