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Old 22-07-2012, 19:30   #1
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How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

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?
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Old 22-07-2012, 19:41   #2
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

seems to be a bit of both and each.....so far, anyway.
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Old 22-07-2012, 20:31   #3
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

I agree with Zee. Probably a bit of both depending on which way you are going. If you are going from Alaska to SoCal, you can pretty much skirt the coast all the way, keeping out far enough for safety's sake (avoiding coastal traffic and giving yourself adequate sea room), but keeping land in sight. Heading from California north to Alaska, you will probably have to sail well west to catch favorable winds and do most of your passage that way, unless you want to motor a good deal of the way against prevailing wind and currents by keeping close to the coast.
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Old 22-07-2012, 20:39   #4
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Perhaps a bit old school, but I would define the difference between the two by the possible methods of navigation. If you can navigate by taking fixes from coastal nav-aids (lights, buoys, towers, coastal land marks and depth changes) then this is coastal sailing. If all of these are absent and one must rely on other means of establishing a fix, then this is ocean sailing. I realize that in the age of GPS enabled MFD's this definition may seem be a quaint (In full disclosure I still do running fixes every hour on paper charts) but I believe it serves.
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Old 22-07-2012, 20:57   #5
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

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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?
No, I'd say that the defining characteristic is distance from the nearest refuge.

Let's say that a storm shows up on the 96-hour forecast: If you're on a coastal cruise, chances are pretty good that you'll be able to make it to a safe harbor before the storm hits. If you're halfway from Seattle to Honolulu, however, chances are you'll be hit by the storm.

That's a huge difference.
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Old 22-07-2012, 21:09   #6
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

About $75,000. And that's an accurate and honest answer sir!
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Old 22-07-2012, 21:27   #7
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

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About $75,000. And that's an accurate and honest answer sir!
Robin Graham may disagree, here. The Dove was essentially a light duty daysailer.
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Old 22-07-2012, 21:36   #8
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

We made the trip[ north from San Francisco to Alaska but did it harhor hopping and going up the inter waterways of Canada.. I would think that would be Coastal..
On the trip back, The wife drove the jeep and I brought the boat down.. I set a line from Kodiak to San Francisco... And I'd concidered that Open Ocean..
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Old 23-07-2012, 00:52   #9
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

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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?
Both.

Neither.

It's trying to force purely human boundaries onto a world which doesn't care.

Plan for the worst, hope for the best
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Old 23-07-2012, 01:52   #10
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

The answer might depend upon who is asking the question.
Your boat's insurance company might give a different answer than your friends at the marina. A long-distance offshore race might call for specific crew or skipper experience.
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Old 23-07-2012, 05:24   #11
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

There is no universally accepted definition of any of these terms. Personally, I don't see any real use for a precise definition. Still, I would generally agree with Bash--if I can get to a safe harbor within the window of a reliable weather forecast then I would probably consider myself to be "coastal cruising."
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Old 23-07-2012, 05:56   #12
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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.
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Old 23-07-2012, 06:11   #13
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

I am with Bash, forcasting and distance to a safe haven. It is about attitude and commitment. As forcasts have got better and look days ahead, coastal sailing has extended further offshore and over longer hops.

You know when you are going offshore, it is a totally different feeling. Uncertainty, you don't know what to expect and you know that you will have to take what comes rather than cut and run to shelter.

Back in the day Sydney to Hobart was considered offshore, and it was, without good radios, forcasts and engines you could easily get caught in something nasty. Now I personally think it is more of a coastal trip on any boat with VHF and a reliable engine.
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Old 23-07-2012, 06:40   #14
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

I'd venture a geographical answer: if you are over a continental shelf, that's coastal sailing.

I understand that no all continental shelfs are equal, and some coastal sailing is very demanding. Cape Horn comes to mind.
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Old 23-07-2012, 07:21   #15
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Re: How to define open ocean vs. coastal cruising?

At minimum I would say a passage to require sailing overnight for it to be offshore, but beyond that there is a large fuzzy grey area where people can argue back and forth about the definition.
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