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Old 06-04-2010, 20:24   #1
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What Is the Best Cruising Speed when on Passage Offshore ?

The first thing I hear about any sailing design is how fast it sails. Generally the discussion heads in the direction that faster is better.

On board Exit Only, we never felt that fast was better. We felt that comfortable and safe was better. That meant that we sailed an average of 150 miles a day which was "no bruising cruising" on our catamaran. We could have gone faster and farther each day, but it was just too much work and too uncomfortable to worship at the altar of speed.

I sailed Exit Only comfortably at eight knots day and night. That was our best cruising speed when sailing offshore.

What is the best cruising speed when sailing offshore on your yacht? Is faster better or does comfort rule supreme?
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Old 06-04-2010, 20:36   #2
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Im with you Dave,comfortable and safe is better
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Old 07-04-2010, 06:32   #3
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150nm/day is averaging just over 6kts, not 8. We also find ourselves slowing the boat down for more comfortable cruising over speed.

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Old 07-04-2010, 06:56   #4
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150 miles a day is not slow. It's a very good pace for a cruising boat on a long passage. It means 8 knots much of the time (even though the average is six-ish). Few boats and crews are able to do much better than that consistently, even working hard and in good conditions.

I don't think you've made a case that faster isn't better. Faster of course is better. It's just a question of how fast, and how hard you're willing to push to achieve it. If you can make 150 miles a day consistently without pushing -- well, bully for you.
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Old 07-04-2010, 08:18   #5
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The faster the better , provided the boat and crew can handle the speed safely.... for me the only reasons to slow down are
1 , waiting for daylight to make a particular landfall or another timing issue like a lifting bridge.
2 , need to make some repair/adjustment /maneuver that I can't make at full bore
3 , need to ease the stress on either boat or crew

I have a friend , delivery captain on long hauls , who always sails with the first reef in the main. . There are good reasons for that , but it still boggles my mind as I'm always trying to learn how to make the boat go as fast as safely possible...
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Old 07-04-2010, 08:33   #6
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Although a perfect day for me would be about 175nm, I'll take 150nm days whenever they come my way.

When I started cruising I kept pushing for the magical 200nm day, but at that point I'm exhausting myself and the crew. It's really not worth it on a passage to try to keep a boat going faster than 8 knots. We no longer run the gennaker after sunset, as a general rule, and if I never see another 200nm day, I'm fine with that. Once was enough.

I must confess to getting itchy if it drops below 125nm. Hard to keep the boat happy at under 5 knots.
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Old 07-04-2010, 09:58   #7
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As the OPs origional post, a 150 day with the option to go faster if needed..
Thats the ticket...as 150 per day is not slow by any means.. even at an average of 6 knots with a few 8 knot areas...
The difference is going at 3 to 4 knots with spurts of 5 or 6..
But most all that have cruised at 6 to 8 knots average at that speed find it comfortable.. And its not that you have to go faster than that, BUT you have the ability to go faster if needed...
If you are closing on an anchorage and you know that by tightening up a little, you can make the anchorage befor dark, you'll kick it in the Butt to do so. Or if you know the Lows are building and you need to get a couple hundred miles south over the next day or so, you have the ability to do so..
Its much safer to get the hell out of the way instead of heaving to and riding the storm out.
We that own more of a performance boat, or a multi hull, know there is comfort in finding the "Sweet" spot in speed.. and it might change depending on wind and sea conditions, but the One thing we have in common is finding safety for Ourselves and our crew by avoiding adverse conditions with the avalable option of "Speed"
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Old 07-04-2010, 10:48   #8
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I'm with you. The "best" speed is the one that balances safety, comfort, and time to get there in the way that YOU want to balance those things.

If you really, really need to get there quickly then you might sacrifice some comfort (some might even sacrifice safety, but I wouldn't). Same thing might apply if you are trying to outrun a storm.

In the end, though, going as fast as possible is not the point (unless you are racing). Life is always a matter of balancing pros and cons, and in this case each cruiser needs to find their own balance between time, comfort, and safety.
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Old 07-04-2010, 11:09   #9
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My boat would require a water fall to get even close to 8kts but has safely crossed some very large water. Speed is great but is NOT required to cross oceans safely. In fact I would suggest that making extra speed puts the boat at more risk since mostly things break when they are being pushed closer to their limit.

