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TSOJOURNER

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I sail in the Delaware River which has a very strong tide current especially strong with all the rain we have had this year. The other day with a 10-15 mph wind blowing up river and the tide rising I was tacking,close haul, down river making great speed from bank to bank but losing ground going back up river. I finally had to drop my sails and motor back home. I have encountered this several times with good air not being able to make headway against a strong wind and current.
I have a theory that the keel on my 85 mac25 just doesn't have enough surface area to keep the boat from slipping sideways against a strong wind and current.
Has anybody experienced this problems or think my theory has merit ???

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Hey Roe - welcome to SN dude. I was lucky enough to sail with Bubb (a longtime member here and a true salt) in the Hudson. Same kind of thing there, but I'm not experienced enough to know all the dynamics going on.

However, in that case, it sounds like what you were in. The current was amped up due to rains, and the tide was going out...so we weren't making much headway - even in his Bene 28 (a great boat). I just figured if the water is moving you way from point A, it's going to take A LOT of wind and great sail trimming to fight that - regardless of the keel.

imagine2frolic

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The condition of your sails could be your problem. How old are they? If they are as old asthe boat. New sails will make her truly sail, and get her off her ear........i2f

GreatWhite

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I highly doubt it is the keel. I would suggest you are dealing with simple vector math here.

I think it is related to your pointing ability, how close to weather can you get your boat and how fast? I would start to think about VMG and the current you are opposing.

There are 'tricks' to sailing in a channel, you will often get a lift from the winds near the shore AND a possible back eddy. This might be tricky if it gets shallow gradually near the shore.

Do you know what the current is? I was sailing up a channel making 2.5 kn in the direction I wanted to go, my boat speed was about 5 kn over water (no current.) My boat is a SJ30 which goes to weather quite well and is faster than the M25. So assuming you can make 2kn relative to the water in the up stream direction, if the current is over 2kn you're going backwards!

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I also sail the tidal Delaware River,

Whatever your sail plan is, the tidal current rules. I usually plan my day sails to return with the current or at slack.

Try saltwatertides.com for local tide information, you can approximate current speed from difference between water depth from mean low at high and low tide. Try sailflow.com for wind speed and direction predictions.

Local conditions; narrows, flats, sand bars, dredge channel,... will have an effect on the current speed and direction. So try to get to know your local conditions.

Tugs with barge and freighter tend to run with the tidal current, barge herding at anchorages is usually at slack, the commercial docks will have most activity also at slack. To be safe stay clear of the commercial anchorages at slack, the tug crews already have a lot to deal with and don't have the time or room to make accomodations for recreational craft.

Wind direction is rarely consistent and gusts with wind speeds 20 to 30 knots are common. I had a gust of 45 mph last year that lasted for 15 mins but usualy the gusts die after 5 or 10 mins.

Tidal river sailing is an education and never dull.

imagine2frolic

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Even if the current is sweeping you backwards. You should be able to point up to, and maybe beyond 45* off the wind. If you can't point that high. Then possibly you need some sails. Been there, and done that sailing in 25ft. boat against 7 knot current. You can also hug the shoreline to diminish the strength of the current......i2f

HatterasJack

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Hey Roehire,
Welcome to a great community of sailors! Most of us that sail tidal waters experience the same thing just not quite as pronounced as sailing a river. Been there done that, can be a real long 6 hours till the tide shifts!! Best to plan your trip to take advantage of the tide. If the wind is just perfect you can usually sneak up one shore or the other, the current is usually slower close to shore. Not an expert but I think if you do a little research on Set and Drift with a good nautical book you can calculate your problem. You might be quite supprised when you compare VMG and VOG. Look up or ask other sailors if they have ever sailed Hells Gate? I'm sure you will enjoy some great stories!!

TSOJOURNER

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Thank for all the suggestions but I believe some have not experienced river tides. I belong to a Sailboat YC with 15 30 ft sailboats. We race about 30 times a year and there are days when many boats have a problem trying to make progress when the winds are < 5-8 mph. The river has a tidal change of 6 to 8 feet so that's a lot of water that moves in and out in a couple of hours. Been sailing for 13 years since retirement. I get to sail almost every day there is wind from April to November so I think I have a pretty good idea of how to sail. I have my windex set at 55 degrees and can point a little inside the markers with a good breeze. For those that don't know M-25 McGregors the keel is only about 18" wide.