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Old 22-09-2012, 10:24   #16
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Re: Surfing downwind on a cruiser?

pacific ocean surfing is more frequent than other places--sailing south is down hill, and i experienced quartering seas and occasional bouts of surfing. gullf of mexico-we didnt surf the sloop at all. we used autohelm 4000 an di didnt like it at all. too much slop.
with my heavy cruiser surfing off cabo san lucas-- autopilot, mine is a simrad hdl 2000, linear drive, mounted on my quadrant, was very happy and sailed the boat nicely . very reliable unit and accurate, despite seas and winds.. there ere 2 souls on board--short handed sailing, and was easy!!!! fun as well. formosas as well as other boats cruising usually have 7 kts or so as hull speed--so we went over hull sped nicely. doesnt often happen in my formosa, so far.
headwind?? not gonna surf. you will BASH
for comfort in headwind-- sail a 747
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Old 22-09-2012, 11:02   #17
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Re: Surfing downwind on a cruiser?

Doing the Baja ha ha in 2009 the AP quit on us two hours into the event. The wind was quite strong there were five of us on board. My wife , a friend, myself, and two bambinos. We did three hour watches at night and 6 in the day. My wife only stood one three hour watch but we hand steered the entire way. We had a double reef in the main and no headsail. I hit 16.3 knots on a broad reach surfing down a wave with two fingers on the wheel. Pretty good for a 41' cruising boat (Sceptre 41). I was pretty happy and handed the helm over to my friend and he hit 16.7. Our next choice to go down in sail was a staysail. My friend was new to steering in heavy air and I told him what I was taught -- KEEP THE BOAT UNDER THE MAST.
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Old 22-09-2012, 12:13   #18
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Im sure i have nothing new to add to this thread but hey why let that stop me...

I am an inshore and offshore racer but cruise with a family that isnt old enough to make the decision if they want to cross an ocean like that.

I have a french aluminum hull with a very aggressive sail plan but i am sailing with my wife and a 5 and 2 year old.

Do the numbers yourself. Do you think i keep enough sail up to intentionally surf on passages? This is my families home, noone in their right mind would intentionally put their home in a position where it could broach.

We are cooking dinner, changing nappies, teaching school, doing crafts, etc...no room for chaos....

So do I push the envelope when the wife and midgets are away and my mates are onboard?

Hell yes, nothing like a chinese jibe when cruising at 15 knots on a 42' boat to let you know to slow down....

...but cleaning up the carnage associated with a hard broach or chinese jibe with a small family aboard is unthinkable and selfish...

...are you sailing for yourself or for your family?
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Old 22-09-2012, 13:02   #19
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Re: Surfing downwind on a cruiser?

We have a boat that can and will surf quite easily, but we typically don't while on passage. We are usually tired and the chaos that can be created by a squall shifting wind direction or the autopilot faulting out or any of a hundred other things is just not worth the extra miles.

However, if the weather is very settled (no squalls around) and downwind and medium strongish (say 25-30kts), we will do sustained surfs with the main down and a double poled headsail rig flying. That sail combo is exceptionally well balanced on the helm and also exceptionally easy to adjust sail area (roll up the poled jib). We have done a several 120nm 12 hr runs this way (on a 40' waterline), but usually these conditions have run out after 12 or 24 hours and either gone lighter or squally. We have had some good days like this in the tropical pacific and the high latitude southern ocean. You can also get it in the tropical Atlantic (east to west) later in the season but we have always done that passage early when the winds are typically too light for surfing.

Our highest sustain averages for full long passages have been on broad reaches in the tropics - Marquesas to Hawaii, and west bound in the southern tropical Indian ocean. In these conditions, with reefed main and working jib, we are not doing sustained surfs but maintaining hull speed and say every other wave catching it just right and getting a short ride. That's the way we typically have been sailing when doing multiple 200 miles days back to back.

I am happy to be surfing with a chute up during coastal day sails but not on passage especially not at night. We have just had too many panic drills with 2am 40kt squalls to find it worth the extra miles. Perhaps if we were better sailors we would be more comfortable with this.

Typically I am quite happy to be doing anything over 7kts in a bulletproof low effort/low fatigue fashion. Beth during her watch likes to be doing high 7's and does more reefing and unreefing and other sail handling than I do.
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Old 22-09-2012, 14:53   #20
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Re: Surfing downwind on a cruiser?

surfing isnt something one means to do deliberately, but happens as you sail down the fronts of seas. every boat will surf a sea--- isnt because the skipper is deliberately doing something to make the boat do that.
watch what your boat does in downhill runs. you will see surfing, to a degree, and when seas grow, surfing is more prominent.
smooth sailing....one will not learn anything on a calm sea except how to drift.
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Old 22-09-2012, 15:55   #21
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Re: Surfing downwind on a cruiser?

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Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
isnt because the skipper is deliberately doing something to make the boat do that.

Says you,
My "FIRST" is just a qlorified "LongBoard" built for open ocean performance.. Surfing is just part of it.. and under perfect control when doing it.. the deep fin and matching rudder arn't on there just for looks.

