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Old 23-07-2012, 10:01   #16
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

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Originally Posted by terminalcitygrl View Post
Is sailing the PNW, maybe a trip to Alaska or down the US coast to Mexico considered open ocean or coastal sailing? Is the defining characteristic x # of nm from shore or something else?
There is no strict definition that I know of. Two quite common ones would be a) out of sight of land at deck level on a clear day at noon, and b) more than 24 hours sailing (not motoring) time away from shore.

Others involve being beyond the continental shelf or being subject to purely oceanic swells and weather, but those are a little too variable and subjective for my tastes.

So if you hugged the coast from Seattle to Alaska, it would be coastal, and a lee shore with complex currents, too. If you booked it out 200 NM West of Vancouver Island, and then headed NNW to southern Alaska, it would be oceanic. In this case, the oceanic route is less picturesque, I suppose, but also less problematic in terms of navigation and traffic.

Now, ask "what is a blue-water boat?" and watch this get shut down faster than a "guns on board beside a Bible" thread.
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Old 23-07-2012, 10:26   #17
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

Exposed to ocean waves and swells = open ocean. Surrounded by land= not.
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Old 23-07-2012, 10:38   #18
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

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Exposed to ocean waves and swells = open ocean. Surrounded by land= not.
I see the common sense behind your post, yet is imprecise:

1. Some enclosed waters like the Baltic and the Rio de la Plata there are plenty of bitchy waves
2. The Atlantic is surrounded by land
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Old 23-07-2012, 10:47   #19
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

Yeah, lots of enclosed waters have bad waves. Not "ocean" though. I suppose it would take a good long writing like a CFR to really define it thouroughly!
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Old 23-07-2012, 10:55   #20
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

I've always self-defined as 50nm from the shore...
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Old 31-07-2012, 16:04   #21
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

anything in the GOM or carribean is coastal crusing .......
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Old 31-07-2012, 16:13   #22
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

gom can be open water--is very deep and can be vicious. is a very difficult body of water to sail. the gunkholing folks usually do in gom is coastal cruising, yes. but when ypu are over the deeps--and the water is cobalt blue--you are not within 1- 2 days' sail to get into a safe harbor---pacific is both coastal and open, depending upon where along this loong lee shore you stay close and where you are out of sight of land.
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Old 31-07-2012, 16:58   #23
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

WHen I go to the 100mile rigs, I still consider myself coastal as I can get back in 24 hours, the 200mile rigs, are an overnight trip at best, thats open ocean.

The definition of being able to evade a storm is not a very precise on either, as I have been 20 miles out and not able to go back as the storm formed between me and the shore.

In most places that would be still on the shelf, so that is a good measure. If you touch shore every 150 miles or less that is coastal hopping.

IN Alaska no less dangerous than deep water in the tropics.
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Old 31-07-2012, 20:50   #24
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

Not that I think that they know much about sailing, but many insurance policies only cover you to 200 or 250 miles from shore.

Parenthetical comment: never understood this approach... they're happy to insure you along the coast where there are rocks, strong currents, lots of traffic (some of which is often inebriated) fog and other real world hazards but get the willies if you want to go to sea where it is relatively hazard free. Go figger!

Back on subject: don't know why one needs to specifically define those terms, and I suspect that each of us would come to a different version. But, if you must have a definition, why I reckon that when you FEEL like you are offshore then you ARE offshore!

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Old 31-07-2012, 21:35   #25
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

Some great answers here! Thanks for sharing your ideas. I wasn't looking for a strict definition but more generally what the common sense consensus is and, well, like most threads on CF, it seems there is no consensus.

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Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
Now, ask "what is a blue-water boat?" and watch this get shut down faster than a "guns on board beside a Bible" thread.
LOL! Okay, this was the actual question in my head - we're trying to decide on the best boat for such a trip - but I knew better than to actually ask that question!

Cheers, TCG
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Old 31-07-2012, 22:56   #26
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

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..Is the defining characteristic x # of nm from shore or something else?
Technically, per USCG & CFR's, "near coastal" is 200 nautical miles or less from shore/COLREGS line.
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Old 31-07-2012, 23:08   #27
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According to us sailing, anything outside 50 nautical miles is offshore/blue water sailing. Anything inside that range is coastal.
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Old 31-07-2012, 23:16   #28
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

The 200-mile near coastal vs. offshore definition also coincides with the "Exclusive economic zones" claimed by many countries and defined by the United Nations. Presumably, if you're outside of any EEZs, you are essentially beyond the influence of land.

From wiki:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi..._World.svg.png
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Old 01-08-2012, 04:52   #29
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

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Originally Posted by MasterMariner View Post
Near coastal is defined by the uscg as 50mi from land anything farther out is ocean travel. If you are going to Alaska you would be better off going to inside passage it is amazing.
Just a point of fact...

The USCG defines NEAR COASTAL, for their licensing purpoes, as 200 miles from a US Shoreline.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) allows countries to define their own Near Coastal Boundries. There is a big dispute over this, because each contry defines Near Coastal differently, causing problems with maritime licensing and vessel inspections.

So if the IMO can't figure it out I don't know if there is a true answer...
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Old 01-08-2012, 06:02   #30
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

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Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post

So if the IMO can't figure it out I don't know if there is a true answer...


There was a UK sailor/writer who's name escapes me but who summed it up very well....

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There's no such thing as a short coastal hop, you are either at sea or you are not.


The sea is the sea no matter how you want to label it.
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