Thank you all for your replies.
You have answered my question, but in some ways it is because I asked the wrong question because of my own ignorance. What I mean is this - I didn't know the definition of a lee shore was one that you couldn't sail away from. I thought that a lee shore was any shore to the lee, one you could sail away from or not sail away from. So my original question has to be rephrased.
So now what I really meant to ask was this ...
How do you know when something is about to become a lee shore ? Of course we are always in situations where there is a shore that is to leeward, I mean, it is impossible for me to go out on the Chesapeake Bay and not have a shore to leeward AND windward, however distant they might be. So when does it become a lee shore ? I mean, what are the variables involved ? It seems like wind speed is the primary one. In a gentle breeze you aren't going to get pushed closer to the shore, you can probably sail off of it. In a stronger breeze it gets harder, and in hurricane winds I guess it's impossible to make enough progress windward to avoid being pushed on to shore. That's really what I wanted to know .. how close is safe ? How do you know when you are getting into a situation that is going to get you into trouble ? Is the only requirement that you see that you are not making progress to windward and that you are being pushed towards a shore, or is that already too late ?
I'm trying to figure out what I need to be watching for, what I need to be thinking. Obviously I am going to be thinking, hey, I don't want my boat to end up on those rocks I see on the chart. But how do I know when that is going to be a possibility ? I mean I am going to have to sail past the rocks to get out of the bay and into the ocean for example, and they are to leeward, how do I know if I am going to be able to do it ? What should I be looking at ? What conditions make it more likely that it will end in ruin ?
Maybe it's like if you get mugged in the city. In hindsight you shouldn't have been down that alley, and you "knew" before you walked down it, and you "had some idea" before you even walked down the street that the alley was off of, and you "had a feeling" before you even went downtown, but you had to go downtown to see the movie! Is a lee shore something that by the time you figure out it's happening it's already too late to do anything about it ? Is it always a surprise ? That's what I'm trying to figure out, how to avoid getting into trouble in the first place, what I should be thinking and watching out for ?
You guys must be navigating the possibilities in your mind all the time, watching out for certain things, always mindful, searching the future for things that are going to get you into trouble. What are those things out in the uncertain future that you are watching out for ? What in your mind's eye raises alarms minutes, hours, or even days beforehand that save you from being put on the rocks ?
What are you pretending not to know ?
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Last edited by wind_magic; 10-13-2007 at 01:09 PM.