A true performance boat, dosent need the storm front or excessive winds to Surf, Just a good underwater shape and she'll come alive..
Anyone can fall off a wave and build speed for a few seconds, but it takes a good design to ride the face intentionally.

As newer designs appear on the market, we see boats built as such and mimicked after the true racing sleds.. Strap yourself into one of the new Js or an Ultma and you'll see what surfing is all about.

And with the Americas Cup going to Cats, I would think the future in cruising will be performance multi hulls with that trickle down effect comming from the big boats.. and the term surfing will be a thing of the past, only known to monos..
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Old 22-09-2012, 16:31   #22
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Re: Surfing downwind on a cruiser?

G'Day Ben and all,

Your questions:

'My questions are, in reality how often do you get the chance to let her go and surf? Normally I find I have flat calm.. then a headwind..

How much faster are your real averages when surfing. Are they well above the normal hull speed for your boat?

And does the autopilot, windvane and boat cope with this abuse. It it even possible safely on a heavily loaded, lightly crewed boat?'


How often is a tough one... depends on where and when,of course, and what we are doing. IE, one behaves differently when on a lengthy passage, or when on a long coastal passage but with a planned stop at night, or on a daysail with no particular goal.

As others have suggested, when short handed on long passages avoiding fatigue is paramount, and we don't drive the boat very hard. Occasionally with good conditions surfs will just happen, but they don't impact our day's runs too much. FWIW, our best days runs have been in moderate winds (18-22 kts) close reaching. Peak speeds not so high, but consistent hull speed or near to it.

When trying to reach a night's anchorage coastally we will push harder, and then surfing (if conditions allow) is encouraged. This means more sail area and paying more attention to trim and boat placement on waves. Insatiable surfs easily despite being loaded with all our chattels and possessions, and will often see 12-14 knots for the duration of the wave. All time record is 15.6 and our hull speed is in the low nines. Our auto pilot will handle these conditions ok, but an attentive driver can outperform it easily. (And for Zeehag's benefit, surfing isn't just something that just happens to the boat. Skillful placement and steering does enhance the probability for a sustained surf... ask anyone who has raced in open waters where waves are big enough to surf upon.) Incidentally, our best speeds have been attained with a modest poled out headsail and a reef or two in the main. By the time the seas are big enough for good surfing that is enough sail area to drive the boat well. If we were a stronger crew our big kite would likely provide higher speeds and bigger repair bills! The bottom line is that under these circumstances surfing can indeed result in higher averages being attained, even for our overloaded cruiser.

As to safety, well everyone has their own idea about what constitutes that state! I don't think that for our boat surfing posts any particular dangers in the conditions we're talking about. In huge seas and survival conditions things take on a different perspective. The nearest thing to disaster that we've experienced following the above practices was a round-up just off Cape Sonnerat (sp?) when a current spike caused our autopilot to quit steering whilst on a big wave (maybe 4 metres). Got our attention, no damage... didn't even have to change unders! (Ann swears that we came within cooee of the rocks at the end of the Cape, but I think she exaggerates!)

Again, I think that the specific type of boat will influence this picture considerably. Without real data, I'm left with the impression that traditional designs may be harder to control when in sea states big enough to get them surfing. I lack the personal experience to judge that.

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 22-09-2012, 16:39   #23
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Re: Surfing downwind on a cruiser?

Like most other posters, I sail conservatively when cruising.

But, cats break into a surf quite easily so just a bit of following sea can give you a nice extra push...just have to be careful you don't get too much!

I remember a nice downwind run to the Dry Tortugas once aboard a cat, ideal conditions, sailing at about 8 knots, long smooth swell, surfing on each swell up to 10 knots. Nice ride...
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Old 22-09-2012, 18:44   #24
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Re: Surfing downwind on a cruiser?

Thanks for All the Replies, Very interesting to here what kind of driving and speeds you are getting out of a variety of boats.

I always seem to be delivering someone else's boat. So I don't feel right about pushing it too hard, my breif is to get the boat to it's destination with a miniumum of broken gear. My own boat weighs in at over 8 tonnes on a 26 foot waterline, so the day she gets up and surfs is the day I take up golf. she will surge down a swell, maybe up to 10-11 knots, but not properly surfing.

For my part the two higher performance boats I sailed on both disapointed me slightly, one was a 63 foot Radford schooner (Blizzard) that I sailed on from hobart to South america. We occasionally got her surfing up to about 18-20kn, but the days runs never seemed to reflect this and were not really any more than "hull speed" on average, only really around 220 or so. She seemed squirriley at times, maybe due to her short rudder (4 foot draft with a swing keel). In all other ways she was a magnificent boat, fast, comfortable and easy to handle, I just had thought we might have had some more spectacular days runs.

The Skipper Dave Pryce would be hands down the most experienced and capable person I have sailed with, and he kept her under firm control, never pushing her hard, but still we averaged over 7 knots for the whole 5000' passage. The number of days with good surfing conditions would have been no more than 10-20% for the whole crossing, lots of light winds...

