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Old 08-01-2009, 15:52   #1
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Out running Weather..Fact or Fiction

Sort of Hijacked the Speed vs comfort thread and I apologize for that so here it is by itself.

Asking out of ignorance.

This avoiding or out running bad weather seems to come up a lot..in reality is there much truth in it? I mean lets compare 6 knots with 8...

OK I will give you that in a 24 hour period that is 48 nautical miles... a decent deference to be sure..but arnt storms SOG much faster then that? There is no way to out run a squall here in the PNW...you may make harbor if you are withing a few miles or say 15 or 20 min.. but I would not use this analogy as successfully out running a storm at sea.

My mind has an easier time grasping this idea of out running weather or getting to the safe side of it if your on a 20+ knot Volvo boat...and then only if its a smaller system thats not chasing you down...but less so in any Cruiser regardless.

Will some of you experienced mega mile sailors please explain this to me.
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Old 08-01-2009, 16:13   #2
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Was in the Pacific off the southern part of Mexico running off the wind when it became a hurricane. Once it was of tripical storm strength I could not even think of turning around into the wind due to the huge seas. It was too dangerous and there was plenty of sea room.

When the boat hit 12 kts I dropped all sails and the boat had 60kts apparent wind. The boat dropped to 10 kts in bare poles and stood straight up with relatively no rolling going down huge seas. No way could I envision facing into that wind. As long as the boat was doing O.K. I was O.K. I could not face looking back because it was too scary and as long as the boat was fine I could hold the adrenalin to a tolerable level focusing on navigation and watching out through the blackness during the day.

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Old 08-01-2009, 16:16   #3
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Cyclones in the north of Australia travel slowly and can be predicted to an extent. They may move at 10 kts but can be more if less intense.
The idea there is to get into the navigatable quadrant instead of the dangerous quadrant.
Of course the difficulty is getting the best news sources on it. All radio station in the cyclone areas of Australia must transmit the cyclone warnings so thats not too bad to get a good location on it.

But all the lesser fronts, squalls etc?

If you can work it when the change is coming then you have a chance. But how many have weather radar from the internet on the boat?

So is a faster boat better or one you spend thousands to have a big dome on top?

Local knowledge must be so important!

My only practical experience was between Panama and Galapagos where you could see the squalls coming and could divert. A couple of times I put the engine on and skedaddled as there wasn’t wind except in the squalls!

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Old 08-01-2009, 16:16   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stillraining View Post
Sort of Hijacked the Speed vs comfort thread and I apologize for that so here it is by itself.

Asking out of ignorance.

This avoiding or out running bad weather seems to come up a lot..in reality is there much truth in it? I mean lets compare 6 knots with 8...

OK I will give you that in a 24 hour period that is 48 nautical miles... a decent deference to be sure..but arnt storms SOG much faster then that? There is no way to out run a squall here in the PNW...you may make harbor if you are withing a few miles or say 15 or 20 min.. but I would not use this analogy as successfully out running a storm at sea.

My mind has an easier time grasping this idea of out running weather or getting to the safe side of it if your on a 20+ knot Volvo boat...and then only if its a smaller system thats not chasing you down...but less so in any Cruiser regardless.

Will some of you experienced mega mile sailors please explain this to me.

I think that I pretty well answered that question in my post on the other thread.

However, when it comes to squalls.......you can track squalls with radar and get a pretty good track on them. In most cases, tracking them can either help you avoid them by changing course or, at the very least, help you time them so that you can shorten sail and have them be less of a nuisance.

Storms, are a very different thing. Unless you have a vessel that can do 20kts and are very good at forecasting, trying to outrun or out maneuver a storm is not only a wasted effort but could very well place you in a worse position than just maintaining course and planning for the worst.

I suggest carrying a parachute storm anchor and having the ability to maintain station in relative comfort while a storm passes over. It is actually a very comfortable way to ride out a storm. I always carried one on boat deliveries. On other people's small boats, I would deploy the parachute in anything over 30-35kts of wind. I never had to sit on it more than 24 hours and I didn't have to be concerned about breaking anything while sailing in heavy weather. It just isn't necessary these days.

