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Discussion Starter #41
When cruising in the Caribbean, when does it move from coastal to off shore ? Or is it really all off shore ?
 

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"Nevis Nice"
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Well, some of the roughest, most uncomfortable sailing I've done has been in the 30 to 70 nm passages between the islands in the Lesser Antilles. But if problems developed, I felt like I could limp into an anchorage somewhere, and maybe even get some help from a nearby boat by calling on the VHF.

On an offshore passage far from shore, you're on your own and out there no matter what happens. No harbor of refuge to run for. So I'd say sailing in the eastern Caribbean is "coastal sailing", albeit of the "interesting" variety on occassion.
 

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Owner, Green Bay Packers
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Offshore is anywhere and time you start to get the feeling that your "coastal-cruiser" might not be up to the job. (g)
Freesail,
I think that the above is as close as I can get to an over-arching distinction between the two classes of boats/conditions.

It is all a matter of usage. It would be patently foolish to purchase the blue water passagemaker for island hopping in the Caribbean with no set timetable and live aboard comfort being at a premium. By the same token, if the intended usage is to be primarily at sea for longer periods of time, it makes sense to start looking at more capable, if less comfortable, boats. I think for most, we'd like to have a boat that will get us home if we've put off running for home a bit too long, but not at the sacrifice of how we primarily use the boat. (You don't see too many Ferarri's in Alaska, nor minivan's at Le Mans, and not too many families find a Hummer to be ideal transportation.)
 

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moderate?
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Actually I think the whole trip down the thorny path to the Caribe can be classified as coastal since you are never more than 24 hours away from a harbor...But as HUD says...you can often encounter offshore type conditions and winds and seas as the trades fetch across the entire Atlantic and can provide challenging conditions...especially between the T&C's and St. Martin when you can finally turn south instead of East.

My own view is that once in the Virgin Islands and heading south...any production boat is cabable of crusing the islands safely if you pay attention to the weather. Getting there however (even though "coastal" by my definition) I'd recommend a boat that will stand up to the pounding you will take heading to windward. A lot of production boats will shake themselves and their owners silly on this leg. You don't need a boat with the tankage and long term scantlings that a heavily built cruisers has, but you do want something that can go to weather in 8' short period seas and 20-25knots close hauled without making you regret the decision to leave port!
So...after all that Freesail...my answer is that none of it is offshore unless you get there via Bermuda...but you still need more boat beneath you than if you were just doing the ICW or the Bahamas.
 

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Bristol 45.5 - AiniA
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Makes sense to me

When your mind shifts from considering running for port when the weather starts kicking up to worrying about having enough sea room.

Malie ke kai
There have been a number of interesting and thoughtful posts, but this one makes most sense to me.
 

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I reckon once you can't navigate by pilotage, i.e. no landmarks you're offshore So as soon as you get lost you're offshore? If fog sets in, you must be offshore?
Anyone who gets lost because they can't see landmarks should really consider whether they want to be sailing at sea at all.:D

Andre
 

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The Governing bodys say that up to 60 miles from a safe haven is coastal cruising 60-150nm is offshore 150+ is ocean. hope i helped
 

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Discussion Starter #48
This has been a very good thread. Thanks one and all.
 

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Sailor
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The Governing bodys say that up to 60 miles from a safe haven is coastal cruising 60-150nm is offshore 150+ is ocean. hope i helped
Governing bodys?
 

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We sail Paloma (Bristol 29.9) mostly in the Gulf of Mexico and I consider offshore when we going diagonally (say from Port Isabel to Freeport) or across the Gulf (as in, Galveston to Vera Cruz), and get more than a day's sail from a landable port. Also, off shore whenever we are south of the Rio Grande (the Texas/Mexico border) and outside the Mexican teritorial waters (18nm for Mexico), if you are sailing south of the Rio Grande, you had best not plan on putting into any harbor in Mexico with out a passport.
 

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Wandering Aimlessly
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Go as far offshore as you feel comfortable with. Don't worry about defining it, just do it.
 

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Telstar 28
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Governing body's IMO: International maritime organization, MCA: Maritime and Coastgaurd agency, USC: United states coastgaurd, RYA: Royal Yachting Association
 

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There is for sure many ways one can distinguish between coastal waters and ocean. I consider waters where one navigates by coastal means, like sight, lighthouses, buoys etc.

In Norway one need a license to navigate a boat larger than 50 feet and/or heavier than 25 tons. This license comes in two versions, one for coastal navigation and one for ocean navigation. The difference being skills in celestial navigation (use of sextant).

In my opinion coastal waters are far more dangerous than ocean waters and I believe most accidents happens in coastal waters. It is the contact with land that is devastating to a boat, not contact with the water.
 

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I'd say the reason more accidents happen in coastal waters would be due to the fact that 1. It's busier (more chance of collision) 2. More natural hazards (coral e.t.c) 3. Shallower waters (running aground)
However these things only happen due to crew/skipper error.
Oceans themselves are far worse than coastal waters largely due to the fact that you're so far from help but more accidents happen in coastal waters because they're a smaller area full of idiots. read should boating be licenced
 

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The distance to help has been mentioned several times in this thread. I am beginning to wonder if it may be that help is more important in planning the sailing for other people than it is for me? Once I am more than 25 NM away from the shore (the average distance of the VHF) I consider myself on my own and beyond any help. Accordingly my own responsibility to listen to the weather forecast, assuring that the ship is seaworthy etc.

It is very seldom that accidents happen either in coastal waters or in oceans, that are due to natural forces alone. To my knowledge it has never happened that a fishing ship has had any accidents on the way to the fishing-areas. It is on the way home, due to to much payload, that fishing-ships have accidents. The same can be said of commercial ships and ferries. Most of their accidents are due to stability problems, rarely weather alone.
 
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