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Old 22-06-2017, 18:46   #1
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Are Speed Logs and Wind Speed Instruments Obsolete?

We bought our current boat in 1995 and have been sailing since 2003 without a speed log. It was a continual source of aggravation since it regularly became entangled with seaweed/flotsam while at sea and small barnacles while at anchor for as little as a few days. With the accuracy of GPS, hourly fixes/DR updates, we believe that it no longer has a purpose on our boat and we have happily sailed thousands of miles without one. Recently, in the last five years, we have lost two wind speed instruments to lightning strikes. And at roughly $500. per unit and the aggravation of installation, it has been relegated to history. Similar to the speed log, we have never missed it as we are well attuned to reading the wind and adjusting our sails accordingly. We believe they are completely unnecessary, for us, to cruise. However, we do value our depth log as essential(especially in cloudy/murky waters) when sailing along the coast, a VHF and a GPS/Chartplotter--although we always keep a DR track on paper charts. Do you believe this is a safety issue? Can someone tell me why they are important or even needed today? Thanks.
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Old 22-06-2017, 19:06   #2
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Re: Are Speed Logs and Wind Speed Instruments Obsolete?

We rely on our two Aerogen 6 wind generators to indicate wind speed and direction.

Since we are a catamaran, we can look to either the port or starboard wind generators to figure out what is happening with wind speed and direction. It's close enough for the type of sailing that we do. We lost our mast head wind speed and direction in the Med, and never replaced it on the last quarter of our circumnavigation.

I had a standing order to my kids when they were on watch, that if wind speed went over 23 knots, they were to wake me up to check things out and adjust sail area as needed. So it was inconvenient for the kids to not have a wind speed indicator to help them make their decision.

I relied on gps for boat speed most of the time. I confess that I frequently did not trim my sails to maximize boat speed. Most of the time I trimmed for maximum safety and comfort. We were into no bruising cruising with a goal of 150 miles each day when sailing offshore. We could do that most days without the wind speed and direction instrumentation, and in reasonable comfort.

So I am comfortable with the idea that you propose.
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Old 22-06-2017, 19:16   #3
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Re: Are Speed Logs and Wind Speed Instruments Obsolete?

Depends on what sort to sailing you are doing and your crew.

When handing over a watch to crew member, I generally say:
"Wake me if the apparent wind goes over xx knots"

(One occasion when I didn't say that cost me a furling screecher )
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Old 22-06-2017, 19:36   #4
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Re: Are Speed Logs and Wind Speed Instruments Obsolete?

Quote:
Originally Posted by StuM View Post
Depends on what sort to sailing you are doing and your crew.
.......
This ^^.

STW is not applicable to most of us if we have SOG. In strong tidal areas and narrow channels it can be useful but not essential.

As far as windspeed goes, I have always being happy to a handheld meter for speed and the feel in the face for direction. Racing crews have different needs
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Old 22-06-2017, 19:58   #5
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Re: Are Speed Logs and Wind Speed Instruments Obsolete?

I sailed for years coastally here without a knotmeter or an anemometer. When I got my current boat it came with an ancient knot log through the hull with the propeller spinner. I manage to keep it clean and it is amazingly accurate, checked against GPS! (I went into Minney's (second-hand shop) a while back to look for a Walker Log and got laughed at, but they did have 2 on the shelf. And they are still pricey!) But, now with GPS, it's mostly for entertainment purposes until the GPS dies. To my mind a good knotmeter is pretty important, but then I am thinking in terms of ded. reckoning. These days I suppose one could sail around the world with just a decent cell-phone. Wind speed was always a matter of guess work based on weather observations I'd listen to, or what other boat's meters said!. That's kind of a matter of entertainment too for me, since I change or reef based on how things feel, not on a specific speed. But I just bought my first hand-held anemometer the other day because, if the videos on youtube I see are correct, I am often sailing out in 40 knots of wind!
which I highly doubt.
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Old 22-06-2017, 22:17   #6
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Re: Are Speed Logs and Wind Speed Instruments Obsolete?

I like sailing with the autopilot steering to a wind angle. If you're sailing DDW, it makes life much easier and safer.
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Old 23-06-2017, 09:03   #7
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Re: Are Speed Logs and Wind Speed Instruments Obsolete?

It's not a safety issue, and if you don't care for them you can certainly choose not to have them.

Both those instruments are extremely valuable to me though:

- Speed Log. The main purpose of measuring speed over water is to tell whether you're in current, and how much of it. Or to save battery (speed transducer is much lower draw than GPS). Where I sail there's a lot of current, from 0 to 10 knots or so. The higher currents are easy to observe, but 1-2 kts often isn't, and there aren't always tide/current predictions that can precisely pinpoint what current you'll experience at a particular spot. 1-2 kts makes a big difference on sailing speed and a speed log helps us find backeddies.

We don't have any issue with barncacles or seaweed clogging it. Maybe it's the area of the world you're in, or perhaps you had an old, antiquated speed log? Newer ones are designed pretty well and are removable for cleaning, plus should be painted with transducer anti-fouling paint.

- Wind anemometer. This was one of our most useful upgrades, as we do a lot of light wind sailing. It allows us to more reliably decide when to switch from motoring to sailing (4 kts true wind is often hard to notice), and helps with keeping correct headings while going downwind (apparent wind direction is often difficult to calculate at light wind speeds downwind). I agree it's more useful before you're extremely experienced with your boat. Although even then it's useful as a convenience factor.