Hurricanes/cyclones are a different subject all together and should be avoided at all cost. That's mainly timing but sometimes....sh*t happens. As previously mentioned try to get in the best quadrant and deploy the parachute......never leave home without one.
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Old 08-01-2009, 17:57   #5
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`To my thinking the speed vs comfort thing becomes more relevant in passages of around 500 - 600 miles or so. With modern weather tracking and forecasting, I believe you can obtain pretty reliable forecasts for approximately 5 days or so. Much past that reliability slips away, Less than that...3 to 4 days...it's even better.

So, if you have a vessel that can achieve 150 miles per day..an average of 6.25 k you can cover the distance say, between Newport and Bermuda in 4 days or so.

Speed gets you 600 miles in 4 days..which to me is the limit of reliable predictions.
On voyages longer than 600 miles...the likelihood of encountering a major weather system shift grows greater. So in Voyages over 600 miles..I believe comfort becomes increasingly more important. ( comfort being seakindly )

Squalls pop up, as do thuinderstorms...you might see them in time to prepare or steer around a little...but you probably won't outrun them..

It's the major systems that you'd want to avoid if at all poassible.

I see the merits of speed and comfort.
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Old 08-01-2009, 17:58   #6
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This question is like asking; …. “How many times can you run naked across a busy interstate highway before you get run over or at least get caught with your pants down?”

Obviously the faster you can run, the better your chances but anyone who uses speed to defend that practice is “nuts”

Crossing Oceans you plot your course to avoid storms by looking at weather forecasts 5 to 7 days ahead of your projected position to see what is developing in front of you.

If nasty then you alter course by sometimes only changing from a GC to RL in order to be in a more favorable wind quadrant and often slowing down so as to allow the worst of a depression to pass ahead of you.

The bottom line is that the combination of speed and heavy weather kills!


Better you focus on boat strength and intelligent forecasting to keep you out of harms way.
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Old 08-01-2009, 19:41   #7
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I have made the run from Seattle to Dutch Harbor more times than I can count. It is a 7 day run with a 10 kt boat. (fishing boat)I have learned a lot over the last 25 years with winter crossing the North Pacific. Most times I feel like a bowling pin at the end of the bowling alley looking for the ball rolling at me...:-)
Learning about the 500 MB line and tracking the storms a few days ahead and with a little luck I can get the wind on the Stern Qtr.
Making a course change a day or two ahead of time can make a big difference with those lows. Much better to be on top of them then in front or below them.
I usually leave Seattle and start tracking the lows. I can poke my head out 24 hours later or keep going north. The whole time looking for the tracks. When I get above the low I duck out and ride the SE winds to the NW then hope for E winds and then start looking for the next bowling ball
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Old 09-01-2009, 02:45   #8
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The only weather I've ever outrun was in a flats boat in the Florida Keys doing 35 knots to get out of the way of a squall. Virtually no boat can outrun the weather.
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Old 09-01-2009, 07:13   #9
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The only weather I've ever outrun was in a flats boat in the Florida Keys doing 35 knots to get out of the way of a squall. Virtually no boat can outrun the weather.

To go fast enough to avoid some weather that is on top of you is one defintion of avoiding weather.
Avoiding or maneuvering to pick up weather or avoid it days a ahead of time is a fact of life for many (thousands) of ships at sea. On the fringes of the envelope you have 600 mile a day race boats charging around the world that are picking up and dropping out of the weather like a video game....:-)
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Old 09-01-2009, 08:47   #10
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To be honest we have never made any attempt to out run any weather, and don’t rely on any forecast over a couple days.

Avoiding nasty stuff....you bet.

