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05-08-2002 05:22 PM
heavy weather????

Consider if you will, San Francisco bay. The norm for a day on the bay are 18-25, and if it''s 10 mph more in "the slot" That said, the wave height isn''t all that great, but the current is awsome, only to be outdone by the inland passage. We sailed a 30'' Bristol an 30-35''s with a jib and reefed main, but sail our 36 ft magellan in 5-7 ft seas with a full load [on the sea trial we sailed her with main, mizzen and 150 in 25 mph, and didn''t put her gunnels in the water. {that said she is a heavy full keel blue water boat} Thus, it''s truly the captain''s experience, and knowledge and the state of equipment that make the difference. By the way. we took the 150 off the Magellan, and she trucks along in low 20''s at a respectable hull speed of almost 8 kts, and on her feet. with out all that weather helm that wears one out.
The secret, as taught by my sailing mentor,.."REEF EARLY".

05-03-2002 05:42 AM
heavy weather????

I take an additional precaution: I try not to be worth more to my wife dead than alive.

(strictly tongue-in-cheek folks - it''s Friday)
05-03-2002 04:34 AM
heavy weather????

I agree 100%. Wear life jackets all the time. Experienced sailors know that you really never know when you are going overboard, it is really that simple. I now wear an inflatable with harness even though I only clip on when it gets nasty.
05-03-2002 03:11 AM
heavy weather????

Here''s something that should remind everyone to remember basic safety rules.

A fisherman died last Sunday morning in Great South Bay, NY when a wave knocked him off his boat into 10 feet of 52 degree water about 2000 feet from shore. Wind was reportedly up to 28 mph. His friend on board was able to grab him but unable to get him onto the boat. They didn''t have life jackets. They did have a handheld VHF, and issued a distress call. The coast guard was 12 miles away and launched a rigid hulled inflatable within 2 minutes of the call and made it there in 22 minutes, but they were unable to save the man''s life.

An odd twist to this tale is that the local paper carried a front page story two days later criticizing the Suffolk Marine police for not responding faster. The Suffolk Marine base was just 4.6 miles away, but only one officer was on duty at the time of the call, 8am. They have 38-foot boats with an opening in the transom that makes it easy to bring people out of the water, but the boat ideally needs a crew of 3. When a second officer came in near 9, they went out anyway, but it took them 33 minutes to go the 4.6 miles to the scene.(The 1am-9am shift has more officers for the summer season, beginning 2 weeks before Memorial Day.)

I thought the newspaper''s slam against the marine police was odd because both fishermen were experienced boaters, and still chose to go out in stormy conditions without life jackets. Sometimes the result of foolish behavior is the ultimate penalty. It was just a few years ago that Eric Tabarly, a world famous sailor who never wore a lifejacket, was washed overboard and drowned.

With automatically inflating suspender style lifejackets, there''s no excuse for going without one. We have to be able to save ourselves on the water--even the fastest response by rescuers can be too late. And sometimes just the shock of falling into cold water can kill.

Let''s be careful out there! A harness and lifejacket are essential in rough conditions--which can also spring up just from a passing boat''s wake.
05-02-2002 09:25 PM
heavy weather????

It does depend on the boat and on the sailor. Small craft advisories do usually apply to those less than 60 feet, however you have to know your boat and what you can do. You also have to think about what you will be doing once you get offshore. And why you would be going offshore in heavy weather.

Heavy weather is what your boat can take and what you can stand. I did deliveries of new hulls for many years. The idea of only stepping up into the liferaft makes sense. I have been in a 31 footer that made it thru a cell with over 40 foot waves. And I have been in a 45 footer that made it thru 40 foot waves with much less control and more work (for days and days). And a 40 footer with at least 50 foot swells. Depends on you, depends on your crew, depends on your boat.

The important thing is, if you have any question, stay home. Once you get 200 miles offshore, you have no say in the matter. Or, my favorite thought, "What are we gonna do, pull over for the night?". If you don''t have to be out in it, why do it? Don''t risk the life of yourself and the crew. On the other hand, sometimes the hurricane takes a wild turn, or you get hit by a cell, or you wake up to find yourself surrounded by waterspouts. Unless you have a need to be somewhere, don''t go there. And, needless to say, always file a float plan if going coastal. Noone knows where to look unless they know where you should be!! So important.

If you are thinking about venturing out, invest in an EPIRB. They make ones now that have a GPS receiver/sender in them. They even have VHFs that can send your position should you have to send a mayday. Actually, all vhfs are to have a DSC system in them, but if you have no GPS unit attached, it takes a lot longer because not all the Coast Guard bases have the capability yet.

Good luck and fair winds,
05-02-2002 06:12 AM
heavy weather????

