SailNet Community banner

1 - 20 of 21 Posts

·
jimbo
Joined
·
95 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My wife and I are leaving for two week sailing trip. All coastal cruising. We have a coronado 45. I am wondering what size waves should I consider to rough. I've only been in 4 to 6 ft waves. We have no time frame so we can stay in protected areas if we need to. At what point should we not go out? Tell me your thoughts. I'm trying to learn about waves
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,781 Posts
Anything more than 30' high would probably be more than you'd want to handle. The tops of such waves would be well above your spreaders with you straight up & down in the trough. Four to six foot waves would barely come up to your deck level. Too much depends upon the direction you're heading, the direction of the waves, and how far apart they are to give much more specific advice about what's "too rough". Get more experience by going out and seeing what you can handle. Head to more protected water if it's too much. You're the skipper, so YOU have to decide. If you're not ready to make such decisions, hire a captain or don't go out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,378 Posts
I avoid gale force winds, if possible.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
276 Posts
My wife and I are leaving for two week sailing trip. All coastal cruising. We have a coronado 45. I am wondering what size waves should I consider to rough. I've only been in 4 to 6 ft waves. We have no time frame so we can stay in protected areas if we need to. At what point should we not go out? Tell me your thoughts. I'm trying to learn about waves
Go to weather site

World wide Marine all local weather zones - Marine wind kite and surfing data links site directory office guide data base resource links global windfinder weather temperatures charts zone wind underground accuweather service met maritime AIS VHF radi

Click on any hyperlinks for your area.

Suggest you be in constant reference to Stormsurf aninmated 180hrs
and the size you want to avoid before venturing from safe harbours.

Avoid clours on the animation Purple, red, black, white, brown.

Fair winds and safe sailing.
 

·
Master Mariner
Joined
·
8,998 Posts
It's not just about the waves, which is why many use the Beaufort Scale as a means of determining the conditions out on the water;
At any rate, I'm sure the boat can handle a great deal rougher conditions than her crew would be comfortable in, so that might be the determining factor for you.
 

·
Kynntana (Freedom 38)
Joined
·
977 Posts
Have others heard of a rule of thumb (at least in the ocean) that says to avoid waves that are the same height as the period? For example, you would get breaking waves at 8 feet of wave height and 8 second intervals, but at 15 feet and 20 seconds, the boat should be able to ride through the peaks and troughs though it could still be uncomfortable. The Gulf may not follow this because it's enclosed and the waves can get pretty confused. For the OP, you can find wave height and period at NOAA's offshore buoys (National Data Buoy Center). I clicked on several, but Station 42039 was the only one I found that collects this data.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
626 Posts
Anything more than 30' high would probably be more than you'd want to handle. The tops of such waves would be well above your spreaders with you straight up & down in the trough. Four to six foot waves would barely come up to your deck level. Too much depends upon the direction you're heading, the direction of the waves, and how far apart they are to give much more specific advice about what's "too rough". Get more experience by going out and seeing what you can handle. Head to more protected water if it's too much. You're the skipper, so YOU have to decide. If you're not ready to make such decisions, hire a captain or don't go out.
agree
although i have to say, that if the going gets tough, i would seek clear water ahead of me and not a shelter where the waves threaten to smash my boat against some nasty rocks... ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,111 Posts
Anything more than 30' high would probably be more than you'd want to handle.
Anything more than THIRTY FEET ???

Uhhh, gee, 'ya think? ;-)

I'm a wimp, I suppose, but I find it hard to imagine any circumstance where I would EVER consider leaving a harbor or protected waters, into the ocean in anything REMOTELY close to such conditions...

Hell, last time we saw such seas off the Jersey coast, was the night that Hurricane Sandy came ashore... :) And, there are precious few inlets or harbor entrances anywhere along the length of either coast of the US that I'd care to attempt in seas even half of that size...

But, that's probably just me... :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
618 Posts
Swell vs. waves is a good thing to consider and start to understand. A 15' long period swell might be nothing (kind of an enjoyable up and down to your sailing) 15' waves are another thing entirely. 15' waves that are breaking are plenty big enough to roll your boat. If you are simply looking at data, the way you tell the difference between swells and waves is mostly the "wave period" although some NOAA bouys characterize wave steepness.

Something I didn't really appreciate until I'd had first hand experience with it a couple years ago was the significance of multiple wave patterns. We left on a passage with an old and diminishing tropical depression stalled 800 miles to the east. That produced 10-12 rolling swells from the east that were hardly noticeable by themselves. However when winds associated with a arriving cold front began building, we had building waves out of the south that piled up on top of the swell. The first day of this was almost enjoyable as it sometimes felt like you were sailing up a mountain -- and we'd occasionally get views down into the valleys -- while never really facing a steep or regular wave pattern. However, by the time that front was near, the wind waves were maybe 12-15' and very steep with some breaking crests and an occasional wave which seemed ridiculously large.

A third issue arose when the front passed and the winds shifted we then had steep waves from entirely different directions. That was a boat handling challenge but also provided some amazing shows when the steeper waves with breaking crests would crash into each other and towers of white water would shoot into the air. Truly awesome site -- and thankfully it never happened too close to us. There is a lot to learn -- truly an endless amount. I am no expert, but those are some of the things I hadn't fully appreciated until I'd experienced them.

