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Old 12-10-2014, 14:38   #1
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Does the wind matter THAT much? ;)

Hello Everyone,

Yes - I'm new, can't you tell? But, when you're done laughing, hopefully this question won't sound THAT bad.

MANY years ago, in the Navy, I took basic seamanship and I seem to recall that you can sail in any direction as long as there is wind. You don't have to sail upwind, downwind, etc…that you can tack, for example, and do any number of things with, or depending on the type, your sails to get a move on.

Obviously some ways will be quicker than others

So I've been researching - a lot - as I believe I want to make the move to yacht hopefully be the end of 2015 and reading much - doing the fun stuff first, looking at all the different boats I can't afford!

More than a few times I've come across blogs where I'm reading how people have "been stuck" in ports, "cancelled" trips, or "turned back" because it was impossible for them to get where they were going due to "unfavorable winds".

Am I missing something? Could it be they just didn't want to sail a particular "way" and opted to wait? One blogger wrote they were stuck in a Marina, near Fort Lauderdale, for a month.

I tried to figure this out for myself using a "sailing simulator" I found online -http://www.nationalgeographic.com/volvooceanrace/interactives/sailing/index.html - and sure enough, no matter which way the wind blows the little sailboat makes time in any direction.

Just hoping for some clarification - after the laughter wears off

Thanks!
Rob
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Old 12-10-2014, 15:27   #2
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Re: Does the wind matter THAT much? ;)

Best way to find your answer is to crew on a boat and try and sailing close hauled into anything over a Force 7 (or less depending on boat size).
It will prove to be pretty uncomfortable and exhausting.
On top of that, it can get dangerous.
Google a view images of heavy weather at sea and you'll get an idea.

Best of luck with the boat search
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Old 12-10-2014, 15:40   #3
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pirate Re: Does the wind matter THAT much? ;)

I like to wait for a couple of nice sunny days if setting off from the UK or in fact.. anywhere N of La Coruna..
Nothing worse than a long trip started on a cold, wet blowy day.. whereas even just 24hrs of good sailing in modest winds and light sea's gives one time to get to know the boat and really sets the tone for the trip.. you know damn well the chances are you'll get dumped on halfway across the Bay...
But you don't care right now..
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Old 12-10-2014, 15:52   #4
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Re: Does the wind matter THAT much? ;)

Yes wind does matter THAT much!

Yes one can sail in any direction in a given wind - hence the terms close hauled, broad reach, down wind, tacking etc but SAFETY is number one consideration for most cruisers. We sailed to windward for 9000 nms from Australia to Alaska, yet we still waited a month in Hawaii for the right weather conditions to continue sailing to Alaska because the position of the North Pacific High was not right for our passage. It might have been OK to divert to Japan but we wanted to make Alaska for the sailing season ie summer not winter.

Ocean racers often get caught in BAD wx because they sail to a set time regardless of the wind and weather, view some of the footage available on the Sydney to Hobart races and you will see how much wind matters.

Good luck with your research and purchase of a boat - sailing is definitely the way to a better life.

Sue
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Old 12-10-2014, 16:31   #5
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Re: Does the wind matter THAT much? ;)

If you have to be somewhere on a certain date, as I often am as I'm still a wage slave, you crank the engine and become an overweight, slow motorboat.
Nothing small should go out in heavy weather, but most sailboats can handle heavier weather than a power boat of the same size
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Old 12-10-2014, 16:39   #6
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Re: Does the wind matter THAT much? ;)

Sailboats can handle heavier weather than their crew. Why start a 2-4 week passage with crappy weather when the wait of a couple days can make for a pleasant time to settle into the routine of an ocean passage. There is also areas that are prone to frequent low pressure systems like the Pacific Coast. Waiting a few days there can make the difference from just trying to survive in Hurricane force winds to a nice light air sail/motor to your next port of refuge. It's the people on a tight schedule that write the stories of surviving the ultimate storm or, worse, abandoning their boat or being lost.
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Old 12-10-2014, 21:13   #7
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Re: Does the wind matter THAT much? ;)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trident50 View Post
MANY years ago, in the Navy, I took basic seamanship and I seem to recall that you can sail in any direction as long as there is wind. You don't have to sail upwind, downwind, etc…that you can tack, for example, and do any number of things with, or depending on the type, your sails to get a move on.
Rob
Besides what has been mentioned, there are situations when you just can't sail in a direction you want to go to. As an example, around here (PNW) there are a lot of straights of water between islands. The wind tends to blow down (or up) these straights. You can't sail directly into the wind so you try to tack back and forth between the shores to make your way upwind but then you realize that you might only make good 3 knots of speed and your tide (which somehow always ends up going the wrong direction) is going at 2.5 knots. So now you realize that you are working like a slave tacking upwind but making hardly any real progress. This can get pretty darn tiring after a while.
If it blows hard enough against you, you can't tack quite as hard against the wind and although you are going like stink, the actual speed made good might be zero! That's when you decide that essence of decayed dinosaurs really is useful to get on with life.
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Old 13-10-2014, 02:26   #8
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Re: Does the wind matter THAT much? ;)

Wind matters because....
1) the forces involved increase exponentially. This means that the force of the wind on the sails and rig AND THE WATER are having huge increases for small numbers. The seas get up. Reefing is no big deal in 45 knots and flat seas, but that only happens when the wind is building faster than the seas, and is rare.

