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Old 01-07-2009, 20:33   #1
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High Latitude vs Low Latitude Sailing

I confess to having a bias against high latitude sailing. My delusional system tells me that as long as you stay away from hurricanes, and cyclones, offshore cruising in the low latitudes is safer than offshore sailing in high latitudes. When I read accounts of yachts in trouble, it seems that yachts experience less strife in the lower latitudes. That's one of the reasons I did a tradewind circumnavigation - to cruise in the low latitudes where I felt safer.

For the purpose of my question - I am considering low latitude sailing as tradewind sailing. I am considering high latitude sailing as being signicantly north or south of the tradewinds.

Rogue waves tend to be more frequent in higher latitudes. Intense localized low pressure areas can be frequent in the higher latitudes.

So what is the consensus. Which is safer? High latitude or low latitude when you are sailing offshore?
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Old 01-07-2009, 21:06   #2
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Are you looking for a statistical basis for your query or just a general consensus?
For me, I think the further offshore you are, the safer you are in general. I like deep water in general and sea room after that. I have only encountered one what I would call a rogue wave and that was 150 nm offshore of Kodiak island, so I guess that would be considered high latitude. For general living conditions, I believe somewhere between 15* and 30* is about perfect climate wise, as long as there are mango trees some where close.
Some of the snottyest weather I have encountered has been in the Gulf of Mexico, not really dangerous, just uncomfortable.
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Old 01-07-2009, 21:34   #3
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A general consensus works for me.

When I sailed twice to New Zealand, I did higher latitude sailing that was more challenging dealing with the intense lows coming off the Tasman and up from the southern ocean. Every time I sailed to New Zealand, I felt like I was dodging bullets.

I always felt better when I reached 18 degrees south, and I was getting back into the trade winds when heading north from New Zealand. The only time I ever used the parachute sea anchor was 300 miles north of New Zealand.

I have not done much high latitude sailing. I have stayed away from it because it is colder and I felt more risky. I could be totally wrong about the risk thing.
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Old 01-07-2009, 22:45   #4
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Aloha Dave,
I think I understand your comment. I've just been reading "Godforsaken Sea" and it talks about high latitude sailling in the southern ocean around the major capes. Personally, sailing in seas 5 and 6 stories high scares the beejeemers out of me. I don't ever want to do that but high latitudes in the Pacific Northwest is an entirely different story. Very nice sailing in the Puget Sound and north in the inland passage which is 48 degrees plus.
I had a friend loose his mainsail to the Tasman. At least when it blew out the mast wasn't in as much danger.
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Old 01-07-2009, 23:16   #5
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I think the 16 years in Arabia finished me off for cold weather. I'm going to have to bundle up with warm clothes and try the higher latitudes.
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Old 01-07-2009, 23:46   #6
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Above the 75 F degree line is the best area to cruise. It has been referred to as the mango belt.
It’s the safest for the following reasons;
Plenty of good food of all varieties readily available in most ports
Numerous ports
Numerous anchorages that are not so deep to strain the windlass or your back.
Numerous services that do not strain the pocketbook, cleaning, scraping, sanding, painting
No need for all that foul weather gear or for that mater much in the way of clothing
Interesting scenery

The only drawback is the wind always seems to come from the east, most annoying.
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Old 02-07-2009, 03:52   #7
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Good question Maxing, I have always assumed Low was intrinsically safer than High especially Southern Ocean.

All my previous sailing has been Low (except for a Tasman Sea crossing - Brisbane to Auckland) but as I am planing a 1500 nm trip from West Australia to Tasmania around 40 S, this is a question that runs in the background of my mind.
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Old 02-07-2009, 19:41   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wotname View Post
Good question Maxing, I have always assumed Low was intrinsically safer than High especially Southern Ocean.

All my previous sailing has been Low (except for a Tasman Sea crossing - Brisbane to Auckland) but as I am planing a 1500 nm trip from West Australia to Tasmania around 40 S, this is a question that runs in the background of my mind.
The Bass Straits already have my attention.
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Old 02-07-2009, 19:44   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mesquaukee View Post
Above the 75 F degree line is the best area to cruise. It has been referred to as the mango belt.
Itís the safest for the following reasons;
Plenty of good food of all varieties readily available in most ports
Numerous ports
Numerous anchorages that are not so deep to strain the windlass or your back.
Numerous services that do not strain the pocketbook, cleaning, scraping, sanding, painting
No need for all that foul weather gear or for that mater much in the way of clothing
Interesting scenery

The only drawback is the wind always seems to come from the east, most annoying.
I never looked at things that way. 75 degrees F and above sound great to me.

This deal about the winds always blowing from east to west is one of my favorite things. It's a great excuse to sail around the world. Imagine talking to the First Mate, "Dang it, the wind is still coming from the east. It looks like the only thing we can do is sail to Australia."
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Old 03-07-2009, 02:16   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxingout View Post
The Bass Straits already have my attention.
Mine too which is why I am planning to avoid it although as I am planning to arrive in Hobart, there is no need to enter Bass Strait.
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Old 03-07-2009, 06:08   #11
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Beth Leonard paraphrased Denton Moore’s “Gentlemen Never Sail to Weather”; adding, “if ... they must never leave the tropics”.

Both good advice, IMHO!

* Gentlemen Never Sail to Weather : The Story of an Accidental Odyssey ~ by Denon R. Moore
The Voyager's Handbook ~ by Beth A. Leonard

Someone else once wrote that “'A gentleman never goes to sea without a piano”. Anyone recall which idiot that was?
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