I would schedule your sailing windows for forecast weather and condition in which you are comfortable. The forecast errors will give you more than enough opportunity to expand that comfort zone and show you a wider range of conditions.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
570 Posts
Lots of knowledge already given on wave hoight and period. A search on this site will show many more threads that deal with the issue.

My question would be, how did you and your crew handle 4-6'. If you were comfortable in those then try 6-8' next. From there 8-10'. Period will make all the difference.
The boat, with an experienced captain and crew, may handle what I hope was the tounge in cheek reference to 30', but nobody in their right mind would start out on a cruise in those conditions. Breaking waves of 8-10' are not a comforatable ride!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,378 Posts
My question would be, how did you and your crew handle 4-6'. If you were comfortable in those then try 6-8' next. From there 8-10'. Period will make all the difference.
Yes, period matters a lot. Ocean waves tend to have a longer period. Wind over current can shorten the period and make for steeper waves.

Other important factors are point of sail and type of boat. I have been in 30-35 knots winds, 12-15 seas, broad reaching and hand steering a 37 foot fin keeled sloop. The ride was OK, but it was a lot work.

Close- hauled in those condition would be horrid.

A beam reach would be deadly, the chance of a slam would be magnified.
 

·
jimbo
Joined
·
95 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Blowinstink... wow what a great answer
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
626 Posts
Yes, period matters a lot. Ocean waves tend to have a longer period. Wind over current can shorten the period and make for steeper waves.

Other important factors are point of sail and type of boat. I have been in 30-35 knots winds, 12-15 seas, broad reaching and hand steering a 37 foot fin keeled sloop. The ride was OK, but it was a lot work.

Close- hauled in those condition would be horrid.

A beam reach would be deadly, the chance of a slam would be magnified.
A had a similar experience on a night trip in the med...
Tiller steering a 32(?) or thereabouts for the whole night in a broad reach gives you the feeling of an roman-rudder-slave on one of those battleship of them... ;)
Pull the tiller, push the tiller, pull the tiller, push the tiller... And so on for endless hours with both hands at the tillerbar...
I had sore muscles the day after, but it was good sailing! :D
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
276 Posts
My wife and I are leaving for two week sailing trip. All coastal cruising. We have a coronado 45. I am wondering what size waves should I consider to rough. I've only been in 4 to 6 ft waves. We have no time frame so we can stay in protected areas if we need to. At what point should we not go out? Tell me your thoughts. I'm trying to learn about waves

On the my weather page you will also find a hyper link to

Understanding Wave Height, Swell height and Fetch.
There is a Difference especially FETCH.


At 'Marine Weather Links Worldwide Plus section.



:eek:



Cheers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,249 Posts
There is a big difference between "waves it is possible to sail in" and "waves I would voluntarily sail in for a pleasure cruise". As a point of reference, I just got back from sailing a 70 ft. boat from Norfolk to the USVI's - We delayed departure to avoid 14-17 ft. waves because though the boat could certainly do it, why on earth would we want to? We waited for the seas to calm down to 6-8. None of us were novice sailors and this was in a 55 ton boat. If I were on a pleasure cruise I would be even more conservative. Why beat yourself up? If you arent on a delivery it is supposed to be FUN isnt it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23,488 Posts
All great info, which I won't repeat. The next trick is actually predicting the waves, which I find to be the least accurate of all weather forecasts. Start by checking NOAA weather buoys online, if you can. There are smart phone apps and websites. Then check forecasts, like passage weather or the like, but look at the trend from a day before to day after. The only thing I've come to believe is, if the forecast says they are building, they will. What they may build to is a mystery, but at least you can check current conditions and understand whether they should be going up or down.

Generally, the worst waves are caused by opposing wind direction and current direction. Wind can oppose a major ocean current or tidal current and get nasty. While sustained winds that come from shore don't typically travel far enough over coastal water to kick up big waves, they are nasty if there is swell heading toward shore from a long away storm system. Lots and lots of variables.

So, a final rule of thumb. If its just my wife and I, we are hardened enough to take some seas we would never sail guests into. That said, when on vacation, if we start to see anything over 6 ft on a coastal cruise, it's usually being caused by a storm or high winds that are just going to make it unpleasant. We will do it when necessary, meaning there are no bars open wherever we are at the moment :) I've never been on a cruising vacation, where I haven't stayed hunkered down at least once. If you can predict the tougher conditions out a couple of days, adjust your schedule to be somewhere you don't mind staying over.
 

·
Catamarans are the best
Joined
·
101 Posts
Although I have not experienced 30' waves I was told the exact same thing when we were trying to learn as much as we could about sailing before we bought the boat... We were with an experienced captain (on a 42' cat) and I asked, "so, when do you say to yourself, oh boy, this is not good, we have got to focus here?" and his serious reply was when the waves get to be about 30 feet, because down in the trough you lose the wind.

Fortunately, so far, we are only about 1/2 way to experiencing that!
 
1 - 20 of 21 Posts
Top