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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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  #21  
Old 12-14-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canucksailorguy View Post
I question this comment - a challenge doesn't have to involve danger, it need only involve pushing the envelope of your experience. In fact, I would suggest that if danger is involved, you're pushing a bit too far....incremental keeps the enjoyment in it while adding the spice of challenge, without putting yourself and your boat at risk.
Your not the only one to call into question my use of the word "danger".

I agree it would probably not be wise to purposely go out in hurricane conditions with wind gusts predicted to be 50 knots.
But lets say you are planning on a Bermuda, Islands and beyond trip with your bride, your boat is pretty much ready but you have a few months to go.
The weather is predicting rain and winds to 35 knots and seas 4 to 6 for 8 hours and you or your significant other has never been in that before.
Do you pop out there and bash around for a few hours on your weekend or do you varnish in your basement?
What would you do?

I'm defending my choice of words. Varnishing, at least in the short term, is probably less dangerous than the beat to windward on 35 knots.
I don't think the definition of danger is that you have a 85 percent chance of death.
It's all a judgement call but there is real danger with every decision. Who knows what the real risk is? Is it higher than stepping of a curb.

In fact maybe you shouldn't risk that bash in 35 knots on the weekend because the real danger is that your SO will cancel the big trip if she gets too scared and there was an easy way out. If she had the same experience after three months of cruising and all your stuff was sold she would stick it out and have a good time. Now we are talking danger of a different kind.

Danger don't mean dead, danger means some risk, at least that's the way I was using it.

Last edited by davidpm; 12-14-2011 at 06:25 PM.
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  #22  
Old 12-14-2011
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Out of curiosity, what is so intimidating about Hell Gate? I have looked at the current tables and videos. Videos seldom show the true picture.

Out west I will go though a pass at 3 knots or less, although slack is prefered. Our worst is probably Skookumchuk Rapids at 16.5 knots; I have not been through there. Our busiest is Dodd Narrows which runs 8.5 knots; that I do at or near slack. It is about 75 meters wide.
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  #23  
Old 12-14-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidpm View Post

Danger don't mean dead, danger means some risk, at least that's the way I was using it.
Maybe you mean calculated risk. I watch weather constantly. I will not venture into Johnstone Strait in gale force winds. In April of 2010 I would not go around the north end of Vancouver Island when facing winds 55, gusting 70 knots with 6-8 meter seas all on my nose. Even then I had to hole up for a couple days in Alert Bay waiting out 50 knot winds.

Before I leave Port Hardy to venture around the top of the Island we check ever form of weather available to us before heading out.

The Nahwitti Bar at the north end of the Island should be crossed at a high water slack. This usually set the timeline for that part of the trip.

My whole passage planning process is about assessing risk.
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  #24  
Old 12-14-2011
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We seem to have hit a bit of a wall lately.

We've been cruising the inside waters to Desolation Sound for decades, have made the trip to Barkley Sound, have island hopped the Caribbean from Grenada to St Martin over several trips, and experienced a small slice of Mexico's Gold coast. Way back as a newbie I signed on for a delivery to SF from Victoria, interesting trip with lots of issues and delays and ended up flying home from Eureka CA.

I grew up on BC's central coast, a remote area with some fertile cruising grounds, much of which is fondly remembered from childhood.. but we have yet to make that trek. In fact despite plans to break the barrier into the Broughtons last summer we were stymied there too. A large factor is my wife's reluctance (read phobia) for rapids and tidal gates. The thought alone of getting through all the gates to Johnstone strait gives her fits. On top of that the high probability of fog, rain, cloud and cool makes it a very hard sell.

Still, it beckons and it could be that I'll take the boat up there and she can join us later by plane one day. So called Fiordland is a place I worked in as a teen and would love to see again.

Haida Gwai is another 'dream' destination, this time involving a crossing of Hecate Strait.

I think it simply takes determination and desire.. we know a couple vastly less 'experienced' than ourselves who successfully cruised to Prince Rupert and back this summer - kudos to them.

One thing that may help is to invite experienced crew to join you, or to 'buddy boat' with someone who's 'been there' as a way to break the ice, so to speak. The confidence and security of that plan is often enough to make it happen the first time.
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  #25  
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Sure, it is a good idea to get experience in challenging conditions. On the other hand, once we got to the islands from Chesapeake Bay (which was kind of exciting in parts) we always were sailing in better than average conditions. Why? Because if the wind was too high we simply stayed put. Why go out and be uncomfortable if you dont have to? Leave a different day or pick a different direction.

