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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 09-14-2001
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heavy weather????

My Kelt is 25ft, 9ft 6in beam, 4ft 6in fin keel. I know it has taken alot of wind but what always made me curious is what constitutes dangerous conditions. How much waves and wind can a boat take. I''ve been out in LI Sound with small craft warnings and wonder what size is considered small craft.
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Old 09-14-2001
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heavy weather????

most boats can take a lot more than the people inside them. the ability to sail in heavy weather short of a hurricane is limited to the crews experience and the soundness of rig and sails and equipment on board.
eric
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Old 09-15-2001
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heavy weather????


I wake to the feel of heavy heeling and rushing water against the hull. Two hours have past and I can''t sleep anymore, adrenaline is pumping...I can feel it. On deck once again I see a tired Emory, waves and white water higher than the stern, water pelting my face. The wind indicator is at 49 kts with gusts to 55kts. We go to the port winch and furl the genoa so only a hanky is sticking out. Emory says the autopilot was doing well and that an occasional adjustment to port or starboard stopped any excessive heeling. The white water turned green as it went by Areals'' hull, the roar was deafening. The wind blew hard when we would be on a crest, the canvas, dodger, and awning seemed to grow outward as Emory pointed this out. Emory went down below after reassuring him I got it. The night moved fast as the waves would hit the stern splashing water all over me and the cockpit. I would think this is all and the wind would howl even louder. At a point I did not want to look at the wind indicator anymore, because it seemed it would always go higher when I was wishing it lower! How long can this last? At last glance the winds were at 58-60 kts with gusts 66kts, making it hard to keep the stern to the waves. Adjustments had to be done every few minutes or so, a degree or two to port or to starboard would be needed to stop the heeling as the Areal surfed down the waves. The loud roaring would ease off to a whistling in the upper rigging as we plummeted to the bottom of the wave into the trough where once again the stern would be lifted skyward as the next wave in turn would march along. The waves were steep and shortly spaced, the wind was from the south, and made it difficult to look back when you were on top of a wave. The wave conditions were attributed to the Gulfstream and making any adjustments to get out would not be prudent since the Areal was handling well even in these conditions. Stern to seemed to be the order of the day, and day it was. Monster waves.....White water breaking and rolling down yet not. It would stay to the top of the wave and then the wave would seem to heave up higher and move along faster pushing the white water behind it. This was noticed as we reached the peak of the wave before racing down at terrific speeds. The wave would then again catch up with us half way down and lift and roll under us with a thunderous roar! As the Areals'' stern would fall off the back part of the wave, you felt you were on the space shuttle pointing upwards. In the trough it felt like a relief for a few seconds as the pressure of the winds and spray abated, but knowing the next wave would pick Areals'' stern skyward bringing you into a deafening world. At times when the stern would rise up to the wave, the angle got so steep you felt you had to put a hand on the seat orwheel to keep yourself in. We had on those new type of PFDs'' which inflated whenyou fell i
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Old 09-17-2001
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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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Old 09-20-2001
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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.
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Old 05-01-2002
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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.
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Old 05-01-2002
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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.
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Old 05-02-2002
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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.
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Old 05-02-2002
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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,
MaryBeth
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Old 05-03-2002
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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.
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