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Old 20-11-2018, 11:46   #1
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I guess gentlemen DON'T go to windward...

Hey all,

Ok, I just got back from a little sailing trip that I had planned out for my bit of Thanksgiving vacation time. Just for some background, my boat is a Cape Dory 28, I keep her on the Ortega river in Jacksonville. To get to the ocean is a trip out the St. Johns river that takes most of a day. For me, I have owned too many sailboats and sailed my stretch of the St. Johns for 25+ years. I've made just a few coastal ocean passages, all of them the same 25+ years ago when I worked for a local yacht broker.

So, my plan was first day get out to Blount Island, which is near the jetties, the inlet for the St. Johns river. No problems, anchored, woke up ready to go, and went. Day two was sail offshore down to St. Augustine inlet. Awesome ! Wind is behind me, I'm wing and wing, yes it's fairly rolly, seas 3-5 maybe ?, but that's what you'd expect. Progress was fast, boat did wonderful. I even had a beautiful moment when I was able to put my Dad to rest, and say goodbye to my mom, together. I had been hanging on to my father's ashes for 22 years waiting for a opportunity like this. I couldn't ask for a better trip.

Got through the St. Augustine inlet ok. I had heard it can be interesting, to say the least. It has extensive shallows on either side that allow the waves to get pretty exciting. They were, and it was. But not difficult. Anchored overnight in Salt Run, cooked a celebratory steak on my grill. Woo-hoo !

Now the next day, perhaps foolishly, I had planned to sail back to the St. Johns offshore. Got up the early next morning, wind still pretty much northerly, seas slightly bigger. Sill thought I could persevere. Went out through the inlet just after daybreak for a much wilder ride. Wish I had filmed more of it but I ended up hanging on to something too much. Tried to make progress back up the coast. It just wasn't happening. Sailing between 3 to 10 miles off, I tacked several times over several hours, but by early afternoon I could still see the St. Augustine lighthouse !!! I was getting nowhere, not to mention the fact it felt like I was getting beat up by a bully. I also tried motor-sailing, but that really did not make a significant improvement in making progress to the north. I felt quite humbled. I decided discretion IS the better part of valor, and I turned my nose back to the inlet. Within 90 minutes I was anchored back in Salt Run. Wow. A bit of a let down, to be sure.

The next day conditions were pretty much the same, and it was easy to decide to simply motor up the ditch. Which was nice, the current was even in my favor most of the way, until I got back to the St. Johns where its hardly EVER in your favor. But I'm used to that part.

It was STILL a good vacation, a good time on the boat, and I learned some things. Only had one equipment failure when a reefing block on the boom broke away. I was able to rig a line to compensate. Not that it made any difference at the time, since that was about when I had already decided I needed to turn around.

But I guess I can't help but wonder - if I didn't have the ditch handy, what else could one do ? Tough it out ? Wait ? Or do we simply NOT go to windward ?
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Old 20-11-2018, 11:51   #2
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Re: I guess gentlemen DON'T go to windward...

When you were motor sailing did you have just the main up or main and jib?
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Old 20-11-2018, 15:32   #3
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Re: I guess gentlemen DON'T go to windward...

I tried both ways Thomm. With the jib I couldn't point as high of course, even though I made slightly more speed. With just the main, I could point higher but less speed. I even tried just motoring, but with the wind in my face and the waves coming on from the forward quarter, the best I could get was less than 3 knots. It just wasn't worth it. I think the wind had also set up a slight surface current to the south that was also working against me. Seas were a good 4-6 with some bigger ones rolling in regularly. It wasn't much more than what I'd had coming down, but man what a difference trying to back against them !

It just wasn't worth the fight. If I had to, I guess I could have, and would have of course, but I'm darn glad I didn't have to.
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Old 20-11-2018, 16:43   #4
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Re: I guess gentlemen DON'T go to windward...

Well sometimes you just have to fall off, be patient, and continue. I'm talking 60-70 degrees off the wind on these old, short, full keel boats

I do best motor sailing with main only, but if it's really rough, I can't do that because the outboard will not stay in the water.

So sometimes I have to sail WNW when I'm trying to get South. I cross the entire Bay, then tack on the favorable wind and have 25 miles to go instead of 20 or so

Sometimes the waves or 3'-5' but very closely spaced bay waves.