The other boat was an old open 60 I worked on as crew and then skipper running to the antarctic peninsular. In the six crossings of the drake we only had surfing conditions once, for one day (5% of our sailing time max). It was frighting, hitting 20 knots, I felt the boat was not at all in control, and we did a few round downs and gybes, the boat has twin rudders and the windward rudder seemed to catch suddenly and throw her into a gybe. I can't remember the distance run, but do remember not being impressed after all the drama involved. When I was running her I never pushed her hard, normally 150 miles or so, but didn't really have the right conditions, either too light or to strong, or on the nose.

Of the boats I have delivered my two favorites are poles apart, a wooden eric (similar to a wetsail32) and a young 88 (a light wide open transom racer). The Eric steered herself nearly dead downwind with the tiller lashed. trudling along completely happy for hours and making a fine average speed. The Young 88 was FUN, I even put down my book (read a page, look out.. read a page, look out) and steered her a few times in the squalls. Though I can't say she was any faster than the Eric, on average, the way I sailed her.

Now I am dreaming of a new boat, and are trying to get some idea of what hull shapes and Displacement/Lengths to be looking at, do I go for an older cheaper IOR hull and put up with the poor downwind handling, or splash out for a more modern shape? or just stick to what I know, a heavy steelie.

Seems like those of you with well designed performance cruisers feel comfortable enough letting them surf on the odd occasion the seas, wind and need all align. But it also seems that a good days run can be had without surfing, and conditions that suit surfing can be rare outside the trade wind zones

Maybe I need to get off the computer and brush off poor neglected Snow Petrel and get back out doing some miles and think on it some more. Her best days run was just under 150', dead down wind in a building northerly. Pushing quite hard to get below the low pressure system.

Not bad for a 34 footer with a 26 foot waterline and about 8 tonnes light with 2 tonnes (or more) of extra gear onboard! The windvane was just holding her, and she was comfortable enough. She was not surfing, just getting the odd push from the bigger waves.

Anyway enough rambling from me.

Cheers

Ben
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Old 22-09-2012, 22:24   #25
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Re: Surfing downwind on a cruiser?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowpetrel View Post
Thanks for All the Replies, Very interesting to here what kind of driving and speeds you are getting out of a variety of boats.

I always seem to be delivering someone else's boat. So I don't feel right about pushing it too hard, my breif is to get the boat to it's destination with a miniumum of broken gear. My own boat weighs in at over 8 tonnes on a 26 foot waterline, so the day she gets up and surfs is the day I take up golf. she will surge down a swell, maybe up to 10-11 knots, but not properly surfing....,,,

Maybe I need to get off the computer and brush off poor neglected Snow Petrel and get back out doing some miles and think on it some more. Her best days run was just under 150', dead down wind in a building northerly. Pushing quite hard to get below the low pressure system.

Not bad for a 34 footer with a 26 foot waterline and about 8 tonnes light with 2 tonnes (or more) of extra gear onboard! The windvane was just holding her, and she was comfortable enough. She was not surfing, just getting the odd push from the bigger waves.

Anyway enough rambling from me.

Cheers

Ben
Ben,

Sounds like your steel boat handles a lot like mine, which is one of reasons I enjoy reading your blog. So, yes, brush off the keypad and keep posting"!

Shane
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Old 23-09-2012, 07:19   #26
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Re: Surfing downwind on a cruiser?

omg, randyonr---lol--like i was standing on the bow with my feets over the edge yelling hang ten..LOL.... one does not have to deliberately set out to surf when sailing pacific--it happens....my formosa surfs just fine and dandy.
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Old 23-09-2012, 07:32   #27
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Quote:
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Ben,

Sounds like your steel boat handles a lot like mine, which is one of reasons I enjoy reading your blog. So, yes, brush off the keypad and keep posting"!

Shane
Ha, thanks shane... You inspired me! have finally brushed away the cobwebs and put up a new post on snowpetrel sailing about my woodstove. Cheers
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Old 23-09-2012, 08:36   #28
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Re: Surfing downwind on a cruiser?

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omg, randyonr---lol--like i was standing on the bow with my feets over the edge yelling hang ten..LOL.... one does not have to deliberately set out to surf when sailing pacific--it happens....my formosa surfs just fine and dandy.

I dont doubt it in the least Zee, as "You're Formosa" will do or has done most anything any other boat built will do, both faster, easier, and with more comfort..
We all know you have the ultimate cruising boat, you've told us so.
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Old 23-09-2012, 08:39   #29
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Re: Surfing downwind on a cruiser?

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I dont doubt it in the least Zee, as "You're Formosa" will do or has done most anything any other boat built will do, both faster, easier, and with more comfort..
We all know you have the ultimate cruising boat, you've told us so.
snide is not nice, randypoo----lol my boat only does that which it was designed to do, and it does it well.
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Old 23-09-2012, 22:10   #30
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Re: Surfing downwind on a cruiser?

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I dont doubt it in the least Zee, as "You're Formosa" will do or has done most anything any other boat built will do, both faster, easier, and with more comfort..
We all know you have the ultimate cruising boat, you've told us so.

Hell Randy...as I stated in the other thread...I sail my boat in 10 ft. of snow, 10 miles to school dontcha know!
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