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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 07-05-2012
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Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

Oh yeah - blistering heat and crunching humidity - I haven't been near the boat for two weeks because there has been virtually no wind and 100 degree heat. If that happens during Gov Cup, I'll leave the boat to the crew and swim home.
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  #22  
Old 07-05-2012
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Re: Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

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Originally Posted by Sabreman View Post
Oh yeah - blistering heat and crunching humidity - I haven't been near the boat for two weeks because there has been virtually no wind and 100 degree heat. If that happens during Gov Cup, I'll leave the boat to the crew and swim home.
Might want to re-think the swim home option - sailing over the 4th of July (hot, but we had some wind) we saw many very large sea nettles. They're back!
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Old 07-05-2012
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Re: Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

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Might want to re-think the swim home option - sailing over the 4th of July (hot, but we had some wind) we saw many very large sea nettles. They're back!
Yes, these reports have me in a quandry over how I'm going to get the bottom cleaned before the Gov Cup. I hoped to be able to just dive it myself but if the nettles are "large and in charge" as seems to be the case this year, I may have to find some bucks for a diver or short haul.
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  #24  
Old 07-06-2012
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Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

I take the boat into open water in the Potomac to clean it. Nettles don't like the open water as much so I can usually find a spot where there aren't any and dive.
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Old 07-16-2012
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Re: Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

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We read lots about the dangers and challenges of heavy air sailing. But what about light air sailing? Which do you consider (and why) to be more challenging?

For purposes of this discussion, I'll define heavy air as sustained 25-35kts and the sea state that often accompanies it. I do not mean survival conditions (35+). I'll define light air as 0-5kts.....
Hmm - there are two different pairs of questions here (one in the title, one in the OP)

I don't find either sort of sailing frustrating, unless I'm in a boat which simply won't respond in those conditions, so I'll address the "challenging" question.

Or try to -- I find it really hard to compare, because the challenges are so different. I really enjoy both sets of conditions, incidentally....

In light air, I'd rather be on my own or with a few like-minded people. Unless on a heavy boat with few crew, it's so important to have your weight in the right place, and that place might be completely different at different phases of each puff... and you need to move smoothly and stealthily from place to place, as well as changing the sail settings smoothly. I tend to treat the breeze like a scared animal, or a langurous lover....

Some people (whether because they're goal oriented, impatient or just ungracious) find light air puts them in a bad mood, and if I find anything frustrating about light air, it's their palpable disinterest, or even (at worst) non compliance with the very reasonable needs of the boat to breathe and dance ....
or sulky, flouncing compliance at best!

If there's one message I've taken away from sailing with those who really know how to make a boat move in a zephyr, it's HEEL the boat. Enough to get gravity to hold the sails in their designed shape. Offshore in a slop this can be a trial : depending on circumstances you might consider towing a paravane(mobile flopper-stopper) on a reaching strut to leeward, like a sword-fishing boat.
AND heel the boat, transferring fuel or water or ballast if need be.

The most delicious moments on offshore trips (provided the boat doesn't have any diesel addicts in executive positions) are the first few hours of a building breeze after a long enforced holiday.
When sufficient calm-time has elapsed over a large enough region for the seas to flatten off, this can be better than anything on earth.


Challenges of a stiff breeze I see more as visceral rather than sensual: perhaps more like dancing with (and attempting to seduce) a stroppy, muscular and unpredictable partner.

One of the bigger challenges, I reckon, is to be prepared well in advance. Stowage, gear prep, maintenance, clothing, food supplies, passage plan ... these sorts of things are easy to do when conditions are peaceful, and sailing in a breeze when they haven't been properly done can be a challenge.

Because the secret, as I see it, as in all conditions, is to find the delight in it. I remember as a teenager making a discovery about riding a bike in the rain. If I scrunched my face up and rounded my shoulders - my habitual response - I could be as wet and miserable as I looked. Whereas if I opened up my face and posture to the rain like a parched flower, I could have a really pleasant ride in exactly the same conditions.

In the same way, I find it helps if you can somehow convince yourself that the amount of salt in the water which is hitting you in the face is exactly the right amount.
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Old 07-16-2012
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Re: Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

Heavy air - veering and backing - gusting (which can add 50% to your wind speed) while clawing close hauled at "0 points free" up a leeward coast. Even better if the coast is rocky and its at night with no moon. Light air is an annoyance.
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Old 07-16-2012
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Re: Light Air or Heavy Air - What's Most Frustrating?

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Originally Posted by Sabreman View Post
We read lots about the dangers and challenges of heavy air sailing. But what about light air sailing? Which do you consider (and why) to be more challenging?

For purposes of this discussion, I'll define heavy air as sustained 25-35kts and the sea state that often accompanies it. I do not mean survival conditions (35+). I'll define light air as 0-5kts.

For my part, I find light air sailing the most challenging because if the infinite amount of patience involved. Especially light air racing. In heavier winds, there is always something to do to improve the boat's ride. I can even fool myself into believing that motion (mine) equals progress (improving the boat's performance). But light air? Makes me want to scream.
As a cruiser and Live aboard, heavy air is more frustrating! I can motor through light airs. But in heavy air, I have legos going everywhere and inevitably, someone gets sick! Plus, you can grill in light airs!!!

See the two happy faces below? THat is light air sailing (motoring). THe unhappy face is because he didn't want THanksgiving dinner twice in a row!!

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