Once when I was further north with 70 miles to go to get back South, I waited a day or so for a cold front to pass bringing with it a nice northerly wind which got me back very fast....
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Old 20-11-2018, 17:07   #5
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Re: I guess gentlemen DON'T go to windward...

Earlier this month I moved the boat from Jacksonville to the Keys. Two days befire I was supposed to leave my engine took a dump. Here is my track outside if Fort Pierce where I was stuck for two days just tacking between the coast and the stream waiting for the wind to change.

What a drag, but luckily I didnt have a deadline and could just wait it out.Click image for larger version

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Old 20-11-2018, 17:25   #6
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Re: I guess gentlemen DON'T go to windward...

And as far motoring to windward, in the bay cruisers motor in the channels all the time headed South in Spring and Summer against the Southerly winds

They do it so much so that in early Spring of this year I noticed this boat headed South sailing at an angle to the channel. It seemed really strange although that's how I get South.

I was trying to get South also but once again I was head a bit North of South because my old full keel short waterline Bristol 27 will not point.

Come to find out, the boat I saw was a Navy 44 from the Navy Academy in Annapolis taking part in the Annapolis- Bermuda race. He was in second place and it was like 0815 when I saw him. The race had started at 1300 the day before. I was North of Cape Charles on the Eastern side of the bay. I had just sailed off anchor because my outboard appeared to be overheating the day before

Just this weekend I was talking with a gentleman who wanted to bring his boat down from Annapolis. I mentioned another guy that had motored down. He then said you mean he motored down the ICW.

I said yeah.....down the bay. Later it came up again and he's like he motored the ICW then. I repeated, yep came down the bay

It's seems some folks never venture outside the main channels.....


Navy 44.


https://www.usna.edu/Sailing/lectures/navy44.php
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Old 20-11-2018, 17:27   #7
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Re: I guess gentlemen DON'T go to windward...

Usually I choose not to beat when cruising but if I have to and the weather is bad I sail on an open angle 40 to 60 degrees ( as much needed depends on the seas and wind ) and making big tacks , trying to make the trip as comfort as possible .
My boat is almost the same size as yours and I can beat with no issues up to 30 knots in a narrow angle in the Atlantic , I wonder what wind you had ?
When you beat on those conditions with a small boat like yours or mine every sag on the sails is a minus , roller Genoa s making the life really hard , and the main must be as dry as possible .
My boat is a fractional rig which let me dry the main a lot by bending the mast , and after 25 knots I use my 1 storm sail and 1 reef (8 sq) and first reef on the main after 30 knots I use my 3 sq storm sail , and seccond or third reef on the main .... If the conditions deteriate I have my storm trysail but usually I use it only on really severe conditions over 35 knots with bad waves or to heave to to avoid chafe on the main .
If I have the option to beat or anchor I choose anchor .... I used to like beating but on lo g trips it gets you really tired .

My main sail is slab reefing .
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Old 20-11-2018, 18:09   #8
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Re: I guess gentlemen DON'T go to windward...

Quote:
Originally Posted by gmakhs View Post
Usually I choose not to beat when cruising but if I have to and the weather is bad I sail on an open angle 40 to 60 degrees ( as much needed depends on the seas and wind ) and making big tacks , trying to make the trip as comfort as possible .
My boat is almost the same size as yours and I can beat with no issues up to 30 knots in a narrow angle in the Atlantic , I wonder what wind you had ?
When you beat on those conditions with a small boat like yours or mine every sag on the sails is a minus , roller Genoa s making the life really hard , and the main must be as dry as possible .
My boat is a fractional rig which let me dry the main a lot by bending the mast , and after 25 knots I use my 1 storm sail and 1 reef (8 sq) and first reef on the main after 30 knots I use my 3 sq storm sail , and seccond or third reef on the main .... If the conditions deteriate I have my storm trysail but usually I use it only on really severe conditions over 35 knots with bad waves or to heave to to avoid chafe on the main .
If I have the option to beat or anchor I choose anchor .... I used to like beating but on lo g trips it gets you really tired .

My main sail is slab reefing .
Actually, your boat is not the same as his.

You have a fin keel.

You have a fractional rig.

You can bent your mast back adding rake in heavy wind.

That said, I'm still thinking your pointing wouldn't be that great in heavy 30 knot winds but his would be worse most probably

But he will have a much smoother ride than you will.....
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Old 20-11-2018, 18:12   #9
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Re: I guess gentlemen DON'T go to windward...

