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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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  #11  
Old 12-28-2013
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Re: How much wave/swell is too much?

The general rule of thumb is that a boat can be capsized by a breaking wave, on the beam, of 30% to 60% of the waterline length - so 8ft on your boat is getting into the danger zone.

Using this calculator, the Pearson 30 has a capsize ratio of 1.88 - which is decent. Your less beamy old boat might be initially tender, but chances are it has good behaviour at large angles of heel.

http://www.image-ination.com/sailcalc.html

It's interesting to compare it to a modern beamy design - like a Hunter 336. Capsize ratio for that is 2.12 - above the "acceptable" limit of 2. The Hunter's beam will make it feel much stiffer, initially, though.
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Old 12-28-2013
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Re: How much wave/swell is too much?

Start with the idea that you will probably be pretty safe in large waves if you can keep the boat from being beam-on to breaking waves. So, you think, 'fine, I won't go beam-on to the waves'. However, there are any number of scenarios where this may get to be beyond your control:

1. Experience steering in big waves
2. The need to turn b/c of a lee shore
3. Engine failure
4. Rigging or sail failure
5. Fatigue leading to a mistake
6. etc.

The trick is to avoid things, through preparation, that may lead to you getting in situations where you can't control your boat.
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  #13  
Old 12-28-2013
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Re: How much wave/swell is too much?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pearson796 View Post
We launched the boat at Kenosha, WI where we started out journey on the loop. I have zero sailing experience and have never owned a boat prior to buying this one.

We set out at 4:30 on an afternoon when the forecast was supposed to be 1-3 foot waves. With no sailing experience we were just going to motor the 50 miles or so down to Calumet Harbor where we were going to unstep the mast for the rest of our trip down to the gulf.

About halfway between the Chicago Harbor and the Calumet Harbor, THIS happened.

The waves were getting bigger and bigger into the night and started to break. Now they were breaking over the side of our boat and we had no engine and no experience with sails.

We got beat up bad before we were finally towed into Crowleys. I kept reminding the Admiral that as bad as it seemed, the boat could take more than we could and to not be scared. Inside my adrenaline was pumping and I was terrified. Needless to say, sea sickness was setting in.

I never want to relive that night again. What was supposed to be a calm 1-3 foot wave turned into much bigger waves that were very close together and began to soak us on deck.

I am hoping that those 8' waves we dealt with that night will feel completely different on the ocean when the rhythm is completely different.

This summer we are taking sailing lessons here on Kentucky Lake. We had planned to motor all the way to Florida and learn to sail there, but our plans have changed. In the last month that we have been on the loop we have realized that there are things we need to do to the boat and equipment that would make things easier.
With no sail up in those conditions would be ugly. I would not have taken that trip without at least an experienced sailor. I think had you put up a deep reefed main and jib you likely would have had a different experience. It is especially bad if you have no motor and not sails as you not only feel out of control, but are out of control. Good thing you were far enough off the shore that you did not get washed aground. Lots of folks think "Oh it is just a lake" but it is a big brutal lake. But the important part is that you made it out OK, and likely will never (but never say never!) see anything like that again. You just got it out of the way early in game!

I think it is a wise choice to learn to sail on Kentucky Lake. Thing is a sailboat is a sailboat and not a motor boat. It will have a much more comfortable motion with the sails up even when motoring. The wind in the sails help to stabilize the boat, so I think you will be much more comfortable with the sails up. Heck you may even save a bunch of money on fuel, just think of the rum you can buy!
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Re: How much wave/swell is too much?

which raises the question of how does one predict wave height/frequency? This being my first year sailing, I intentionally limited my sailing to the harbor and ICW. But the channel and ocean are something I want to explore in year two. I have found good resources for predicting wind strength and direction but to this point have not found a good solution (Android app or website) that will let me predict wave height and frequency off the coast of SC. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
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Re: How much wave/swell is too much?

Quote:
Originally Posted by miatapaul View Post
With no sail up in those conditions would be ugly. I would not have taken that trip without at least an experienced sailor. I think had you put up a deep reefed main and jib you likely would have had a different experience. It is especially bad if you have no motor and not sails as you not only feel out of control, but are out of control. Good thing you were far enough off the shore that you did not get washed aground. Lots of folks think "Oh it is just a lake" but it is a big brutal lake. But the important part is that you made it out OK, and likely will never (but never say never!) see anything like that again. You just got it out of the way early in game!

I think it is a wise choice to learn to sail on Kentucky Lake. Thing is a sailboat is a sailboat and not a motor boat. It will have a much more comfortable motion with the sails up even when motoring. The wind in the sails help to stabilize the boat, so I think you will be much more comfortable with the sails up. Heck you may even save a bunch of money on fuel, just think of the rum you can buy!
We made the choice to get a sailboat so we didn't have to buy fuel. It cost us more upfront, but it will be cheaper in the long run. As everyone is probably aware, they all but give away motorboats.

We love the idea of sailing.

