Located in the northeast trade wind belt, ihe Virgin Islands are blessed with almost perfect weather the year round. The seas from the north are broken by the island chain, providing the seafarer with ideal weather conditions.
Unlike that of most other parts of the world, the weather in the Virgin Islands is extremely stable. Forecasts are broadcast daily on most of the local stations:
St. Thomas: WIVI-FM 99.5 MHZ (forecasts at 7:30 and 8:30 a.m., 3:30 and 4:30 p.m., daily and hourly updates); WVWI1000 KHZ-AM; WAH (Virgin Islands radio) broadcasts the weather on VHF 16, switching to VHF 28 and 85 at 6 a.m., 2 and 10 p.m.
St. Croix: WSTX 970 KHZ-AM.
Tortola: ZBVI 780 KHZ-AM; ZROD-FM 103.7 (hourly, 9 a.m.-6p.m.).
St Croix: WSTX 970 KHZ-AM.
Puerto Rico: WOJO 1030 KHZ-AM, all day at 6 minutes past the hour. Excellent weather report and reception. English-speaking.
The tidal range throughout the Virgin Islands is about 12 inches, depending upon the time of year. You will probably be unaware of any fluctuation. However, you cannot rely upon the rising tide to float you off the odd sandbar. Currents in certain areas can reach 1-2 knots, namely through Pillsbury Sound between St. Thomas and St. John, the Durloe Cays in St. John, and in the narrows between St. John and Tortola.
During the winter months of November through April, any significant weather in the North Atlantic will produce heavy swells along the entire north coast of the Virgins several days later. These ground seas have little effect on vessels under sail, but can turn a normally tranquil anchorage into pounding surf. Most anchorages exposed to the north are prone to this phenomenon—choose your anchorage accordi ngly.
Owing to the northeast trade winds, the wind direction throughout the Virgins is dominated by the movements of the Bermuda High. During the winter months of November to January, the prevailing wind is from the northeast at 15-20 knots. The fabled Christmas Winds can produce 25-30 knots for several days at a time. By February, the winds start to move around to the east, and by June, they are blowing out of the southeast at 10-15 knots.
During September to October, the trade winds are weakest, and the weather can be less settled. Although these months are considered hurricane season, Hurricane Hugo was the first to hit in 50-odd years. By November, the high pressure system around Bermuda starts to stabilize and 15-20 knot breezes become the norm.
While late summer to fall is considered rainy season, rain squalls can come at any time of year. Be aware of approaching squalls by watching the sky and clouds to windward. If a dark squall is approaching, it probably has considerable wind velocity on the squall line, and the prudent skipper should shorten sail beforehand.
It also will give the crew a chance to arm themselves with soap and enjoy a good fresh-water shower.
It is a well-known fact that the Virgin Islands have fewer storms than does the Long Island Sound in New York. When the islands do experience a tropical storm or depression, it is usually in the early development of the storm centre, and the storms do not reach full intensity until they are north of the area. Should a storm approach the islands, remember that they travel very slowly; consequently, with the communication systems used today, sailors can be assured of at least 48 hours' warning.
And Now For The Good News
Was this article helpful?