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smackdaddy; "As you have pointed out, and as has been borne out by hundreds of stories, coastal sailing is really far more dangerous in many ways than offshore sailing. Yet another reason the traditional bluewater argument is pretty silly."

This is from the production boat thread in the cruising forum.

Please excuse my rookie questtion but I had thought offshore sailing WAS coastal sailing, while heading out into an ocean was bluewater sailing. But from the comment above, are there 3 types?!?

Sailing along the coast then, does the distance determine whether it's considered offshore or coastal sailing?
 

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Offshore and Bluewater would be synonymous. Sailing within sight of a coast, or for some less than an overnight distance off the coast, would still be considered 'coastal'. I think another delimiter might be if you cannot quickly divert to shelter in case of bad weather you're 'offshore'...
 
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In the Gulf of Mexico we have "blue water, brown water" in a somewhat different context--look at the color of the water, if it's blue, you're (say) 30 miles out, brown maybe up to 5 or 10 miles depending on proximity of a river delta, and in between it's sort of green.

what you call it is less important than being ready for what it entails. Offshore, blue-water, more self-reliance and self-rescue. In a way, your boat is safer (away from shoals, oil and gas platforms, and lee shores) but you are not, and rescue is far away.

Coastal (or brown water here in the Third Coast) means to me harbor-hopping and getting your position fixes from visual or land-based objects (aka "piloting) as opposed to offshore or long passages, where it's solely from celestial objects, whether old-school sextant stuff, or satellites via GPS ("navigation").

The Coast Guard, in their own (powered, except for the EAGLE) fleet, uses "Medium-endurance" and "High Endurance" for their cutters, with the Coastal craft being Patrol Boats ("low endurance" though they don't use that phrase)

What's in a name? Figure out where you are going, and prepare accordingly. Let others put a name on it..
 

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I don’t think there are any specific definitions. The terms have just grown into common usage becoming part of the language of sailing.

The RYA. Have specific minimum requirements for a voyage to qualify as meeting their requirements for their certification. Which is as close to an official definition you are likely to find.

Yacht master Coastal . Any tidal water. Apparently the Mediterranean isn’t coastal. Though it does have a lovely blue color

Yacht master Offshore. Passages must be over 60 miles from port to port. Only half must be tidal.

Yacht master Ocean. Minimum non stop 600 miles with a shortest distance of 200 miles and at least 50 miles from land.

(No mention of the tide so I suppose the Med isn’t coastal but could be offshore half the time and is an ocean. Provide you can go 200 miles in a straight line and get at least 50 miles from land at some point)

Insurance policies have a variety of definitions depending upon which company and in which country.

Or you could use the Canadian and American limits for a Coastal Master Licence. Up to 200 miles anywhere from the Artic down to 6 deg north. Out to Bermuda and Hawaii is considered Near Coastal.

My interpretation would be

Coastal any where within sight of land.
Offshore any time you leave sheltered water which may still be coastal. May loose sight off land for anything up to a couple of days.
Blue Water some where tropical. (the water is rarely blue in higher latitudes)
Ocean out of sight of land for at least a couple of days choosing routes by weather patterns and currents
 

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Sailing along the coast then, does the distance determine whether it's considered offshore or coastal sailing?
Yes, it does. But the distance is subjective to each person you ask. I wouldn't worry about miles.

I'd set your own limits for what you would consider coastal sailing, based on how experienced you are and how you have equipped your boat.

No one can set the bar or miles off for you or your boat(even though they will). Be conservative and set the bar for your weakest link.

It's pretty safe out there if you take it easy.
 

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Don't get too caught up in symantics. These are just descriptions of how seaworthy you and your boat need to be. The scale would go like this: Small lake sailing, big lake sailing, short coastal hops, long coastal hops, multi-day passage without bailout ports, passage longer than the weather forcast, long passage in high latitudes.

In the end, there are some Cape Horners found on Lakes, and some day sailers crossing oceans. Note: day sailer is the boat, day sailor is the person.
 

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Jeez Louise--Son. When your sailing, if you look out and the water's blue (on a nice fair day); or Gray (on a crappy day), that's "Blue Water Sailing". If you look out and about and the water is still brown/murky, that's "Coastal Sailing". It ain't the water that causes folks problems. It's the absence thereof and the hard parts around the edges....
 
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