2) Wind strength matters because sails are usually built to a wind strength range: you can destroy a light air sail's performance by leaving it up in too much air. For instance, on our boat, we furl our 130 at 20 apparent, on the wind, because of the wind range for which we had the sail built. We then shift to our staysail, which we will have to partially roll up with wind increases, of course we will also be reefing the main, because, on the wind, the less you heel, the faster you go towards where you want to go.

3) Wind matters, when it is from astern, too. It may be too light and you have to motor sail. Or it may be too great, and you have to get down to a triple reefed main, or a tiny patch of jib. It is the interaction of the wind and ocean that causes big waves to develop, and those waves can toss your yacht about like a cork in a river rapids.

4) When wind and seas are huge, that's when stuff breaks, with loud bangs, and hurried trips above decks often after dark, when you can't see as well, to deal with emergencies.

Yes

The wind matters.

Ann
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Old 13-10-2014, 04:41   #9
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Re: Does the wind matter THAT much? ;)

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Rob.
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Old 13-10-2014, 05:20   #10
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Re: Does the wind matter THAT much? ;)

Welcome to CF Rob!

Nobody's laughing to be sure... One of the best and very typical lessons of young sailors, myself included... is to be well downwind/down current of the intended landing destination when daylight is starting to yawn... AND...

YOU'RE GOING TO CATCH HELL FROM YOUR MOM...

All well said here before, summary reasons for waiting on weather...

1. dangerous
2. uncomfortable
3. slow to zero to backwards progress - can transition back to #1
4. spending $$$ to replace worn or busted shizzit
5. #4 usually transitions to #1

Try cranking up the wind speed and current speed in in the same direction on your simulator and try to go against it.... In a small gap like Jd1 mentions...
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Old 13-10-2014, 06:42   #11
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Re: Does the wind matter THAT much? ;)

Have watched sailors sailing backward (sog...speed over ground)
on Hudson river against wind and current.
Sure they were making a couple 2-3 knots over water (stw...speed through water)
Not to bad for afternoon sail on river, not to good for a passage!
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Old 13-10-2014, 06:56   #12
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Re: Does the wind matter THAT much? ;)

Particular to your question about the sailor waiting in Ft. Lauderdale, my guess would be that he was heading for the Bahamas. That means crossing the Gulf Stream. When the wind is out of the north, the northward flowing Gulf Stream can get seriously nasty. That is due to the wind blowing against the current, thereby creating wave conditions that can be downright dangerous in a small boat. People have died trying to cross the Gulf Stream in unfavorable conditions.

So, yeah, like the others have said, sometimes the wind does matter THAT much.
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Old 13-10-2014, 07:04   #13
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Re: Does the wind matter THAT much? ;)

Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
Particular to your question about the sailor waiting in Ft. Lauderdale, my guess would be that he was heading for the Bahamas. That means crossing the Gulf Stream. When the wind is out of the north, the northward flowing Gulf Stream can get seriously nasty. That is due to the wind blowing against the current, thereby creating wave conditions that can be downright dangerous in a small boat. People have died trying to cross the Gulf Stream in unfavorable conditions.

So, yeah, like the others have said, sometimes the wind does matter THAT much.
Aww man... forgot you were in Tampa.... was there 3 wks ago looking for a CFr to say hey to while staying to preview the Crystal River nuke plant auction... I did discover however my new favorite place is 7th in Ybor City... What a hoot!
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Old 13-10-2014, 10:17   #14
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Re: Does the wind matter THAT much? ;)

I agree with all of the replies in this post. I would also add that many areas of the world have severe currents such as South Africa with the Agulhas Current sweeping down The Mozambique Channel from the north. When there are opposing winds (which there often are) one would be more than foolish to sail anywhere in that region at that time. More than a few huge ships have been lost attempting it.

I also agree with those who have said that a tight schedule is a sailors worst enemy.

Sure hope all of this helps. There are many wise people answering your query. It would be wise for you to take their responses very seriously.
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Old 13-10-2014, 13:15   #15
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Re: Does the wind matter THAT much? ;)

An easy way to understand this is to realize that you are right THE WIND DOES NOT MATTER. Most boats will sail anywhere in any weather.

But THE WAVES WILL KILL YOU Its all about sea state. That's why offshore boats are different, because they are designed to survive heavy sea states. In coastal waters average wave heights above 6ft are rare except in storms, off shore they are the norm. Most coastal boats struggle to make to windward in 6ft+ seas, ALMOST ALL CREWS WILL STRUGGLE
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