I'm comfortable in knowing that we can take some really bad stuff...and it does all pass.
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Old 09-01-2009, 09:22   #11
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Hi,
We've done lots of up to five day / 700 mile passages and only a couple longer so limited experience, but I've always been an avocate of speed capacity to help avoid trouble - be it motor car or yacht.
Certainly on crossing the Altantic E to W two years back we found our speed allowed us to avoid bad weather. We routed intially due west when most others went south of the rhumb line. We did this to try and queeze over the top of a likely weather convergence happening on the rhumb line 1,000 miles out. We got maybe 700 miles west and realised the convergance had formed, and moved northward. So we'd not make it over the top. So again used our speed to zoom 1,000 due south and drop below the bad stuff (and its even more southerly soft stuff) and then swing due west once more and make St Lucia (from Gran Canaria) in 16 days 1 hour - just holding our own against the tail end of a hurricane visiting the N Caribbean.
We got in and were well snugged up as many other slower yachts battled to handle 60 knots plus for a few days more. Lots of damage to lots of rigs. I'm obviously glad we had the speed we could use.
But obviously one needs to know whats happening with weather to use the speed to best effect. I would never ever consider a 3,000 mile passage without contracting a weather router to give advice by email on a 48 hour basis. Costs are real low compared with days wasted or damage sustained.
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Old 09-01-2009, 19:15   #12
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Best books I ever read on weather were written in the 50's. They are cheap and timeless. Illustrations and explanations anyone can understand. I have access to any number of weather information electronically. But the foundation of my understanding came from these books.

Amazon.com: eric sloane's weather book: Books


As a little aside. We just retired a 65 year old Portuguese fisherman (65 years old working on deck in the Bearing Sea in the winter) who had been going to sea 8 to 10 months a year since he was 8 years old. The guy was UNCANNY in his ability to see weather coming. Sometimes we would have storm (hurricane force wind) warnings out on the sideband radio, for the entire Aleutian Penisula.... and most boats would stay in. I would ask Tony what he saw....oh Capt. you got 24 hours at least before wind come.....or he would do it just the opposite....wind come preeety soon Capt....and I am like What? What do you see?, the forcast is good...sure enough he would put on soup and start stowing stuff and it would blow.... Or we would be in a *hitty confused 20 foot choppy sea, and he would come and say "sea be quiet soon"....change of tide sea come down.....sure enough. It was unreal, and try as I may I never got 10% of his skills.
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Old 09-01-2009, 19:33   #13
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speed is not so much about outrunning the storms...

...as it is about shrinking the size of the weather window you'll need to make the next hop.
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Old 09-01-2009, 20:20   #14
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Question Question:

This is very interesting thread along with "Speed vs Comfort". I'm going to ask what is probably a very naive question, but I think it gets to the crux of many a question: Should my cruising sailboat be built strong and and seakindly in 30+ wind and the waves they drive, or should my boat have that 1-2 kt. edge in speed to maneuver to better seas? Assume safety is priority #1. Can the question be quantified in these terms: All things being equal, except the boats, one is a 36 J-boat and the other a 36 Hans Christian. They travel 20,000 miles in 3 years, to the same set of South Pacific destinations under the same average/normal weather conditions. Ball park, educated guesses:

What factor of time would the slower boat spend in adverse weather versus the faster boat; 2 times as much, 3 times or maybe it would be insignificant.

If you don't like my scale use your own. I hope this isn't highjacking this thread, if so I'll start another.
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Old 09-01-2009, 20:48   #15
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[quote=porttack;242167]This is very interesting thread along with "Speed vs Comfort". I'm going to ask what is probably a very naive question, but I think it gets to the crux of many a question: Should my cruising sailboat be built strong and and seakindly in 30+ wind and the waves they drive, or should my boat have that 1-2 kt. edge in speed to maneuver to better seas? Assume safety is priority #1. Can the question be quantified in these terms: All things being equal, except the boats, one is a 36 J-boat and the other a 36 Hans Christian. They travel 20,000 miles in 3 years, to the same set of South Pacific destinations under the same average/normal weather conditions. Ball park, educated guesses:

What factor of time would the slower boat spend in adverse weather versus the faster boat; 2 times as much, 3 times or maybe it would be insignificant.

I would take a boat that sails well any day over a slower "tough" boat. The problem with using a lighter faster boat is, unless you are very diligent, you will overload it with to many "modern inconveniences" and your formerly faster and sea kindly boat becomes an overloaded slug that can't take a beating as it was designed to be up and running, not slugging it out.
It is a big problem with multihulls, they get loaded down with weight they are not designed to carry, and can't take the seas as they pound underneath, and on top as the boat can't rise with buoyancy, sluggish progress and lousy motion are a result. Dangerous stuff
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