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post #7 of Old 12-28-2013
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Re: How much wave/swell is too much?

Originally Posted by Pearson796 View Post
We have a Pearson 30 which is considered a tender boat.

It's 30' with a 9.5' beam.

At what point would waves/swell become uncomfortable and/or dangerous for a boat this size?

We dealt with some big breaking waves on Lake Michigan, but they were very close together and I have no idea how big they were. We had a "crisis" at the time and wave height determination was the least of my worries at the time.

Anyway, at what point is it a very bad idea to be on the ocean?

I asked this because I just ran across the article where 5 vessels got into trouble in 8' waves offshore. That doesn't seem very big to me.

Can someone educated me a little?
Our prior yacht was a 1976 Cal 2-29 which is very similar to your Pearson in size and displacement that we sailed all over heck's half acre for 20+ years. On the west coast from San Francisco to as far south Ensenada, Mexico and later in South Florida from Ft. Lauderdale to Tampa and between. While the boat was (relatively) light, I did not consider her unduly tender, particularly once heeled down to about 20. The only time we had difficulty with her sea-keeping ability was in short steep waves with heavy head winds. She could/would hold her own but with a deeply reefed main and a scrap of headsail had difficulty making headway unless one bore off on somewhat of a reach, only luffing up momentarily when cresting a wave but quickly bearing away to ride down the back of the wave at an angle with the lee hull "surfing" on the wave face to avoid crashing down and pounding. It was doable but quite exhausting and progress was quite slow if one's destination was to windward. Closely spaced waves much over 10-15 feet combined with winds much over 20-22 knots became a trial and, when confronted with that combination, often led us to retire to shelter and wait for a more favorable weather window.

Once, attempting to sail from Long Beach, Ca., to Newport Beach, we were confronted with a rare (for the area) southerly gale which built up a terrific sea just off the end of the stone jetty into Alamitos Bay. It took us 3+ hours to get as far as the oil platform off of Sunset Beach all the while beating up the boat and my (much) better half, a VMG of all of about 1 knt. Abreast the platform, my wife announced that if we did not abandon the effort, she intended to swim ashore (and likely file for divorce). With that, we came about and made it back to the shelter of the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club (3 miles or so) in all of about 30 minutes, reportedly leaving a "rooster tail" as we transited down the channel between the jetties (according to the bar flies at the Club once we arrived). The wind veered overnight and the next day we made the transit to Newport, about 16 miles, in a tad over 2-1/2 hours.


"It is not so much for its beauty that the sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."
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