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Old 16-02-2014, 07:45   #1
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Current, vs wind, vs boat direction?

I've been trying to learn about how to sail in the ocean or under severe conditions, just to be prepared, and I want to get as much info from here, before I head out. I won't go looking for bad weather, mind you, but I want to be prepared.

This is what I understand so far, let me know if it's right.

Don't let the boat get hit by a big wave beam on or it could capsize, so it may be required that I approach my destination at an angle, like tacking. (that headbanger icon has to go, too distracting). Also dont let a wave break over the stern, or I get wet, or somehow it's not good for the boat.

Don't sail straight down a wave, or I could pitchpole.

If it's dark, or I need to rest, I can put the appropriate light on & heave to in the middle of the ocean. But, if the waves are coming at the beam, I will have to either stay awake & steer, or use a sea anchor. Right? If it's dark, and I cannot see which direction the waves are coming from, I use a flashlight, & if I've ran out of juice, maybe I can feel & hear where the waves are coming from? IDK

The sea anchor is mainly attached to the bow, but according to the Perdys, it can also be attached a few feet back from the bow. Maybe it can even be attached to the stern, as long as it keeps the boat from being beam on to the waves and also keeps it from having the stern directly facing the waves.

If I can't afford an expensive sea anchor, I can rig up a tarp, some buckets, some chain, or a sheet to do the same job, something to create drag.

One has to be constantly on the lookout for a rogue wave and ready to keep it from hitting the boat beam-on. Also be vigilant about sudden wind gusts changing wind-direction & uncontrolled gybes.

One also has to steer around sets of breaking waves, or just heave-to & keep the slick behind you, protecting you from breaking waves and also protecting the boat from being hit beam-on.

When you go under bare poles, it's very risky, cause most modern beamy boat designs are likely to turn a boat beam-on to the waves, but the narrower/older boats are relatively safer.

When the sails flap too hard or the boat heels too much, it's time to reef. When I've reefed all 3 levels & the wind's still getting too strong, it's time to remove the sails & batton down the hatch. BTW: I don't know about your hatch, but mine doesn't lock down from the inside :P It could probably just slide open in a storm that was bad enough!

Is any of that incorrect? Is that the main thing to know when caught in severe weather?
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Old 16-02-2014, 08:11   #2
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Re: Current, vs wind, vs boat direction?

That does it, I'm stayin home unless you get a bigger boat.
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Old 16-02-2014, 10:49   #3
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Re: Current, vs wind, vs boat direction?

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Originally Posted by liveaboardL View Post
Is any of that incorrect? Is that the main thing to know when caught in severe weather?
No, basically correct but I think there are a few areas you might want to look a bit more into.
  • Drogues vs sea anchors. It looks like you think they are the same thing. Drogues slow you down when you have following seas.
  • Why being swamped from behind is bad.
    1. You lose control and frequently broach
    2. You are then set up to be struck form the side by the next few waves
    3. You run the risk of having tons of water flood the cockpit and, if you don't have covers in the hatchway, below decks.
Now, spend a moment thinking about what would happen.
  • When to reef (waiting till things are flapping out of control is akin to thinking about when is the best point you plan to jump out of a moving car -- only after you're going more the 20 mph. In other words, reef earlier than you think you'll need to.)
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Old 16-02-2014, 12:25   #4
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Re: Current, vs wind, vs boat direction?

I would not exactly call that boat "beamy." She's only 9'8". Kinda narrow for her length. Also, the main on that boat has only 2 reef points, not 3. Unless you've replaced it that is. That boat will handle a sea fairly well. Once she's refitted. I wouldn't take her out beyond the breakwater in her current condition. At the least get her hauled and a survey done before attempting to take her out of the harbor.

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Old 16-02-2014, 19:19   #5
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Re: Current, vs wind, vs boat direction?

You are thinking way too much.

Just get out there an do it. Easy bay hopping at first, then stretch your wings as you gain confidence and experience.
You already know more than you're going to need.

Sailing is getting to know your boat to the point where you feel your way. You get a 6th sense that alerts you when something changes or all is not well. If you head out trying to watch for every wave that might be rogue, or every minor wind shift, you'll be robbing yourself of the sheer enjoyment of being one with the elements.
Be passively aware, but paranoia is going to exhaust you and ruin your judgment.

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Old 16-02-2014, 21:44   #6
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Re: Current, vs wind, vs boat direction?

How bout a good understanding of weather first? Unless you plan to cross an ocean or the Gulf Stream on your first sail you can look up the weather and avoid going into really bad weather. Choose your battles.
That way you can work your way into it.
Although there are general strategies, every boat is different, usually you'd want to experience your boat in increasingly challenging conditions.
I know that when I have gone to a new boat I usually test it in waters close to home under increasingly difficult conditions before doing anything foolhardy and setting out right away in a gale.
It will also give you an increasing amount of experience in handling difficult situations, panic is the cause of more calamities than weather. Most boats are capable of much more than their owners.
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Old 16-02-2014, 22:04   #7
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Re: Current, vs wind, vs boat direction?

The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.

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Old 17-02-2014, 00:19   #8
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Re: Current, vs wind, vs boat direction?

It's not a problem seeing the waves you need to see even on pitchy black nights; they come with glowing white stuff on top. Just avoid using cabin lights, dim the compass bowl (or use tape on it), etc etc, to preserve your night vision.