I love my 140% when its needed but prefer to loose a few tenths and enjoy the ride using the 100%. It's just way less stress on me and the boat. It's also not likely my slow little boat is going to out run much of anything so I do have to plan better and pay more attention to weather..............m
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Old 07-04-2010, 12:51   #10
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I don't have much experience with long ocean passages. But when island hopping the Caribbean, we definitely opted for comfort. We pretty much had a permanent reef in mainsail and considered 7 hours at 6 kts and 10 degree heel to be more desireable than 6 hours at 7 kts and 15+ degree heel. If we had the time we would fall off for a long tack rather than close haul it for several hours.

I sailed as part of a 5 man crew on a Hunter 40 from Cape May to Bermuda. We made the crossing in 94 hours under a surprising variety of conditions. Most of the crew were yacht club racers who took sail trim very seriously and clearly wanted to get the most out of the boat. It wasn't exactly uncomfortable. In fact, it was fun. But, it was exhausting, and even with a 5 man crew I would not want to spend 3 weeks sailing that way.
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Old 07-04-2010, 13:31   #11
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We're happy to make 7 or a 170 miles a day. If we push we can average a bit higher but it's not a race so why bother.
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Old 07-04-2010, 13:43   #12
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Quote:
In fact I would suggest that making extra speed puts the boat at more risk since mostly things break when they are being pushed closer to their limit.
Theres a BIG misconception there about loads on a boat and a faster boat is loaded more than a slower boat..
The improved designs of the preformance boat will take the same wind conditions and move the boat faster throu the water and dropping the loads on the boat and its rigging.. Its the slower boat that does not move with wind that has heavier wind loads..
This is seen with any boat while healing, as the boat increses speed, the load is decreesed and the boat flattens out..
A performance hull moves through the water with less effort, less stress, and more comfort per conditions than a slower or heavier boat..
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Old 07-04-2010, 17:55   #13
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It's really not worth it on a passage to try to keep a boat going faster than 8 knots.
hmm... I would have a hard time keeping it under 8 knots, which is to show that it all depends on the boat. Some are fast and some are slow and some in between.

We do 200-250 nm per 24 hours on average. I know (cruising) boats that do well over 300 nm. At 8 knots avg. you would be doing 192nm, not bad ;-) So you must mean 6.25 knots avg to make 150nm days.

For cruising medium to heavy displacement mono hulls, an avg. speed of the sq.rt. of the waterline is great. Light to ultra-light displacement should do 20% more. (K=1.2)

cheers,
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Old 07-04-2010, 19:54   #14
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And Nick's report just shows how hard it is to quantify such things. How big is your boat? Is it light or heavy for it's 'size'? How easy is it to handle the sails? How experienced or comfortable is the crew and skipper? Are you sailing the downwind trade routes or high latitudes? and so on and so on.....

Tell me again... should I go mono or multihull and should I use one of those new fangled Roc-Naz???

But it's still fun to add our two cents and opinions....
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Old 08-04-2010, 08:06   #15
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Originally Posted by cchesley View Post
And Nick's report just shows how hard it is to quantify such things. How big is your boat? Is it light or heavy for it's 'size'? How easy is it to handle the sails? How experienced or comfortable is the crew and skipper? Are you sailing the downwind trade routes or high latitudes?
And Nicks Boat is not a rare breed when it comes to speed.. 8 knots is a very doable and comfortable speed, and we often run up around 10 to 12 without pushing it.. Hell, for that matter, we motor at 7 knots..
Our boat falls into a mid-weight boat for its size.. for a 42, the book says 18k but across the scale when it was empty, it weighed in at 24k..
Handling, its just my wife and I, and most of the time she's below deck working in the kitcken cooking or on some project, so I'd say ours is single-handed most of the time..And I'm 58 so I'm no spring chicken..
Actually we went out last week and while we wer screeming up the river under full sail, she was down below baking a cake..
The only point of sail the boat does NOT like to sail is dead down wind in following seas, but cracking off a few degrees, she comes to life..
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