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Old 18-09-2007, 03:36   #31
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Risk dramatically increases when sailing more than 24 - 72 hours from shore. Marine* weather predictions of dangerous events are extremely accurate for up to 12 hours, and very accurate to 24 hours in advance. Forecasts are fairly accurate through 3 day periods.

*It should be understood that the accuracy of forecasts is much higher over the Mid-Northern Continental latitudes, than those over Oceans and Lower Latitudes, favoured by cruisers and passagemakers.

***

In general, it is probably safe to say that the shorter the time period and the more limited the geographic area involved, the more accurate a weather forecast is likely to be. It is known from theoretical studies that the limit for which useful forecasts of daily weather can be made is of the order of 10 to 14 days ahead. This theoretical limit considerably exceeds the present practical limit of 5 to 7 days.

For periods of less than a day, a forecast covering an area of 100 sq mi (259 sq km) is likely to be quite dependable. Prediction of hazardous conditions is a process that reflects growing uncertainty as forecast lead time increases.

Until recently, four days was the practical limit for predicting the general weather outlook, with a higher accuracy than “persistence*”.
* Persistence models suggests that the weather will continue the same as it is now.

Clearly there have been significant upgrades in forecasting during the last two decades. It's no surprise that these improvements have coincided with dramatic increases in computing power that allow forecasters to run complicated models on supercomputers.
These better computers & models have allowed us to extend the useful outlook to about seven days; but the last three days remain somewhat experimental.

The American Meteorological Society has compiled some information about the accuracy of weather forecasts, and released it as part of an official statement on the science of forecasting.

Excerpted fron:
Weather Analysis and Forecasting ~ American Meteorological Society AMS Statement on Weather Analysis and Forecasting

• The 2006 average 48-hour forecast hurricane track error in the Atlantic basin was 111 miles, as compared with 336 miles in 1985.

• Three-day forecasts of 1 inch or more of precipitation are as accurate as two-day forecasts were in 1998.

• The skill of operational forecasts of U.S. temperature and precipitation for an average of 6-10 days has more than doubled since the 1970s.

• Winter storm watch lead time for the season ending in 2006 was 17 hours, an increase of 70 percent since 1999.

• 48-hour precipitation forecasts are now as accurate as 24-hour forecasts were a decade ago.

• The skill of monthly and three-monthly forecasts of average temperature and precipitation approximately doubled between 1995 and 2006.
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Old 18-09-2007, 04:57   #32
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Offshore boats are aside from being stoutly built are well founded and properly geared up for offshore work. This may mean that you can find a vessel with a basic strong hull and stout rig which you can can turn into an offshore boat... but not any one will do.

If this is your goal, then a strong boat and work on it, as you hone your own sailing skills. After a few years you can be ready to go offshore. I suppose this can be compressed if you make this a full time effort.

I started with a new factory built boat, and the surveyor told me at the time that the boat COULD go offshore if I made the additions and modifications to it. I bought it and worked on it for 6 years before I did the Marion Bermuda Race and then I felt comfortable with the offshore. Since that time I have done thousands of miles of shore, shorthanded, single handed and with crew. Now I am sailing coastal basically with the same boat.

Go for it.

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Old 19-09-2007, 11:02   #33
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There is something to the difference between being close to a safe harbor and being days away from one. That something is fatigue. My experience of being on passages where other boats went on to reefs or beaches (and many near misses), the main culprit was nearly always an exhausted skipper and crew, rather than boat failure. Myself, I have not been on a cruising leg where a boat was lost in deep water. Several boats I knew of first hand got into trouble from coming inshore to get some rest, when they were having no trouble with their boat handling the off shore conditions. They fouled on lobster pots, fishing nets, unmarked rocks, and made navigational errors. The switch from a coastal cruising boat to an offshore boat, to me, requires as much a commitment to strong self steering as to rig strength. That undersized tiller pilot is going to sink your boat way more often than a mast failure, IMHO. You can protect your rig by reducing sail; you just can’t make good decisions staying awake for 48 hours. For me, unless you have a crew of four or more, I wouldn’t consider a boat blue water ready, that didn’t allow the crew and me to get enough rest, so that we could maintain proper watches and make safe choices. I broke a boom in half, one day out of Cocos Keeling, and chose to continue on to Chagos and the Seychelles, without any real difficulty. A fitting broke on my wind vane steering after we left the Seychelles, and we turned around and waited for the part to come in. I felt safer sailing a long distance with a damaged spar than I did attempting it without self steering.
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Old 19-09-2007, 12:22   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Jennings View Post
(Warning: Newbie Questions Ahead!)

