How Does the Gulf Stream Influence our Weather?

Part 1. All the world’s great currents have a say in the weather that will fill your sails. If you operate anywhere on the east coast, you’ll want to know and understand the mighty river of seawater flowing beneath your keel.


“Big High, Blue Sky, Goodbye…” All you need to get started, right?

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Rodger Lomas
Rodger Lomas has enjoyed an eclectic career path that includes journeyman mechanic and a stint in the Navy. He is just wrapping up an over three-decade career as an Air Traffic Specialist - where meteorology commands centerstage. He is currently based in Nanaimo, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, where he pursues a lifetime exploration of these cherished waters– and likes to boast he’s the world’s worst fisherman. Rod has a myriad of interests in travel, language, and culture.


  1. Late November 1977. Heading to Antigua from Cape May, NJ. Crossing the Gulf Stream, ran into 100 mph winds, 50′ seas. Knocked off the bow pulpit, cracked the boom, broke the skipper’s arm. Hove-to under storm jib for thirty hours. Ended up in Bermuda ….

  2. I helped a friend return to CT on his 39 ft. Carter after the Newport – Bermuda race many years ago. He intended to sleep most of the way home and assigned me to be captain, as I also owned a 39 Carter. I brought another seasoned sailor as well as 2 other crew who wanted to get some experience. We knew we were going to hit a squall on the way. It ended up ~40 hours of 40 knot winds & 40 ft. seas. The owner awoke to help out, but the 2 new crew got seasick and I learned why the Race requires a 2nd forestay as the winds were on the port quarter and our bow plowed into every wave. The boat and all the crew survived.

  3. My worst weather experience at sea was on Exuma Sound in the Bahamas. We were in a Selene 53 (85,000 pound trawler yacht) headed from the Exuma Cays to Emerald Bay Marina on the east coast of Great Exuma Island. It was mid-summer. We entered the Sound with winds 15 knots from the SSE (pretty typical for this time and place) and the sky thickly clouded but not dark (a bit cloudier than usual for this time and place, where typical weather is isolated cumulonimbus “cells” bringing heavy, but brief & local, thundershowers). We had a blue water run of about 30 NM from the southernmost deep-water cut off the Bahama Bank, to Emerald Bay, in a well-enclosed basin. When we were about half way along the leg, the wind suddenly rose to 30 knots and then to 55 knots (according to the boat’s Airmar ultrasonic anemometer) and seas rose to a very steep 12 feet. All we could do was to throttle back, barely maintaining steerage-way, & to steer into the seas until the wind dropped. A lot of green water came over the bow and sluiced down the side decks. After about half an hour, the wind dropped, & the seas soon fell to a level (8 feet it seemed) where we could resume our coarse toward Emerald Bay. I believe two things saved us from a much worse experience: First, the boat had Naiad hydraulic fin stabilizers, and they significantly reduced the vessel’s roll, especially upon resuming our course toward Emerald Bay, which put the seas on our port bow. Second, at the beginning of every season when the boat was in the yard, we had a fuel polishing service drain all the fuel from both our tanks, polish it, and returned it, and we then filled the tanks in the yard from a tank truck with good filtration; thus, no there was no sludge in the tanks to get stirred and choke off fuel to the engine. If the engine had died, we could well have foundered. I should add that the Selene 53 turned out to be a pretty good boat in an extreme head sea.

  4. I’ve had the good fortune to sail safely to and from the VIs to Bermuda to Newport 6 times in the last four years. It all comes down to planning your route and checking weather well ahead of the trip and throughout the voyage. When in doubt at all then stay in port until it is reasonable to go. That said the weather can change quickly especially up the East Coast of the USA. So, prepare for the worst scenario and hope for the best. Safe passages to all!