Before long you'll develop a feel for their intentions which will be accurate enough for government work, most of the time, even without looking.
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Old 17-02-2014, 00:58   #9
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Re: Current, vs wind, vs boat direction?

as some said you are way overthinking this and way too much book learning -- just get out and sail a bit - and with some planning you can avoid really bad wx unless you really plan on sailing into bad wx such as a tropical storm or something similar -

it is one thing to read the books something else to really do it -- we have a drouge and been out 6 years - it is somewhere in a berth and has a lot of dust on it - we heaved to once crossing the atlantic when we both got over tired from doing some dumb stuff - our fault and we could have continued to sail but got to tired -- 6 hrs of sleep and some food and the we were off again and learned to take care of ourselves -
as for reefing our motto is reef early and reef often
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Old 17-02-2014, 19:44   #10
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Re: Current, vs wind, vs boat direction?

Why be afraid of the dark? All the advice on night vision and boat feel are sound, sailing at night is beautiful most of the time, sometimes not.
Once away from the light pollution that is so prevalent on modern land masses I can actually see the stars that I could see in the night skies as a youth.
It's one of the perks. Embrace the night skies.
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Old 17-02-2014, 20:13   #11
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Re: Current, vs wind, vs boat direction?

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Originally Posted by lifeofreilly57 View Post
Why be afraid of the dark? All the advice on night vision and boat feel are sound, sailing at night is beautiful most of the time, sometimes not.
Once away from the light pollution that is so prevalent on modern land masses I can actually see the stars that I could see in the night skies as a youth.
It's one of the perks. Embrace the night skies.
On longer passages we often leave a couple of hours before sunset and set the boat up for an easy first night. Usually heads'l and mizzen and we don't care if we're only doing 4 knots. By morning we're in the rhythm again with the boat settled, and we increase sail as needed.
We do have AIS and radar with alarms set just in case the watch nods off, but we enjoy the nights.

Vic
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Old 17-02-2014, 22:09   #12
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Re: Current, vs wind, vs boat direction?

I just noticed you mentioned trying to keep the boat in the slick.

Post 4 suggests at some time you posted info about your boat and then it got deleted, unless kevin posted in the wrong thread.

Without knowing anything about your boat, I would mention that a slick is barely perceptible, let alone useful, on a boat with anything much short of a full length keel.
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Old 03-03-2014, 11:12   #13
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Re: Current, vs wind, vs boat direction?

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I just noticed you mentioned trying to keep the boat in the slick.

Post 4 suggests at some time you posted info about your boat and then it got deleted, unless kevin posted in the wrong thread.

Without knowing anything about your boat, I would mention that a slick is barely perceptible, let alone useful, on a boat with anything much short of a full length keel.
Andrew, the OP owns my old boat. So I'm pretty familiar with it.
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Old 03-03-2014, 11:56   #14
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Re: Current, vs wind, vs boat direction?

Thanks for clarifying, Kevin.

That particular explanation for your uncanny degree of 'inside knowledge' had not occurred to me!
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Old 03-03-2014, 13:55   #15
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Re: Current, vs wind, vs boat direction?

There are different methods for different conditions and you may need to use all of them in the passage of one storm.
1. Heaving to is a viable scheme when the waves are not breaking, the boat is not in danger of being rolled, and you need to roughly maintain your position. Otherwise, a tactic for a moderate storm. You back the storm jib and put the helm hard over so the boat lies with the bow slightly to windward called fore reaching. Boat will sail, after a fashion, into the storm, motion of the boat will be more bearable, and you won't have anything to do so can stay below and rest. Some boats, especially fin keel types, will not reach a state of equilibrium so can't be hove to.
2. A sea anchor stops the boat dead in the water with minimal drift and is deployed off the bow. Will work if conditions aren't too bad but if waves develop very steep faces and/or are breaking, boat can be thrown backward putting extreme pressures on the rudder and probably disabling it.
3. Drogues deployed from the stern slow the boat down and give directional stability. They can be anything from long lengths of line in a 'U' streamed aft possibly with some old tires added to a commercial drogue of various designs. This system works through a large variety of conditions as the drogue keeps the boat heading down wave and slow enough that it won't bury the bow and broach or pitchpole at the bottom of a wave. It will normally get you through even extreme conditions as long as you have sea room. Problems are if the drogue slows you down too much and waves are too steep, you will be constantly pooped as the waves roll over you. Nice to have a couple of different sized drogues to deploy under different conditions to vary the boats speed to keep water out of the cockpit. You definitely want to be able to secure any way water can get below from the cockpit. No matter how careful you are, you will occasionally get pooped if conditions are bad enough. The main hatch is a big offender and should have barrel boats that can lock it in from sliding from the inside.
4 The last method is to surf the waves. Moitessier did this in a truly horrific storm in the southern ocean and racers have also done it in their 'win at any risk mentality'. It's indicated if the drogue is either slowing you down too much so you are playing submarine, constantly being inundated from the oncoming waves, or the drogue isn't slowing you enough and there is the danger of broaching/pitchpoling. This requires a very good helmsman and a boat with very good rudder control. Essentially you steer the boat at an angle to the oncoming waves and surf down the face. It's dangerous as a miscalculation can leave you broadside to a breaking wave or bury the bow and pitchpole. Need to be able to sense the waves and be very alert. Usually not a big thing on a racing boat with large crew so the helmsman can be rotated out regularly. A truly herculean undertaking for a short handed/solo cruising boat, however. Read Moitessier's book, Cape Horn, the Logical Route. to get a feel for the conditions where this might be the only choice.

Kevin, don't hold out. What kind of boat is the O/P sailing.
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