Pointing is 40 to 60 degrees on 30 knots , depends on the waves , on less than 30 knots the boat points on the normal angles .

He can add rake by extending the forestay . I do believe he should point 50 to 70 , but I never was on a full keel boat so little I know.

And yes fin keels rides are not smooth at all , couple of times I have wish for smoother ride .

I do wonder op
How.much wind did you had ?
You mention sailing 3 to 10 miles off in my opinion you should have done bigger tacks , but you did made the right choice choosing the safer and most comfortable way .
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Old 20-11-2018, 18:58   #10
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Re: I guess gentlemen DON'T go to windward...

Quote:
Originally Posted by gmakhs View Post
Pointing is 40 to 60 degrees on 30 knots , depends on the waves , on less than 30 knots the boat points on the normal angles .

He can add rake by extending the forestay . I do believe he should point 50 to 70 , but I never was on a full keel boat so little I know.

And yes fin keels rides are not smooth at all , couple of times I have wish for smoother ride .

I do wonder op
How.much wind did you had ?
You mention sailing 3 to 10 miles off in my opinion you should have done bigger tacks , but you did made the right choice choosing the safer and most comfortable way .
U should have stayed in the stream. U got 4-5 kts going your way. That track is showing you are tacking in place
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Old 20-11-2018, 21:20   #11
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Re: I guess gentlemen DON'T go to windward...

This gentleman had no problem going to windward this morning.
25 to 30 of wind and sea state that goes with it, directly into it, coffee in hand at 8 knots.
Easy peasy
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Old 20-11-2018, 22:47   #12
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Re: I guess gentlemen DON'T go to windward...

I may have missed it, but did you have it reefed? What was wind speed? 30 kts? How old are sails (are they possibly blown out a bit?) Rigging tuned? It may be that she'll do better, but if you had a good current against you, that could explain a lot of course.
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Old 21-11-2018, 01:46   #13
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Re: I guess gentlemen DON'T go to windward...

When you have both wind and current against you, it is very hard to make good distance to windward in a small boat in 25-30 knots or more. The decision to return to protected waters was a good one.


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Old 21-11-2018, 02:21   #14
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Re: I guess gentlemen DON'T go to windward...

In answer to the OP's question, I would have waited for the wind to veer (if there was no ICW). Your w/l length is so short that in six foot seas you're going to be going up and down more than horizontal. Additionally, if the wind is gusting much, you can't get the proper sail rig. Reefed so you're not overpowered in 25 knots, you're underpowered in 15-20.
When reading "Admiral of the Ocean Seas" about Columbus' voyages, in particular I believe the 4th when he sailed from central America back to (I think) Puerto Rico into the teeth of the trades and did it in maybe a week, I'm left scratching my head.
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Old 21-11-2018, 03:35   #15
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Re: I guess gentlemen DON'T go to windward...

Thanks for all the replies. I have to say it made me feel a little depressed to turn back to port, like I had given up or not tried hard enough. But since I didn't have to be out there it just seemed better not to be.

I would say the winds were in the 15-20 kt range. My boat does balance better when I reef the main and fly a full genoa as the wind comes up, the sail is probably about a 135-140. It is a roller furling, which I'm really glad for because no way would I have wanted to be on the foredeck trying wrestle with a sail. The seas were very short and choppy, and I was watching the bow go from way out of the water to just under it a couple of times. She never really "submarined" or tried to bury herself, but it would have been quite a roller coaster I'm sure. Just standing midships while I was reefing the main was fairly difficult, and required timing the waves so I could free one hand to do things. Self-tailing winches would be nice !

So, yes I did try all my possible sail configurations, and motorsailing, and motoring. As far as trying for the gulf stream current, here in north Florida my understanding is its usually about 20 miles off the coast so it wouldn't have been worth it to go so far I don't think. Its only 27.5 miles from St. Augustine to Jacksonville.

I definitely could see that a larger boat would probably have been able to do a better job. Although, I should add that I watched a good sized catamaran that had gone out ahead of me turn around and go back in almost as soon as they had come out. I would say it was a 35-40 footer. But I imagine they would have really been pounding hard with the choppy seas, and maybe they were local just looking for a fun sail, which is not what they found !
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