"And if someone's going to state the calms are too unpredictable and the current will send such a boat out of control, that's appreciated, but details on how unpredictable the calms are, how the tidal currents move on a small scale, and how the hull
profile and rowing setup effect versatileness, would be better. Same thing with moorages, anchorages
, and marina setups. What circumstances would make that use of such places too hard?"
Started sailing out of Bellingham, WA in 1972 - have covered every mile and anchorage from Shelton, WA/Allyn, WA to north of Cape Scott many times in many boats.
"details on how unpredictable the calms are, how the tidal currents move on a small scale"
Sailing in light winds in a 32' boat with friend on their 26' boat 30 meters to port - strongish currents and light winds in 100 meter wide channel. Very suddenly the 26' boat spun around and proceeded the opposite direction with backed sails
. This continued for 30 seconds, they spun around again, and then proceeded to come sailing back past us.
Trying to motor
(sailing would have been even tougher) thru a 200 meter wide channel (Cattle Pass) and making very little progress. Moved 50 meters toward center of channel and current almost vanished.
Sailing thru 400 meter wide channel (between Mayne and Galiano I think) with current pushing us - came around point with 45 degree course change - current suddenly pushed us toward center of channel and into path of BC Ferry
. Tacked away from Ferry
but current continued to set us into path of Ferry. Five annoyed horn blasts and we started the engine
to move away.
Waiting to enter narrow fast pass (Dodd) - opposing wind/current - nasty wave action. Hove to for an hour - as our hove to boat moved a little the current carried us hundreds of meters various directions - sometimes in a circle.
Trying to enter narrow dock
on the island (Victoria) - no current to within 10 meters of dock
then a sudden 2 knot
current at right angle to dock.
Strong easy sailing winds in Nootka Sound as we entered from the Ocean - rounded the point to enter the anchorage east of the small island and it was like someone shut the wind door - in a matter of 10 meters wind went from NW 15 to negative 0.
Took my dinghy
1.5 miles south of where the boat was anchored (West Sound on Orcas) in order to get cell reception
would not start on return trip and by then the sun had set. Tried to row back but current carried me 1/2 mile east of anchored boat - had to then row another 1/2 mile to get close to shore to work back-eddy so I could eventually row to the anchored boat.
Dozens of races where we had to anchor
mid-channel for six hours waiting for the current to change so we could continue without the motor. This points out what I think is the biggest problem with no motor/rowing:
The tides/currents change every three to four hours (Slack/ebb/slack/flood twice a day) so the window of opportunity is often very short and you can not make many miles AND at the end of the window you need to be someplace you can drop anchor
. Often, especially after an ebb, you cannot get into the anchorage because of the last of the ebb pushing you out.
Winds are very localized and special local knowledge is essential. When we race
we know that 100 meters difference in location, relative to a hill or point, can make a huge difference in both wind power and direction.
For example, onshore winds lift
off the surface at a distance 7 times the height of the obstacle. So, when trying to sail into a cove or anchorage it is common to lose the wind at some considerable distance from the entrance.
When sailing near islands (like almost all the time) the wind is best well away from shore but that is also where the current is often the strongest.
But, winds parallel to shore are frequently strengthened and bend as they approach shore.
Many times I have been sailing along with a big/light Code 0 up and rounded a point into a channel with a different orientation to the wind and had the Code 0 nearly destroyed by the shifted and strengthened wind.
Sailing NNE in Boundry Pass south of S Pender and then heading NW into Thumper Pass is a classic example on a NW wind - light and easy in Boundry and whistling down Thumper at 25 knots on the nose.
Almost went aground on the shoals between Skipjack and Orcas Island - sailing nicely on a NW wind with the Code 0 - got into the tide rip on those shoals, pushed too close to Orcas by the current and the wind lifted off the water
because of the high Orcas hills - I was very glad I had a motor.
Another huge obstacle to motorless sailing would be entering/departing anchorage. The best anchorages, at least in my opinion after many thousands of nights on the hook, are surrounded by hills / land masses which prevent swells/boat wakes from disturbing the anchorage. For example Fossil Bay on Succia, Ganges, Selby Cove, James Bay, Bedwell, Prevost, Reid harbors. Most of those locations have lots of anchored boats, many have mooring
balls, and very flukey and fickle winds with currents moving all about.
Getting a motorless boat thu that maze and adverse sailing would be a challenge even if there were not the idiots in their dinghies getting in your way. So - how do you enter/exit those types of harbor/anchorage ?
I do a lot of single
handed sailing in our forty foot sloop
and frequently sail onto and off the hook/mooring ball but only in open anchorages where I have room to maneuver.
Another question - I set the anchor by motoring in reverse against the anchor at 3000 RPM
- with my 18" Maxprop that is about the equivalent of a 30 - 35 knot
wind. Once set that way - I sleep soundly. How does a motorless boat set their anchor? Just dropping it is not very reassuring and in a calm