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Old 08-19-2013
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Re: how much experience do I need

"Question:?? How far Out do I have to sail to avoid the problems but still be close enough to take cover. "
There are stretches where you simply can't take cover. The east coast is not heavily peppered with safe inlets and harbors. Yes, there are many, but there are also long stretches where there are no inlets, or no safe inlets, and even the harbor patrol and USCG will not risk using them in bad weather.
So safe to duck in? Just not possible, you may need to read the weather two or three days ahead and make your decision based on that, then be able to stay out and ride it out if you are wrong.

Which brings up another point, solo sailing. Even Superman needs to sleep, and your error rate and possibly fatal mistakes literally doubles after 12 hours "on the job". If you stay offshore, sleeping on watch is arguably dangerous and definitely illegal. If you duck in for shelter, there are times places where you can't do that every day or night. Extended solo sailing, or compromising by taking on crew, needs to be considered.

How far offshore? Among other things, depends on the weather, which affects what directions you will sail in, and which hops you want to make in the shortest distance across, versus the closest distance to shore. You will need navigational skills, you will need to get comfortable with charts and plotting.

"What are the worst seas I can stay out in??" Kinda depends on you and the boat, and what breaks who first. In a 28' boat, eight foot seas and forty knot winds may wet your pants in more ways than one. But in the Atlantic, six to eight foot seas can easily be expected. You'd want to know that pilot charts exist, and how to read them, and the historical data from ocean buoys, to know what actually can be expected in different places and times. Not just what people tell you they've experienced.

Can a 28' boat be safe in that? Sure, but the ride may be exhausting. Read up, you'll find a number of people call for rescue, abandon ship, and the boat is found weeks or months later, perfectly intact until it runs ashore someplace. I'll be just as happy if I never have to ride out a hurricane at sea.
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