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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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Old 05-30-2012
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heaving to awaiting a tide change

I was talking to a knowledgeable sailer about missing the flood tide on the Columbia river bar. He said he would heave to 5-10 miles out and await the next tide. I can understand the dangers of the bar but believe that heaving to anywhere outside the mouth of that busy of a shipping channel is total insanity. Your thoughts?
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Re: heaving to awaiting a tide change

have crossed that bar many times. WAIT for the tide change ! dont heave to at night out there but day is ok. Time your trip up or down correctly and you shouldnt have to wait very long.
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Old 05-30-2012
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Re: heaving to awaiting a tide change

I'm not familiar with your local waters, but its doesn't sound totally insane. One should be able to shake it out and sail off if needed, or motor out of the way. If this was necessary every 5 minutes, I suppose it would be undesirable, but not insane.

However, unless I had to beat some enroute weather, I don't see why one wouldn't just wait it out prior to departure rather than arrive too early and have to heave-to at all, shipping lane or not.
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Re: heaving to awaiting a tide change

Coast Guard does a lot of training at the "bar" for a very good reason. If I was gonna cross it....I am waiting for slack. Check you tube for some nice armchair beer drinking videos.......
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Old 05-30-2012
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I've commented on this very topic a number of times over the years. If you're not going through at slack don't do it. You can anchor or heave to, off the South Jetty if you need to wait.
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heaving to awaiting a tide change

I appreciate your comments. The conversation came up while helping a doctor deliver his 40 footer as we missed the tide and were nearly out of fuel. I couldn't believe it was happening but his thought was to back out 5 miles and heave to. I couldn't imagine bobbing about in the dark for 6 hrs in one of the worlds busiest shipping channels so we persisted against a 2.4 ebb added to the normal 4knt Columbia current and 2 hours later we made it with a gallon to spare. Next time I crew I'm asking a lot more questions and assuming nothing. I think anchoring off the jetty would have worked if planned in advance
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heaving to awaiting a tide change

Note: the chop was small; less than 4' with no small craft advisories so current the current was the only issue...no big swells
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Old 05-30-2012
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Re: heaving to awaiting a tide change

There is nothing wrong with heaving-to AND maintaining a watch.
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heaving to awaiting a tide change

This is interesting to see perspectives of others probably more knowledgable than myself. But I know from living on the Columbia river that the ship traffic is close to one per hour and they move at 14-20 knots as well as hundreds of fishing and pleasure boats not limited to the channel which there is none 5 miles out. It was foggy and dark and I understand mutiny in a new way. If he had plotted a safe montage of the jetty in advance... No problem done. But ships were lining up behind us awaiting pilot boats and was very fearful of a collision in that setting. Nearly anywhere else fine but not off the mouth of the Columbia.

Thanks for your comments and perspective
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Re: heaving to awaiting a tide change

Heave to and wait. In light conditions and good visibility what's the problem? Even at night you can see what's coming. Light up your sails when you see a ship headed your way and get on the VHF. ALSO, you might want to consider a SECURITE call advising that you are hove to. There have been countless accidents/tragedies from people trying to cross a bar or enter a harbor under less than idea conditions.
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