Getting to and from, Sable Island safely by marine transportation has always been historicially difficult, but not impossible. The "Graveyard of the Atlantic", has a fierce reputation for being a marine disaster zone. That reputaion has been earned honestly, as over 300 ship wrecks can be found in the vicinity of the island shores, and parts litter the beaches. The bones of thousands of unlucky passengers, and crews lie somewhere close.
Sable Island is located in the North Atlantic Ocean, 157nm (180sm) East from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and 136nm (156sm) South of Sydney, Nova Scotia. It is best decribed as cresent shaped sand bar, approximately 42km long by 1.5km at its widest point. Perched on the edge of the continental shelf it is approximately 50 miles, North of the warm water current, known as the Gulf Stream. This current flows from the gulf of Mexico up the East coast of North America, then across the Atlantic, then South past Ireland and Europe. To the North of Sable Island, lies the cold Labrador Sea current, that flows South.
The meteorological conditions are primarily influenced by this confluence of warm and cold water, in the vicinity. The position of the Jet Stream, is normally also fairly fixed, in relation to the island's location. Fog is the number one weather condition, Advection Fog is caused when warm air (mT) flows over cold water, and the moisture in the air condenses. Fog can occur year round. The majority of Low pressure weather systems bring High winds, which influence the ocean surface (wave action) from hundreds of miles away. Precipitation along weather fronts usually arrives horizontally in the wind. In the summer Hurricanes normally track along the east coast, and pass in the vicinity of Sable Island. In the winter Nor'easters, bring high winds, rain and wet snow, mixed with blown
sand. Weather Bombs can develope in the Atlantic without warning, and hit the island with disasterous effects.
Sable Island marine operations can be challenging, even for professional seamen. For many years the Canadian Coast Guard ships, have resupplied the island operators, via vertical helicopter replentishment, and delivered vehicles to the beach, with a Landing Craft (LCT). Delays caused by weather conditions have been a regular issue. The Polar Star was the last major cruise ship, to visit successfully. A specialist ship, with an experienced crew that was used to operating in difficult conditions. Operating in light Sable Island surf, with a large beach crew, they found it wet and challenging to receive, turn, unload, load, and re-launch zodiaks safely.
Other less sophisticated commercial tour operators, have tried to deliver individuals to the island, only to be stymied by the normal wave action and surf conditions. Some retrivial efforts have been truly physical and frightening. Inexperience, unexpected conditions, under-equipped, and unprepared, are a recipy for disaster.
The most cautious visitors, and successful vessels, have been private yacths. Without hard and fixed deadlines, they have the ability to pick and choose departure times, to arrive when the safest weather, and surf conditions have been expected. Without a doubt the most consistant, and safest marine transportation group.