2 lightning strikes is pretty bad luck, but if you decided to get one again perhaps you could get a lightning vane (not guaranteed to protect the anemometer, but it might).
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Old 23-06-2017, 09:39   #8
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Re: Are Speed Logs and Wind Speed Instruments Obsolete?

As others have said, it depends on what kind of sailing you do. If you work at sail trim at all, wind and STW data is pretty essential.

Even without strong tidal currents, the surface of the water is still always moving, and +/- a half a knot is not trivial if you are actually sailing the boat and trimming sails. In tidal water, you simply don't know anything about your speed, without STW.

As to wind - likewise, a few knots plus or minus can affect sail trim a lot, and determines target speeds. A few degrees plus or minus also affects sail trim a lot. A windex will give you a ropoholic idea about wind angle, but what about wind speed? Of course you can sail without this data, but why? Unless you're the type to hoist sails and just forget them.
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Old 23-06-2017, 09:52   #9
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Re: Are Speed Logs and Wind Speed Instruments Obsolete?

For upwind sailing of anything more than a daysail you need STW and Apparent Wind direction. Wind speed is required for decisions on sail area, reefing as well as adjusting weather forecasts.

What we have found is that for cruising, the accuracy is less important. We stopped with masthead instruments as well after birds and lighting strikes killed everything up there. We now have a Maretron WSO100 ultrasonic wind/weather sensor (no moving parts) about 7 feet above deck level. It was on our bimini and we are now moving it to our stern arch. This isn't perfect, but it's good enough.

We have a tri-ducer for STW/depth and water temperature and just pull it whenever not sailing so that it doesn't foul. I don't care about the absolute number for STW so much, but it is great for comparing tacks, VMG etc.
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Old 23-06-2017, 09:58   #10
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Re: Are Speed Logs and Wind Speed Instruments Obsolete?

The only reason I like the STW is to tell how much current Iím dealing with, but SOG (via GPS) is just fine almost all the time for me.

I have a wind instrument and like it very much for direction Less so for speed, although wind speed can vary considerably from top of mast to water level. My windmill and yarn also help, but when sailing at night itís harder to see sails and seas. This is when I really appreciate the glowing instrument in the cockpit.
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Old 23-06-2017, 12:14   #11
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Re: Are Speed Logs and Wind Speed Instruments Obsolete?

Use the Knotmeter/Log because it tells me how well I'm sailing the boat without the distraction of current. Seeing the 24hour run at the noon log entry for actual distance sailed tells me how good a day it was. Recently made a delivery without a knot meter and really missed it. GPS is nice to give you an actual location and course to a waypoint but doesn't tell you how well you are sailing the boat.
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Old 23-06-2017, 13:00   #12
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Re: Are Speed Logs and Wind Speed Instruments Obsolete?

The last boat wind speed blew off in a hurricane in the BVIs. Later blew out a chute on the way to Marqeasus. This boat fixed the wind speed but it's broken again. It's nice to give yourself a wind speed limit and say to yourself right that's the max gust the chute comes down right now. It's really the only time I really want/need wind and speed through water.
Alternatively I'm thinking buy cheap 2nd hand chutes and blow a few out
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Old 23-06-2017, 13:35   #13
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Re: Are Speed Logs and Wind Speed Instruments Obsolete?

Wind speed indicator avoids guessing especially when wind is gusting or increasing. I see it as a safety issue. Speed indicator is useful in hard to estimate tidal situations particularly under power. Under sail it is useful in sail adjustment. I find fast feedback very valuable. If my boat did not already have them would I spend $1-2000 to get them? Probably not.
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Old 23-06-2017, 14:01   #14
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Re: Are Speed Logs and Wind Speed Instruments Obsolete?

"Of course you can sail without this data, but why? Unless you're the type to hoist sails and just forget them." Dockhead

D,
We are very efficient sailors and know how to get the best out of our boat. However, we are continually surprised how few "sailors" really know how to sail their boats and understand wind velocities/direction vs. sail shape and the effect of current(as some have mentioned) in relation to SOG/VMG. Sadly, I believe this is more common that most would believe. And, we encountered this daily when we were cruising full-time by those who simply could not sail their boats and were enslaved to their instruments. However, there is a time in some sailors evolution when their concept of sailing changes from a frenetic recreation of the space ship Endeavour to a more subtle, harmonious form of sailing: reading wind, waves, sails, movement of the boat through the water. And, as some have mentioned, I believe these instruments are indispensable for the racing sailor who needs to maximize every 1/4 knot out of his boat but is really not necessary for a cruising sailor unless time demands dictate this mentality? Personality drives the way we talk, work, recreate and sail. It is genetically encoded at birth. There are some very capable mariners on this Forum who clearly have a penchant for technology and have sailed many miles with these incredible devices. And, there are also some among us who seek simplicity and oneness with their experiences with as few devices as possible. I suppose it's why some choose to play an electric guitar while others prefer an acoustic instrument. It's all music, it's just that the process and message are worlds apart. Good luck and safe sailing.
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Old 23-06-2017, 14:12   #15
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Re: Are Speed Logs and Wind Speed Instruments Obsolete?

Yeah I would echo that cruisers are wise to get a little racing practice or sail trim theory. It could make a difference someday when you are trying to outrun something or get into an anchorage before dark. I met a gentleman once who was so proud that he had made it across the channel here in 7 hours! (to go 25 miles? in a 30 ft boat?)
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