I agree that what constitutes "dangerous conditions", at its lower limits anyway, depends an awful lot on the boat and skill and experience of the sailor. Most sailors on Lake Michigan consider 20 to 22 knots and 5 to 6 foot waves as to rough to go sailing even in a keel boat (of course this is absolutely not true), I think because these conditions make most sailors on the lake aprehensive and sailling would therefore not be any fun. I on the other hand, in July and August, have alot of fun in these conditions. I simply put in a double reef and go sailing.

Here is a true story. I decided to leave Mackinac City so as to get west to Grays reef before the wind picked up to the forecast 25 knots and then head South to Charlevoix. The boat is a Freedom 21 with no jib and the winds were light North going heavy North to 25. I power sailed with a full main and about 5 miles from Grays Reef I put in a double reef. I got to the turn at 10 AM , put up the chute and headed for Charlevoix (well almost as there is a little island I had to miss on the way). The wind picked up pretty good and the boat was zooming along. I admit that there were a few gusts which kind of got my adrenalin pumping but I enjoy the rush. Approaching the channel to the bridge I noticed a Coast Guard inflatable boat bouncing badly in the waves before going back in. The waves here were extemely steep 6 footers. We dropped the chute, headed up, dropped the main and in we went. Now here is the interesting point: the Harbor Master asked where we had come from and I said Mackinac City. His reply was "no way, the coast guard just came back in and said it was to rough out there". Was it to rough? I don''t think so.
05-01-2002 07:43 PM
heavy weather????

Not to sound too obvious about it, but in my book "Dangerous Conditions" are pretty much anything beyond my comfort and skill level.

The first time my wife and I took our C&C 37 offshore (to Cuttyhunk Island, in MA), the day after we arrived to us it seemed "Dangerous". Blowing 20-25, 3-5'' seas. Later in the day, the wind died off a bit and we headed out to Martha''s Vineyard. Had we left in the morning as planned we would have had an uncomfortable, nerve wracking trip. The boat would have been fine, I suspect the crew would have been frazzled and prone to poor judgement.

Now, I know the boat (our former boat) can take those conditions and then some. Since that trip I''ve raced in worse than that, and made a passage in worse conditions too. So now, I''d think nothing of taking the new boat out in what a couple of years ago really gave us pause.

When taking the courses for an ASA Bareboat certification, at one point you are asked "What are the safe conditions for boating in your area?" Obviously there are no concrete right or wrong answers, since conditions everywhere vary widely. The RIGHT answer to that question was the worst conditions that you, as the skipper, felt comfortable handling your boat in, no matter what they were.

If you look at the post-mortems on Fastnet 79 & Syd-Hob 98, you''ll see that most (not all) boats took an incredible amount of wind and weather and pulled through. Many that were abandoned came through fine.

Knowing intellectually that sister ships of my new boat have completed the Sydney-Hobart does in no way make me willing to go out in 50 knots of wind...definitely outside of my comfort zone. Even though I know the boat could take it, it doesn''t mean I won''t screw it up.
05-01-2002 01:12 PM
heavy weather????

Royce''s Illustrated Sailing has a good section on this. Somewhere else I read that a broaching wave is about 40% the length of a modern displacement hull boat.
The power of the wind against hull and sail area is a squared-function (ie double the wind velocity = 4 x the power) So serious reduction of sail area, leaving only steerage, would help alot. Also, close reaching in winds at Force 6 is next to impossible in most recreational boats. I personally think of Force 7 as heavy weather but then I''m a wuss at this. That''s 28-33 knots. Get off the water if you can, or heave-to if you can''t.
09-20-2001 02:16 PM
heavy weather????

I''ve heard that small craft advisories apply to vessels under 60''... More to the point, as mentioned above, in handling rough weather a lot depends upon your experience, your boat''s design, the condition both you and your boat are in, and what you''re trying to do. Kelts are generally pretty solid little cruisers, perhaps since I believe they originate from the English Channel coast of France where 20 knots of breeze can be a pretty standard item. Reaching or running in that (or more) could be a piece of cake- or result in a surprise jybe and losing the rig if you''re not on top of things. Beating into it could tire you out quickly and result in making some dangerous mistakes, as well as possible gear failures. It''s all a question of what you and your boat are ready for, and it simply takes practice and experience to know.
09-17-2001 05:24 AM
heavy weather????

What constitutes a "small craft" is deliberately ambiguous.

In the sea states associated with an ocean gale, a 25-foot sailboat is definitely a "small craft." In Long Island Sound, where 3-4 foot waves and/or winds in excess of 20 knots will rightfully generate a small craft advisory, I suppose it isn''t.

I read somewhere that any boat is extremely difficult to capsize in seas that are smaller than its beam, righting moments notwithstanding.
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