Okay, the main difference between a coastal cruiser and a blue water (offshore) cruiser is typically one of sturdiness, yes? An offshore boat is built to take more of a pounding (from what I've read).

So here's my question -- if you're getting your feet wet (hopefully only as a figure of speech) with a coastal cruiser, how far out do you typically go? I mean, if you're hopping down the West Coast, for example, how far offshore would be "normal" when going from one anchorage to the next?

Are you out far enough that you don't see land?

Does offshore typically just mean that you're crossing an ocean?

Thanks!

Jay Jennings
I think Off shore is when you cannot get back in 10 hours. Once night has come , many new sailors get cold feet. out of range of VHF, and out of the sight of land, anything can happen. especially if you have children, and elderly people on board. 10 hours away from land, a injury, heart attack, or man-over-board is a real situation which will need all your expiriance to get the right decision on this situation, no matter how big your boat is!
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Old 28-09-2007, 09:09   #35
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With out regards to the boat type issues, when you can see the coast you are coastal cruising, and when you can't see the coast you are offshore or in a fog bank or in a very dark night, and hope your offshore :^P
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Old 29-09-2007, 01:24   #36
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Modified from the International Sailing Federation's Offshore Special Regulations:

Category 0
Trans-oceanic voyages, including voyages which pass
through areas in which air or sea temperatures are
likely to be less than 5 degrees Celsius other than
temporarily, where yachts must be completely selfsufficient
for very extended periods of time, capable of
withstanding heavy storms and prepared to meet
serious emergencies without the expectation of
outside assistance.

Category 1
Voyages of long distance and well offshore, where
yachts must be completely self-sufficient for extended
periods of time, capable of withstanding heavy storms
and prepared to meet serious emergencies without
the expectation of outside assistance.

Category 2
Voyages of extended duration along or not far removed
from shorelines or in large unprotected bays or lakes,
where a high degree of self-sufficiency is required of
the yachts.

Category 3
Voyages across open water, most of which is relatively
protected or close to shorelines.

Category 4
Short voyages, close to shore in relatively warm or
protected waters normally held in daylight.


In addition, here are some of the factors I would consider:

(1) how long would it take you to sail to a safe harbor? For many, more than half a day away might be considered "offshore."

(2) can you still hear VHF shore stations, such as NOAA weather? If so, then it is likely that the USCG would be able to receive your VHF distress call (without need for SSB or EPIRB...).

(3) are you within range of rescue? The USCG rescue helicopters have a range of about 325 miles out from their base.

So, sailing more than 300 or 400 miles from the nearest safe harbor involves real commitment -- that's Category 1. Note that the both the Newport-Bermuda Race and the Marion-Bermuda Race, mentioned earlier in this thread, are considered Category 1, and the boats that participate in either of these events have met rigorous requirements for design, construction, equipment, and crew training, and would definitely be considered offshore boats rather than coastal cruisers.


Another way of thinking about this question is to ask what is passagemaking (regardless of whether we're talking coastal or offshore)...

To me, a passage means sailing continuously from Point A to Point B, where the two points are sufficiently far apart that the sail should take at least 24 hours (typically 100 miles or more), such that it entails establishing some sort of rotating watch schedule, however informal it might be.

Now, to me, actually "going somewhere" means making a continuous passage of about a weeks duration or so (say on the order of 750 miles).

