Join Date: Jun 2006
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There's also the random factors of the sea state or which side of the cyclonic low you are on (to use a typical example). If you are close to a rapidly deepening low with a steep pressure gradient, but are travelling AWAY from both wind and system direction, you might just get a hatful of wind without well-developed or breaking seas, because the wave trains haven't established themselves. You can use that wind to vector away from steeper waves at hull speed...the "short, sharp" approach.
If you are on the wrong side of a hurricane, or at the tail end of a filling-in depression, you can get little wind with confused or irregular waves that can oppose the wind ...the "washing machine" effect.
I would much rather have more wind and less waves than loads of confused, breaking waves and not enough wind to keep the boat from flailing side to side for hours. I would deal with those situations in fairly different ways, I think, and part of that would depend on state of crew, state of fatigue and state of gear.