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post #1 of 14 Old 08-17-2013 Thread Starter
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Question about Eldridge and The Race

I frequently read that the best time to hit The Race is at slack.

So if Eldridge lists flood current starting at (for example) 4:44 a.m., max flood at 2 hours and 45 minutes after flood starts (so, 7:30 a.m.), and ebb starting at 10:40 a.m., does that mean that slack is from 7:30 a.m. to 10:40 a.m.? Of course all of these times are approximate in real life.

Thanks.

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post #2 of 14 Old 08-17-2013
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Re: Question about Eldridge and The Race

No, the periods of slack water are pretty brief, there...

Your best bet is to simply look at the tidal current charts printed in Eldridge, immediately following the Current Tables for The Race... The times of slack water at the Race happen to roughly coincide with the beginning of both the flood, and the ebb, at that point...

Last edited by JonEisberg; 08-17-2013 at 08:45 AM.
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post #3 of 14 Old 08-17-2013
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Re: Question about Eldridge and The Race

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Originally Posted by cthoops View Post
I frequently read that the best time to hit The Race is at slack.

So if Eldridge lists flood current starting at (for example) 4:44 a.m., max flood at 2 hours and 45 minutes after flood starts (so, 7:30 a.m.), and ebb starting at 10:40 a.m., does that mean that slack is from 7:30 a.m. to 10:40 a.m.? Of course all of these times are approximate in real life.

Thanks.
Jon is correct, the period of actual slack is rather brief and odds are it will not happen at the exact time in Eldridge. All things considered, Eldridge is very accurate but not perfect.

Power boaters may prefer slack because they are less concerned about current than sailors and slack is less choppy.

Like most sailors, you probably sail as much as you can before turning on the engine. That means that you might end up traveling at 4 knots or 7 knots, depending on the wind. You need to give yourself at least an hour before slack because if you are late you will hit the flood and be sailing backwards

To answer your question more, it really depends on what direction you are headed and the weather.

You may want to transit the race and the sounds with the current. The more current you have the faster you will sail.

If you have strong headwinds and a destination to get to then you may want to motor. In this case you want to be closer to slack but still have the current with you. This reduces the amount of current against the wind. At max ebb/flood it can get pretty harsh under these conditions.

If you are exiting LIS and heading back East then you want to try and time the race close to the end of the ebb tide. This will allow you to ride the tide out of the sound and through the race. As the flood begins you will ride that back East.

Coming from or headed back to Noank, I always plan on hitting the Race, the Gut, Watch Hill, Wiccopesset, etc. at Max current (unless I'm headed towards Shelter Island or coming from that direction). This gives me a couple hours to spare one way or the other.

The bonus is; if it's a nice day and you are making hull speed you break the sound barrier if you have max current with you. You won't hear the sonic boom, but they will.

YMMV

Rob

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Last edited by RobGallagher; 08-17-2013 at 09:27 AM.
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post #4 of 14 Old 08-17-2013
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Re: Question about Eldridge and The Race

Cthoops
Robs answer covers going threw the race nicely. The times that you will experience the roughest waters is when you have opposing wind and current.

Peter
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Re: Question about Eldridge and The Race

Ah, this information makes a lot more sense. Sailnet is really such a great resource, especially to newbies.

Our plan is to sail around Fishers Island on Monday the 19th (our first time and our longest sail ever), and the winds are projected to be from the southwest. We know either heading out or coming in we'll be fighting a foul current for part of the way, and since we're coming out of Groton we figured we'd get the Race out of the way first.

So looking at the charts and the tables in Eldridge and taking into account the southwest wind, we're thinking we should hit The Race 5 hours after flood starts (approximately 9:44 a.m.). Then we can ride the ebb down the outside of the island, suck it up through Lords Passage (Wicopesset looks way too narrow for our comfort zone), duck into East Harbor to have some lunch and get rid of the last of the ebb, and then hopefully ride the flood back to Groton.

Does any of this look like a recipe for disaster?

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post #6 of 14 Old 08-17-2013
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Re: Question about Eldridge and The Race

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Originally Posted by cthoops View Post
Ah, this information makes a lot more sense. Sailnet is really such a great resource, especially to newbies.

Our plan is to sail around Fishers Island on Monday the 19th (our first time and our longest sail ever), and the winds are projected to be from the southwest. We know either heading out or coming in we'll be fighting a foul current for part of the way, and since we're coming out of Groton we figured we'd get the Race out of the way first.