Ultimately, however, I think a true "bluewater" passage requires getting well beyond the edge of the Continental Shelf, something I haven't yet had the pleasure of...


How does this translate into boat choices? I think the boat you buy should match your expected use of it -- d
ecide what kind of sailing you want to do, and then get a boat that is appropriate for that sailing. There is no need for a boat set up for Category 1 sailing if your expected use is more along the lines of Category 3 or 4...

If (when?), as you gain experience, the sailing you would like to do evolves to more demanding levels, then you can either modify your existing boat to meet those demands, or sell it and buy another boat better suited. With your new experience you'll be in a better position to evaluate the capabilities of different boats, including the one you already own.

Regards,

Tim
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Old 29-09-2007, 18:28   #37
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Tim - That's a nice set of categories. Of course categorizing the passage is part one. It seems we get very hung up on what boat "fits" which categories.

Plenty of room to discuss...
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Old 30-09-2007, 06:14   #38
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Quote:
It seems we get very hung up on what boat "fits" which categories.
We get hung up about a lot of things here. It's OK we usually work through them. Categories tend to make something more complicated instead of less complicated. So we have 5 categories but they start numbering at zero. This should be the first tip off that it's headed poorly.

Category 0: Water less than 5 degress C is a wanna be hockey rink. If it gets less than 10 you should be able to see the parking lot for the ice areana with good binnoculars. You have made a serious navigation error. All the rest of the categories make a big deal about going some place you don't want to go.

The categories really don't tell us anything about what we need to bring, how far we can go, how much stuff will fit in the boat, or if we know how to sail. Being based on how quick we can get ashore seems silly. Not every place on shore is welcome. The real goal isn't about getting ashore fast it's about leaving shore as soon as we can. The categories seem based on doing something quickly we really want to do slowly.

There is another category 6 - We started out on a trip and ended up in the wrong category without a passport or enough pizza.

The category works like this. We didn't know where we were going. We had the GPS but we never set a destination because we didn't have one. We had to go ashore where we didn't have a visa and they wanted to put us in jail. We made a quick get away and forgot to restock the pizza. We still don't know where we are going but we are making great time without enough food and going back to shore could be more dangerous than where we are headed.

Most of sailing is knowing where you want to go and figuring out the best way to get there. Planning ahead means you thought about the limitations of the boat, crew, and skipper. You considered the requirements of the trip and stocked enough provisions. Most cruising is not about cruising offshore but about anchoring near shore. You need the bigger anchor more than you need the bigger boat. It's about knowing where you are going not how quickly you can get someplace you don't want to go. There are no categories.
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Old 30-09-2007, 07:57   #39
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Most of sailing is knowing where you want to go and figuring out the best way to get there. Planning ahead means you thought about the limitations of the boat, crew, and skipper.
Well put. I believe that it was the mountaineer, Corad Anker, that said "If you are having an adventure you did not plan properly." Is this the line between the 'Adventurer' and the 'Foolhardy'?
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Old 30-09-2007, 08:33   #40
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Quote:
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The categories seem based on doing something quickly
Well the ISAF categories are intended for describing races. I modified them by substituting the word "voyage" for "race."

Category 0 was probably added after the other categories were already defined, and it was likely developed to describe the round-the-world races that spend a lot of time in the southern ocean. And just because you are not interested in high-latitude cruising doesn't mean that aren't others who are.

But you are correct that neat little boxes are not always adequate, there is a continuum of voyaging.

BTW, I prefer this definition of adventure: "a daring and exciting activity calling for enterprise and enthusiasm" -- in other words, and adventure is something that you do plan for!
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Old 30-09-2007, 10:45   #41
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Well the ISAF categories are intended for describing races. I modified them by substituting the word "voyage" for "race."
Racers need rules else they would likely kill themselves and give the sponsors bad publicity. Losing a race crew is never desirable but giving a sponsor bad publicity could cause the people that run the race to be out of a job. The rules are to protect the sponsors, not the racers.

There are no rules for cruising because there are no sponsors. It's more about knowing your limitations without finding them out. Finding out usually does not end well.

