A Brief Glimpse Into The Gulf Stream

Anybody going to Bermuda?

One of the aspects of distance sailing that truly interests me is navigation.  And although Abilyn will not be sailing to Bermuda in 2015, I'm still very much drawn to how the ever-changing Gulf Stream current is shaping up for this year's Bermuda 1-2 competitors, and how it will impact the course to Bermuda.  For the uninitiated, Frank Bohlen of the University of Connecticut provides a great primer on the Gulf Stream here.  It's definitely worth a read.  

Frank, and anybody else with experience navigating to Bermuda, will advise that the prudent navigator studies the Stream's evolution months in advance to develop the most optimal strategy for crossing the thermal boundary.  To that end, I created the video below, which compiles NOAA images of near-realtime satellite altimetry derived surface currents based on the OCCAM XBT model for the period of February 2, 2015, through April 11, 2015--spaced out in 4-day increments.  In my view, the altimetry data provided by NOAA is one of friendlier ways to observe the changes in the Gulf Stream.

You can clearly see in the video the development and movement of various eddies in and around the main stream feature.  Some of the more interesting features, at least to me, include the large meander shown in the February 18 image located west of the rhumb line, which appears to bring the Stream nearly back on itself for about 200 miles (to the SW); and the eddy-ridden region west of the rhumb line in the March 26 image, which appears to show no semblance of a major stream feature.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing how the Stream develops in the 53 days between now and the start of the Bermuda 1-2.  For comparison, here's how the Stream looked around June 19, 2014, for the start of the Newport-Bermuda Race versus how the stream looked around April 11, 2015.