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Old 04-25-2002
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Coastal Vs. Blue water

Blue water and Coastal are in the mind of the beholder. I have heard all kinds of decriptions of what is or what isn''t ''blue water''. The reality is that this is one of those nebulous terms that gets bandied about and really has taken on a life of its own.

I really do recall even hearing that term used very much until fairly recently. When I was a kid the term that you heard more frequently was ''offshore'', which seemed to be anywhere out of sight of land. I really don''t like the term blue-water sailing or blue water very much because it is so imprecise but seems to get held up as a magic charm or incantation that can ward off all each sailor''s personal brand of malevolencies.

If you spend any time talking to sailors of all stripes, you find that there is a wide range of opinions about what is a suitable offshore boat, and when a blue-water boat is required. For example, All kinds of boats make the passage across the Gulfstream to the Bahamas. You''d be amazed at the junk that used to make that passage prety much without instruments back in the 1960''s and 1970''s. But you can really get your head handed to you if things act up in the ''Stream.

So some folks say, you don''t need no stinking ''blue water'' boat to sail to the Bahamas and others insist you are suicidal to make the passage on anything less than a fully found bluse water boat.

A few years back, there was a food fight on this forum between myself and another fellow about using a particular brand of especially avoir du pois challenged ''blue water cruiser'' on the Chesapeake. The original question started with, should I buy a ''Lead Bobber 37'' or a ''Valuepacked 42'' to sail in the Chesapeake.

I basically told the original poster that the Valuepacked was fine for the Chesapeake and that the Lead Bobber was really a motorsailor with a mast when used on the Bay. This sent a fellow poster round the bend. Essentially an owner of one these dreadnaughts felt that I was ignoring the real hazzards of sailing the Chesapeake in anything less than one of these "go anywhere" bohemoths.

He wasn''t right but he wasn''t entirely wrong either. He cited the example of one of the big blows that can come up quickly on the Bay (I got to sail my Laser 28 in 65 knot winds)and the sometimes large floating debris. Paraphrasing his words, he went on to say that he did not mind motoring for most of the summer in order to keep his family safe. For him, the Chesapeake required a ''blue water boat'' and if that is what he judged to be necessary for his enjoyment and sense of security, then he is not wrong (at least for his own boat).

By the same token, back in the 1970''s I knew a guy who had sailed from Australia to Dinner Key in Florida in a rotted out old plywood boat with plywood patches nailed with ring nails over the worst holes. He said he just hopped from place to place rarely at sea for more than a couple days and so to him none of it was really offshore sailing.


Jeff
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