Quote:
Is this the line between the 'Adventurer' and the 'Foolhardy'?
Seems good to me as a rule of thumb to me. When you are no longer having fun it may also be a clue you have not planned well. Being foolhardy crosses beyond the line of no longer having fun. When it's not fun may be the better barometer since it may not be "foolhardy" at that point. Foolhardy implies you have already jumped off the cliff and are hoping you are lucky enough to stop before you hit the bottom. Being lucky has saved many fools. Life is not always fair.
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Old 26-03-2017, 03:16   #42
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Re: How Far Offshore is Offshore?

[QUOTE=Jay Jennings;101105]

Hello Jay

This is a great question. There seems to be a fair bit of debate regarding this matter.

I published a podcast that I recorded with a navy mate who I worked with on one of three Hydrographic survey ships. He recently acquired a 25 foot Top Hat which they needed to sail 515 miles from Sydney to Brisbane, Australia.

I claimed their sail was offshore. One of my Ferry Master mates questioned it through the site's facebook page. He said, "Coastal sail more like it champ".

This was my reply;
Hey Rod, thanks for the comment.
Here's how I see the difference between COASTAL, OFFSHORE and OCEAN sailing.

COASTAL SAILING is in sea's that are protected by offshore land masses or reefs. These, knockback ocean swells and often reduce wave height due to reduced fetch. Horizontal water movement is affected by tidal streams in coastal environments.

OFFSHORE SAILING is when you are exposed to the full force of the ocean swells, currents, and local tidal streams. If the wind is onshore, wind wave height is governed by the wind strength, currents, and tidal streams.

OCEAN SAILING is self-explanatory in that you are open to the full force of the elements, wind waves and currents.

Tidal streams are associated with the rise and fall of the tide height around land masses. Tidal range in the ocean tends to be small so tidal streams become insignificant.

OFFSHORE sailing is, in my opinion, the most demanding in that you often have to deal with currents, tidal streams, ocean swells, unrestricted fetch, land, and increased shipping.

One bonus is you don't have to deal with ferry masters so much when offshore. Mate look forward to seeing you again one day."

I wrote this instinctively based on 15 years as a Hydrographic Surveyor, 12 years answering questions from multiple crews as RNZN Sailing Master, family ocean cruiser, also Ferry Master, and engineer.

Then I thought I wonder what the net is saying. I searched "Offshore Cruising definition" and ended up here.

To me, it makes sense to define these terms in relation to the things that affect cruisers the most. The combination of wind, waves, swells, tidal streams, and currents.

I'm working on my next blog post for ToSeeTheSea.com and hope to define Coastal Cruising, Offshore Cruising, and Ocean Cruising in a simple dictionary-style definition.

You're welcome to visit.

I welcome your thoughts.

Lindsay
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Old 26-03-2017, 07:50   #43
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Re: How Far Offshore is Offshore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jentine View Post
My insurance company defines it as 50 miles. All else is coastal.

OK, that is a definition. Anything else is personal opinion and when it's all said and done (three pages from now), it will still be personal opinion.
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Old 26-03-2017, 08:03   #44
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pirate Re: How Far Offshore is Offshore?

Mine is 400miles offshore.. so for example if I sail from Fig da Foz to the Azores I do not lose cover for the trip as I'm never more than 400 miles from land.. most EU companies set a limit of 200nm to the best of my knowledge.
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Old 26-03-2017, 13:34   #45
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Re: How Far Offshore is Offshore?

I understand the need to draw an arbitrary line in the sand when it comes to insurance. Insurance companies are run by bean counters, who don't like things that can't easily be measured or difined. So they make up stuff that simply does not make sense to a Mariner.
But for the yachtsman in his newly acquired 25 foot Top Hat keel boat, it's different. As soon as he is outside Sydney Harbour with a 35 knot south easterly blowing in from the Tasman Sea there is no doubt in his mind he is in offshore conditions. His boat had better be offshore capable or no amount of insurance payout will matter to him.
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