We follow a couple named Chuck and Laura on Youtube. They sail the pacific in a small Ablin Vega called the LeaLea. Chuck said he self taught himself to sail and they sail very conservatively.

I don't think, based on all the stupid mistakes I've made already on this loop trip, that I would be comfortable learning to sail on my own by trial and error.

If I've learned anything at all, I've learned that when things go wrong, they go wrong fast and with little or no warning.

We were lucky on Lake Michigan. We were able to steer and were able to surf the waves until help arrived. Even surfing, we had waves breaking over our stern.
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Re: How much wave/swell is too much?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rbyham View Post
which raises the question of how does one predict wave height/frequency? This being my first year sailing, I intentionally limited my sailing to the harbor and ICW. But the channel and ocean are something I want to explore in year two. I have found good resources for predicting wind strength and direction but to this point have not found a good solution (Android app or website) that will let me predict wave height and frequency off the coast of SC. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
The national weather service marine point forecast includes wave heights. They even separate wind waves, and long period swell. You just click on a point on the map. Hint : sometimes the general synopsis is more useful to know than the detailed model results.

PS : I'm a firm believer in being able to sail, AND having a dependable engine.
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Last edited by MarkSF; 12-28-2013 at 05:10 PM.
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Re: How much wave/swell is too much?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pearson796 View Post
We made the choice to get a sailboat so we didn't have to buy fuel. It cost us more upfront, but it will be cheaper in the long run. As everyone is probably aware, they all but give away motorboats.

We love the idea of sailing.

We follow a couple named Chuck and Laura on Youtube. They sail the pacific in a small Ablin Vega called the LeaLea. Chuck said he self taught himself to sail and they sail very conservatively.

I don't think, based on all the stupid mistakes I've made already on this loop trip, that I would be comfortable learning to sail on my own by trial and error.

If I've learned anything at all, I've learned that when things go wrong, they go wrong fast and with little or no warning.

We were lucky on Lake Michigan. We were able to steer and were able to surf the waves until help arrived. Even surfing, we had waves breaking over our stern.

Yea, LeaLea is a nice boat, and Chuck and Laura have traveled a lot on her. thing is too that he learned in HI, where they have very strong winds and waves. Once you start to understand it it is not hard. Just need to learn the basics so that you will be confidant in bringing up the sails. Then there is a lot of experimentation. As long as you are happy with the progress you are making, and don't break anything then you are doing it right. Glad it did not scare you away from sailing, lots of folks don't get back on the horse after an experience like that.
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Re: How much wave/swell is too much?

Quote:
Originally Posted by miatapaul View Post
Glad it did not scare you away from sailing, lots of folks don't get back on the horse after an experience like that.
I paid cash for the boat and worked very hard for that cash during harvest season this year. For 3 months I had 7 hours off a night to eat and sleep. I wasn't about to quit after working so hard.

My wife and I researched for a year before I bought this boat. Almost from the beginning of our research we discovered Chuck and Laura.

I was very fortunate to find this sailboat for the price that I did.

Maybe if the boat had been given to me and I hadn't had to work for it and plan for it... It would have been easy to say #$%@ this, and walk away.

My wife and I literally sold everything that was not irreplaceable out of a 3 bedroom house and rented a uhaul trailer and headed to where the boat was on the hard... before we ever stepped foot on the boat.

We jumped in with both feet.

I joked with my wife... but not really joking... "I'm prone to sea sickness, I don't know how to sail, I haven't ever owned a boat, and we are basically buying this thing sight unseen.... What could go wrong?"

Here we are almost two months later and we haven't sunk the boat. We managed to survive Lake Michigan, The Illinois River, The Mississippi, The Ohio, and part of Kentucky Lake so far. I guess we must be doing something right.

As I stated in another post, We plan to stay on Kentucky Lake for the remainder of the winter and hope to pick up some seasonal work at this marina until Sept 1st when we will continue our Loop Trip.

Oddly, I think I have more concern about the ICW than I have of any part we have done or are going to do of the loop.
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Re: How much wave/swell is too much?

I think it is important to understand what the wave height forecast is based on. Significant wave height. http://www.mxak.org/weather/pdfs/waves.pdf
Dan S/V Marian Claire
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Re: How much wave/swell is too much?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barquito View Post
Start with the idea that you will probably be pretty safe in large waves if you can keep the boat from being beam-on to breaking waves. So, you think, 'fine, I won't go beam-on to the waves'. However, there are any number of scenarios where this may get to be beyond your control:

1. Experience steering in big waves
2. The need to turn b/c of a lee shore
3. Engine failure
4. Rigging or sail failure
5. Fatigue leading to a mistake
6. etc.

The trick is to avoid things, through preparation, that may lead to you getting in situations where you can't control your boat.
Well said. I just used to hate it when waves would come over the stern or when the whole bow, back to the wheel house was under water. We fished a boat identical to the attached photo and sailed our Coronado 25 in and outside of San Francisco Bay for many years.

We could have really used this at the time:

Northern California NOAA/CDIP Buoy Data

Paul T
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