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Old 02-01-2016, 13:51   #1
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Which would you rather be aboard in a nasty coastal blow?

Quick question for folks who have hands on experience at sea. Here is the scenario:

Nasty weather shows up on a day cruise off the west coast of California. Just quick enough to shut down the harbor entrances with breaking surf before you can get to safety. clearly gonna blow hard, for a while, night time coming. Your gonna ride this one out and it is gonna be hairy. Ugh.

2 choices of vessel, both well found, structurally sound, with rested normal cruising crew.

1. Contessa 26

2. Cal 34

Which would you rather be aboard?

Clearly a question of traditional offshore design features or tremendous size and displacement.

(don't forget the lee shore and shipping lanes 10 mi offshore in this situation)

I am really curious what experienced folks would choose here.

I am strongly leaning towards the larger boat myself...
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Old 02-01-2016, 14:30   #2
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Re: which would you rather be aboard in a nasty coastal blow...

OK were you just out off Santa Barbara/Ventura a week or so ago? Are you running or heaving-to? What are the seas and winds? I confess, I have not sailed a Contessa and have only gone for a ride on the Cal. I'd say both boats will be ok to just ride it out, but larger is usually more comfortable. In this case, it's a close call for me since the Contessa is on the heavier displacement side (but it is no Flicka.) I'd be ok on either, but I like smaller boats that are well-built and well-designed. The Contessa is both I'd say for the conditions you mention, the Cal is ok too but I'll have to side with the Contessa in this contest. If you are planning to run with it though, the Cal can get you somewhere sooner of course. You probably have seen Adlard Cole's book "Heavy Weather Sailing" and in there it mentions the importance of the displacement to length ratio, not so much the ballast to displacement. The Contessa, though it is smaller, has a ratio at around 300, which is "better" by Olin Stephens' measure than the Cal (241) for rougher conditions. My current boat, Columbia 29, has a d/l ratio of about 290, so it is a little on the lighter side perhaps, and it can bounce around, but it has a very nice motion in rough stuff and I trust it completely and its motion and response is very predictable. My old boat, the Columbia 24, was perhaps even closer to the Contessa though in d/l but it did not have as full a keel. Still, I had it out many times in fairly big seas and winds there around the Channel Islands and I always felt it was doing fine. So even though I have not sailed a Contessa, I feel confident it would be my preference in your scenario. Just out of curiosity, why those two boats?
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Old 02-01-2016, 14:30   #3
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Re: Which would you rather be aboard in a nasty coastal blow?

May I answer "neither?
Sorta like asking if ya want yer wedding tackle squeezed in a big vise or slammed with a sledge hammer ;
Really? prolly the bigger boat; but.........given my druthers, most depends on weather and sea state. Both have press/cons
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Old 02-01-2016, 14:36   #4
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Re: Which would you rather be aboard in a nasty coastal blow?

Neither, would rather a bar stool.

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Old 02-01-2016, 14:37   #5
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Re: Which would you rather be aboard in a nasty coastal blow?

my formosa 41 watching from a safe harbor.

my friends chose the cals. they did gud.
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Old 02-01-2016, 14:59   #6
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Re: Which would you rather be aboard in a nasty coastal blow?

So to get to the bar stool we are gonna try to run the harbor entrance between the heaviest breaking wave sets?

In that case, which boat would you rather be on to run the harbor entrance in heavy breaking conditions?

The question presumes standard weather forcasting has failed you, or you have arrived on passage from further away, and missed your window. Of course we would all rather be on land which has much larger and heavier displacement and far better design than the two boat choices for a storm

Don CL, I think we will cross paths soon, I see you are based out of Channel Islands (me too) and your boat (Columbia 29) is on my short list. PM me if you want to get together. maybe I can learn something! Have you ever run the CIH entrance in big breaking over the wall conditions?
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Old 02-01-2016, 15:29   #7
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Re: Which would you rather be aboard in a nasty coastal blow?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nematon785 View Post
So to get to the bar stool we are gonna try to run the harbor entrance between the heaviest breaking wave sets?

In that case, which boat would you rather be on to run the harbor entrance in heavy breaking conditions?

The question presumes standard weather forcasting has failed you, or you have arrived on passage from further away, and missed your window. Of course we would all rather be on land which has much larger and heavier displacement and far better design than the two boat choices for a storm

Don CL, I think we will cross paths soon, I see you are based out of Channel Islands (me too) and your boat (Columbia 29) is on my short list. PM me if you want to get together. maybe I can learn something! Have you ever run the CIH entrance in big breaking over the wall conditions?
Nope I have not run the harbor entrance when the waves are that big, although I think it could be done. I'd prefer the Cal for that surfing video! I'd much rather watch that show from a bar stool at the Rudder Room though! And IMO, for our neighborhood, I think the C29 is a great little island boat, for just the kind of variable conditions we can get between the heavy displacement mainland and lighter displacement islands!
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Old 02-01-2016, 15:57   #8
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Re: Which would you rather be aboard in a nasty coastal blow?