So looking at the charts and the tables in Eldridge and taking into account the southwest wind, we're thinking we should hit The Race 5 hours after flood starts (approximately 9:44 a.m.). Then we can ride the ebb down the outside of the island, suck it up through Lords Passage (Wicopesset looks way too narrow for our comfort zone), duck into East Harbor to have some lunch and get rid of the last of the ebb, and then hopefully ride the flood back to Groton.

Does any of this look like a recipe for disaster?
I think your timing is off. Leaving from Groton, in daylight, you should not have to hit foul current at either end. In fact, you should have fair current both at ends if you time it right. Look at the chart in Eldridges that shows the direction and strength of the current hour by hour.

The current outside of Fisher's, in deeper water is not so strong and less of a concern.

I don't have the yellow book in front of me, however, if the flood starts at 9:44AM my plan would be to leave Groton around 8AM. Ride the ebb out through the race and out to deeper water. Fisher's is seven miles long, even tacking you should make it from one end to the other in 3-4 hours. this allows you 2-3 hours back to Groton on the flood.

The following is personal preference:
Look at Lords and Wiccopesset on the chart. The Wiccopesset is narrower but less confusing. You have land on one side and a visible reef on the other; Stay in the middle and you are fine. The flood will push you East. It tends to funnel through Wiccopesset. Lords will push you through but also East towards the reef and rocks. I'm going by memory here so be sure to check the chart in Eldridges.

Finally, go with whatever makes you feel comfortable as long as you keep your wits about you Lords is just as good as the others.

You are going to have a great day!

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Re: Question about Eldridge and The Race

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Originally Posted by RobGallagher View Post
I think your timing is off. Leaving from Groton, in daylight, you should not have to hit foul current at either end. In fact, you should have fair current both at ends if you time it right. Look at the chart in Eldridges that shows the direction and strength of the current hour by hour.

The current outside of Fisher's, in deeper water is not so strong and less of a concern.

I don't have the yellow book in front of me, however, if the flood starts at 9:44AM my plan would be to leave Groton around 8AM. Ride the ebb out through the race and out to deeper water. Fisher's is seven miles long, even tacking you should make it from one end to the other in 3-4 hours. this allows you 2-3 hours back to Groton on the flood.

The following is personal preference:
Look at Lords and Wiccopesset on the chart. The Wiccopesset is narrower but less confusing. You have land on one side and a visible reef on the other; Stay in the middle and you are fine. The flood will push you East. It tends to funnel through Wiccopesset. Lords will push you through but also East towards the reef and rocks. I'm going by memory here so be sure to check the chart in Eldridges.

Finally, go with whatever makes you feel comfortable as long as you keep your wits about you Lords is just as good as the others.

You are going to have a great day!
Thanks for the tips, Rob! I'm a bit nervous about the Race and Lords/Wicopesset, but the rest of it should be a lot of fun.

We want to sail to Block and Newport next month on vacation so we figured this would be a good trip to continue to build our skills and confidence.

Thanks again.

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post #8 of 14 Old 08-17-2013
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Re: Question about Eldridge and The Race

It's pretty difficult to hit slack water in The Race. The water doesn't stay slack for long and, as you mentioned, Eldridge is just an estimate which can miss by quite a lot. Much of the data around that entire area was obtained many years ago and has not been checked since. I've noticed BIG variations.

One thing to think about when transiting long stretches of current going with you is that when the boat speed=water speed, steering disappears. I've had this weird sensation happen through there on a couple of occasions. It feels as if your rudder has dropped off! So, if sailing with current in light wind, it may become necessary to fire up the iron genny until you pass through the swiftest current.

Make sure you look at the rotary current graphic in Eldridge and the current graphics for the area. They are very informative.

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Last edited by smurphny; 08-17-2013 at 02:44 PM.
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Re: Question about Eldridge and The Race

Notice what happens to your depth sounder in that are is going through if there is current. I've seen it vary all over the place, even show a frightening 6 feet when going through the tidal rips. It must be a water temperature-layer thing, but right where it's deep the waveslook like it's shallow (wind against tide probably), and then your depth guage agrees. A bit disconcerting.

Regards,
Brad

P.S. We used to spearfish the race in the area that comes up to about 25 feet depth -- Valiant reef. Good striped bass in there. While holding onto a rock, my snorkel would bang against my head, from the current. We didn't spearfish during max current, too wild. One time I dropped down deeper than usual in a different spot and found a big antique anchor. It's still there, I'm sure. I sometimes think about going back for it.

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Last edited by Bene505; 08-17-2013 at 08:29 PM.
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Re: Question about Eldridge and The Race

And then as soon as you have it all figured out this happens:
Navigation puzzle
Then you go on sailnet and ask why and know one knows.

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