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  #1  
Old 01-12-2014
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learning about waves...

My wife and I are leaving for two week sailing trip. All coastal cruising. We have a coronado 45. I am wondering what size waves should I consider to rough. I've only been in 4 to 6 ft waves. We have no time frame so we can stay in protected areas if we need to. At what point should we not go out? Tell me your thoughts. I'm trying to learn about waves
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Old 01-12-2014
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Re: learning about waves...

Anything more than 30' high would probably be more than you'd want to handle. The tops of such waves would be well above your spreaders with you straight up & down in the trough. Four to six foot waves would barely come up to your deck level. Too much depends upon the direction you're heading, the direction of the waves, and how far apart they are to give much more specific advice about what's "too rough". Get more experience by going out and seeing what you can handle. Head to more protected water if it's too much. You're the skipper, so YOU have to decide. If you're not ready to make such decisions, hire a captain or don't go out.
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Old 01-12-2014
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Re: learning about waves...

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Old 01-12-2014
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Re: learning about waves...

I avoid gale force winds, if possible.
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Old 01-12-2014
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Re: learning about waves...

Quote:
Originally Posted by boknows View Post
My wife and I are leaving for two week sailing trip. All coastal cruising. We have a coronado 45. I am wondering what size waves should I consider to rough. I've only been in 4 to 6 ft waves. We have no time frame so we can stay in protected areas if we need to. At what point should we not go out? Tell me your thoughts. I'm trying to learn about waves
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and the size you want to avoid before venturing from safe harbours.

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Old 01-13-2014
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Re: learning about waves...

It's not just about the waves, which is why many use the Beaufort Scale as a means of determining the conditions out on the water;
At any rate, I'm sure the boat can handle a great deal rougher conditions than her crew would be comfortable in, so that might be the determining factor for you.
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Old 01-13-2014
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Re: learning about waves...

Have others heard of a rule of thumb (at least in the ocean) that says to avoid waves that are the same height as the period? For example, you would get breaking waves at 8 feet of wave height and 8 second intervals, but at 15 feet and 20 seconds, the boat should be able to ride through the peaks and troughs though it could still be uncomfortable. The Gulf may not follow this because it's enclosed and the waves can get pretty confused. For the OP, you can find wave height and period at NOAA's offshore buoys (National Data Buoy Center). I clicked on several, but Station 42039 was the only one I found that collects this data.
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Old 01-13-2014
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Re: learning about waves...

Quote:
Originally Posted by paulk View Post
Anything more than 30' high would probably be more than you'd want to handle. The tops of such waves would be well above your spreaders with you straight up & down in the trough. Four to six foot waves would barely come up to your deck level. Too much depends upon the direction you're heading, the direction of the waves, and how far apart they are to give much more specific advice about what's "too rough". Get more experience by going out and seeing what you can handle. Head to more protected water if it's too much. You're the skipper, so YOU have to decide. If you're not ready to make such decisions, hire a captain or don't go out.
agree
although i have to say, that if the going gets tough, i would seek clear water ahead of me and not a shelter where the waves threaten to smash my boat against some nasty rocks...
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Old 01-13-2014
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Re: learning about waves...

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Originally Posted by paulk View Post
Anything more than 30' high would probably be more than you'd want to handle.
Anything more than THIRTY FEET ???

Uhhh, gee, 'ya think? ;-)

I'm a wimp, I suppose, but I find it hard to imagine any circumstance where I would EVER consider leaving a harbor or protected waters, into the ocean in anything REMOTELY close to such conditions...

Hell, last time we saw such seas off the Jersey coast, was the night that Hurricane Sandy came ashore... :-) And, there are precious few inlets or harbor entrances anywhere along the length of either coast of the US that I'd care to attempt in seas even half of that size...

But, that's probably just me... :-)
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Old 01-13-2014
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Re: learning about waves...

Swell vs. waves is a good thing to consider and start to understand. A 15' long period swell might be nothing (kind of an enjoyable up and down to your sailing) 15' waves are another thing entirely. 15' waves that are breaking are plenty big enough to roll your boat. If you are simply looking at data, the way you tell the difference between swells and waves is mostly the "wave period" although some NOAA bouys characterize wave steepness.

Something I didn't really appreciate until I'd had first hand experience with it a couple years ago was the significance of multiple wave patterns. We left on a passage with an old and diminishing tropical depression stalled 800 miles to the east. That produced 10-12 rolling swells from the east that were hardly noticeable by themselves. However when winds associated with a arriving cold front began building, we had building waves out of the south that piled up on top of the swell. The first day of this was almost enjoyable as it sometimes felt like you were sailing up a mountain -- and we'd occasionally get views down into the valleys -- while never really facing a steep or regular wave pattern. However, by the time that front was near, the wind waves were maybe 12-15' and very steep with some breaking crests and an occasional wave which seemed ridiculously large.

A third issue arose when the front passed and the winds shifted we then had steep waves from entirely different directions. That was a boat handling challenge but also provided some amazing shows when the steeper waves with breaking crests would crash into each other and towers of white water would shoot into the air. Truly awesome site -- and thankfully it never happened too close to us. There is a lot to learn -- truly an endless amount. I am no expert, but those are some of the things I hadn't fully appreciated until I'd experienced them.

I would schedule your sailing windows for forecast weather and condition in which you are comfortable. The forecast errors will give you more than enough opportunity to expand that comfort zone and show you a wider range of conditions.
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