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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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  #1  
Old 06-23-2005
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oil slick calming seas

Has anyone heard of deploying oil upwind in heavy seas to calm the sea state? Sounds ludicrous, right? I thought so too (and still am inclined to believe it), but I have read this piece of advice in enough otherwise reputable tomes on heavy weather to wonder if there isn''t something to it. Could there be some principle of physics at work here (petrol/oil being lighter than water, etc. etc) than I''m unaware of?

I don''t really think I''d ever try such a thing (wouldn''t I have a couple of dozen other more pressing concerns at a time like that to be doing?). Just curious
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Old 06-24-2005
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oil slick calming seas

It has been shown to work. It does so by reducing the friction over the sea surface. However, above a certain wind level, those frictional effects are overcome, and the sea will not calm till the wind dies down.

~ Happy trails and sails to you ~ _/) ~
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Old 06-24-2005
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oil slick calming seas

I think it just keeps the spray down.
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Old 06-24-2005
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oil slick calming seas

Oil changes the surface tension of the water. This benefit retards the tendancy of a wave to become unstable and ''break'' (the top falling off and cascading in front of the wave). Its the breaking wave that does the damage to boats/ships .... the broken wave is full of air/foam, thus the boat sinks deeper into the water (water/air mixture) as it receives more ''side forces'' from the on rushing (higher velocity) water. A solid non-breaking wave will allow the boat to stay on top of the water, etc. so that the side forces that can cause the boat to roll over, etc. are minimized. A non breaking wave only has ''recirculating'' velocities - the wave moves but the water doesnt. A breaking wave can have large horizontal velocities (hence, forces), the larger the ''speed'' of water the larger the force.
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Old 06-24-2005
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oil slick calming seas

Thanks. That is interesting to know. I guess I was kinda'' close, sort of.
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Old 06-24-2005
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oil slick calming seas

I discharge of oil on the water can be illeagle so make sure you aren''t breaking any laws... But then again oil discharge is a bad idea any time so rethink the idea and live with a bit of rough water..
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Old 06-26-2005
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oil slick calming seas

RichH Ask a proffesor what time it is and he will tell you how to build a watch.As always you have some of the best tech talk here.Good descriptions.I wonder if the captain of the Valdez was employing these methods.LOL
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Old 06-29-2005
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oil slick calming seas

I''ve heard of fish oil being used, which is biodegradable.
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Old 06-29-2005
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oil slick calming seas

As I recall, K. Adlard Coles, in his book "Heavy Weather Sailing," had the opinion that oil does have a calming effect on the sea, but that a stormy sea dissipates oil so quickly that the small amount that might be carried on a small boat would have a very short-lived effect and be of little practical use.
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Old 07-17-2005
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oil slick calming seas

I''ve never tried it, but a couple older sailing books I''ve read discuss the idea of devising a drip feed of oil...possibly through the head or sink. I think that would only be considered in quite a sustained, serious storm, not as a way to not have to deal with some annoying bad weather. It comes after heaving to, storm or no jib, double reefing, and deploying a drift anchor.

-Marty (Vancouver)
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