Offshore Definitions per C Guard - SailNet Community

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Old 05-15-2007
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Offshore Definitions per C Guard

One of the great debates amongst sailors. I just read a definition today from the Coast Guard that I will start using:

Coastal: 1-24 miles offshore.

Offshore: 25-199 miles offshore.

High Seas: 200+ miles offshore.

I can see some justification to this. At about 24 miles or so, you lose VHF (at least, in theory, huh?). At 200 miles, you are a solid 24 hours from land in a typical sailboat. Of course, this all depends on boat type, etc... I am not trying to start up a debate on NM/day... just generalizing.

Thoughts?? I like their definitions. So, what would blue water be? Hmm, maybe somewhere between offshore and high seas? Just high seas?

- CD
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Old 05-15-2007
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I can see the logic in what they are saying, but it's more related to jurisdiction, rather than sea state. 200 NM is, to my knowledge, the limit of territorial waters and thus the CG's bailiwick. (although I've heard they are taking liberties under the guise of surpressing liberties of late in this regard).

I can buy that coastal is 25-50 NM out (VHF plus an eight-hour run by, say, a 30 footer in modest air), but that coastal has to be considered in the context of islands, barrier or otherwise, shoals, and the continental shelf itself. Some cite the 100 fathom line as "offshore", by that standard.

Also, coastal Patagonia is a little different than coastal Nova Scotia. Context is everything, as are element like fetch, sloping of the bottom, and current and tidal effects. Sometimes you need a "bluewater" grade of boat to handle some "coastal" waters, which can be very fierce indeed.
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May blue water be forever found in the eye of the beholder. The definitions are useful and meaningful but like the sea, ever changing.
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Old 05-15-2007
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"Sometimes you need a "bluewater" grade of boat to handle some "coastal" waters, which can be very fierce indeed"

The Great Lakes are considered inland waterways and yet there are times you need "bluewater" grade (and then some) to handle them.

CD- Seems as good a place to draw the line as any.
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Old 05-15-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickBowman
May blue water be forever found in the eye of the beholder.

Aye, and may we all be beholding regardless of where we sail
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Old 05-16-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T34C
"Sometimes you need a "bluewater" grade of boat to handle some "coastal" waters, which can be very fierce indeed"

The Great Lakes are considered inland waterways and yet there are times you need "bluewater" grade (and then some) to handle them.

CD- Seems as good a place to draw the line as any.
That was more or less my point. I have been told more than once that if I can sail in a Lake Erie or Ontario summer line squall or extended spring or fall blow, it's pretty good practice for the open ocean, given that while Great Lakes 'heavy weather' rarely exceeds more than a few hours in duration, the ferocity of the particular type of 'seas' we get here can make for quite challenging sailing. Certainly, I've shot 10,000 lbs. of boat off seven foot waves here and sustained 30 knots of wind, but the waves are very closely packed and just produce a "washing machine" effect that is taxing to safety helm through.

We had 55 knot winds around Toronto last night, along with probable tornadoes, hail and a few inches of rain. I have no idea what it was like on the lake, but judging from what I could see belting across the sky, I suspect a triple-reefed main would've taken you most of the way to the far end last night.

EDIT: On this link Current Weather Conditions at the Outer Harbour Marina, Toronto Ontario you'll see in the upper right yellow data crawl that this year's top wind speed for Toronto Outer Harbour is nearly 84 knots. If that doesn't produce blue water conditions, I'm not sure what will... I believe that was the storm that knocked down the cradled boats I posted last month.

Last edited by Valiente; 05-16-2007 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 05-16-2007
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A boatbuilders definition would be somewhat different.
A 'blue water' boat would have inherent/redundant strength at 5-6 times of the 'normal service design'. 'Coastal design' at about 3 times safety factor. 'Inshore design' at twice the inbuilt strength (safety factor).

Inotherwords a design-specific 'blue water' boat would be built at a minimum twice as strong as a 'coastal' design and 3 times as strong as an 'inshore' design.
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Hi Rich,

Interesting definition... but what is the normal service design?? Or is that the million dollar question!! (smile).

- CD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichH
A boatbuilders definition would be somewhat different.
A 'blue water' boat would have inherent/redundant strength at 5-6 times of the 'normal service design'. 'Coastal design' at about 3 times safety factor. 'Inshore design' at twice the inbuilt strength (safety factor).

Inotherwords a design-specific 'blue water' boat would be built at a minimum twice as strong as a 'coastal' design and 3 times as strong as an 'inshore' design.
In that case, my boat is a blue water boat!!! As it is 5 times stronger.

I still wouldn't cross the Atlantic on it!!! Or mine does not count?
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