I don't think it matters which boat you surf through the entrance on.

But if I have to chose I say the Cal-234 because at least I have personally sailed one of those for a season.
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Old 02-01-2016, 18:09   #9
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Re: Which would you rather be aboard in a nasty coastal blow?

I'd stick with the long keel. Just because it's what has kept me safe in 12 hours of force 9 to 10 in the Gulf Stream. I was in my berth, kept in place by a lee cloth and plenty of pillows. I was fore reaching with a rag of headsail up.
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Old 02-01-2016, 23:03   #10
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Re: Which would you rather be aboard in a nasty coastal blow?

I don't purposely go out in a storm in my boat which is 3 times bigger.
That should tell you something.
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Old 03-01-2016, 01:06   #11
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Re: Which would you rather be aboard in a nasty coastal blow?

There is no question the longer boat would be better... Of course I wouldn't choose ether if given the choice.
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Old 03-01-2016, 03:34   #12
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Re: Which would you rather be aboard in a nasty coastal blow?

Okay, guys,

The OP has written a question to which I am not sure there is a good answer. It depends on the boat, the wind direction, and the sea state. If it's a winter storm, you have the wind against the south setting current peaking the waves up. How long has it been storming?, i.e. how steep are the waves, and what is the wave period? We are talking 50-60 knots, here. None of us would intentionally head out in this.

The tactics for NE gale vs. Southerly storm would be somewhat different, and might possibly depend on where you want to conclude the voyage. NE gale, head W, but not DDW. S, head NW- N, depending on where along the coast you are, and how far offshore. However, sometimes, going to windward slowly seems the best tactic in a lighter, fin keel type boat, so SW- W. Just enough sail to provide some steadying. Consider Jordan Series Drogue and heading DDW, could save your bacon...and could take a long time to come back from.

For me, if both boats were perfect AAA excellent, the Cal is not a very tough boat, so I might still take the Contessa. Everything's smaller, and easier to handle. It will be slow. You will go up and down a lot, but it might just be the more stable platform, even if bobbing up and down like a cork and lashing from side to side. By the way, in big seas, the sails luff in the troughs between the crests of the swells, the vessel stands up, then leans back over when the wind gets to her again, it is tiring. The wave height overwhelms the effects of the wind, and possibly the current, as well. On the other hand, by the time the waves are 20m. or more tall, and terrifying in either boat, maybe I would be happier in the longer boat. Like, Beam me up, Scotty!

Okay, only nasty, not really storm. To me, the 45 k. winds are extremely fatiguing, due to the motion of the boat. And maybe the 34 footer could handle that better than the 26, just because of waterline length. I don't know. Some full keel boats are very rolly. I extremely strongly prefer not to be out in winds of that strength, but to me, they don't represent "survival conditions", whereas the 60 plus conditions have that potential.

The mention of the bar afterwards is ludicrous. Land is dangerous [it is where the hard bits are], open ocean is safer. First take care of yourself and the boat, then consider a fun night ashore when surfing the bar won't quite be necessary. It is not that it might not be done, but the attempt is inherently unsafe, because the bars shift and change and barred entrances can be death traps.

In the fin keeler, close reach on the offshore tack. I'd probably try do the same in the Contessa.

Qualifier: almost all my sailing has been done in fin keelers, 36 to 46 ft., and colors my perception of the response to the question. I am, however, not prejudiced against smaller boats, and have read that some of them are extremely seaworthy, although not fashionable today. I have friends who circumnavigated in a Cal 2-27, whose only electronics was a depth sounder. And who considerably strengthened it before they left the US.

Ann
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Old 03-01-2016, 03:50   #13
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Re: Which would you rather be aboard in a nasty coastal blow?

Contessa.. and I'd go for sea room and ride the blow out.. can heave to happily for as long as the supplies last.
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Old 03-01-2016, 05:45   #14
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Re: Which would you rather be aboard in a nasty coastal blow?

I'm with Boatman61: Get as far offshore and into the deepest water that I can find and for choice do so in the heavier built/longer keeled boat, which I perceive in this instance is probably the Nic? (overall length's irrelevant, they're all tiny in the great scheme of things) and ride it out. What I would not do is ...try to run the harbor entrance...; We did that once and whilst successful, as I gain experience I've become ever more aware of just how lucky we were not to lose the boat at the very least.

If there's a gale/storm on it's way, then very best place to meet it is tucked-up inside a secure harbour, but the very worst place is at the entrance to that self-same harbour; if you can't get there, then head offshore in search of deep and open water.
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:37   #15
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Re: Which would you rather be aboard in a nasty coastal blow?

The bigger boat.
Head offshore or behind an island (Disneyland?)
Get crew on deck working as an idle mind is the devils playground.
Take prettiest crew bunny below and securly close cabin door.
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