However, what conditions I am comfortable with are very different now that I have done a fair amount of open ocean sailing- I remember I used to be very nervous about winds in the mid to high 20's whereas now I would consider that a great day to go sailing. So widening the comfort zone is a good thing.
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  #26  
Old 12-14-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Faster View Post

One thing that may help is to invite experienced crew to join you, or to 'buddy boat' with someone who's 'been there' as a way to break the ice, so to speak. The confidence and security of that plan is often enough to make it happen the first time.
I will probably be going around in July (dates to be confirmed). I could meet up you in the Desolation area and you could follow us through. The hard part is the Yucultas going north as it can only be done once per day. Southbound has two opportunities per day.

Dreamspeaker and Sailing Directions both have good instructions. I posted a chart in another posting.

Or do a starter pass run. Go though Hole in the wall and spend a day or two at Octopus Islands, then go through Beazley Pass to get back into the Strait. Head down to Heriot Bay or Gorge Harbour for a celebratory dinner. Or vice versa and go into Desolation.

If anyone else might want to tag along, let me know.

Jack
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  #27  
Old 12-14-2011
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Appreciate that Jack.. will see about that when the time approaches, our summer plans are not yet firmed up (may involve Nova Scotia! - so many places, so little time!)

It would be great to go through that way.. I'll start the 'sales job' on you-know-who right away!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
Out of curiosity, what is so intimidating about Hell Gate? I have looked at the current tables and videos. Videos seldom show the true picture.

Out west I will go though a pass at 3 knots or less, although slack is prefered. Our worst is probably Skookumchuk Rapids at 16.5 knots; I have not been through there. Our busiest is Dodd Narrows which runs 8.5 knots; that I do at or near slack. It is about 75 meters wide.
I think a big part is the name. There can often be some very large traffic and once we took it the same time as a tug pushing a double barge.
The combination of narrow, curving big traffic and just enough current so if you catch it wrong and have a small boat you can get stuck and not make it.

Another possibility is that the ebb current flow one way in the sound and the other way in NY I suspect that some very crazy water can happen under certain conditions. But I have not experience anything other than traffic and the current. In Plum Gut I have heard of certain storms creating a wall of water that just sweeps over whatever is in it's path like a monster wave.

Also in the Sound we are used to 2 knots or less. So The Race, Plum Gut, and Hell Gate are all issues for us especially if you only have 10 horse.

So obviously you guys are used to much more action. Proving my point that experience one place may not prepare one for someplace else.

So I have a question for you. At 8 to 16 knots if the tide is going your way and you have a boat that can motor at 4 knots can you control the boat or do you have to wait for slack?
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  #29  
Old 12-14-2011
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Quote:
At 8 to 16 knots if the tide is going your way and you have a boat that can motor at 4 knots can you control the boat or do you have to wait for slack?
Yes, you have control, but you might get pushed around a bit.

I've watched Skookumchuck Narrows running on a big spring tide, and while I wouldn't take my boat through there when it was running, I'd take someone else's boat, just to give it a try. We do Dodd, Deception and Malibu when it's running with us.

Skookumchuck is just amazing though

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Last edited by erps; 12-14-2011 at 11:09 PM.
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  #30  
Old 12-14-2011
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What is in a name?

Jack,
Mostly the name is intimidating. That section of the East River is what passes for a high current area in this region with currents up to 5 knots in confined channels with commercial traffic. The current is not nearly as high as some of your rapids/narrows have. Cape Cod Canal has stronger currents then the East River and up near the Bay of Fundy the currents also have a wild reputation.
If you look up the derivation of the name Hell Gate from the original Dutch name it does not mean anything like the English adopted moniker. It is, however the spot with the highest currents in the narrowest area (2-300 yeards wide) with the most commercial traffic within about a 100 mile radius. It is also a hell of a ride shooting down past Manhattan at nearly 10 knots (boat speed + current) while cars sit in traffic on the FDR drive.
I wonder if there is a Guiness Book of Records entry for the estuary with the highest regular tidal current flow? Fundy may hold the record for the greatest tidal range (~40') but are the current speeds equally large?
The Bene505 boat could probably go against the currents in the East River and still make it with that large diesel engine he has. It would just take a lot longer to transit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jackdale View Post
Out of curiosity, what is so intimidating about Hell Gate? I have looked at the current tables and videos. Videos seldom show the true picture.

Out west I will go though a pass at 3 knots or less, although slack is prefered. Our worst is probably Skookumchuk Rapids at 16.5 knots; I have not been through there. Our busiest is Dodd Narrows which runs 8.5 knots; that I do at or near slack. It is about 75 meters wide.
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