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Old 25-07-2012, 03:18   #16
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When sailing like this upwind you might find that the wind wants to blow thee bow away as you are going over the top of the wave, effectively helping you to turn downwind just when you need it. Also it helps if you trim the genoa really flat or use a high aspec or blade jib, or perhaps a cutter jib or solent jib.

Steering like this can make a big difference.
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Old 25-07-2012, 04:37   #17
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Re: Sailing between the Swells..

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Originally Posted by foolishsailor View Post
From what you are describing it sounds like you need to steer to "connect" the swells.

Bash described it very well and it is standard practice for racers - it doesn just provide a more comfortable ride it also dramtically increase overall boat speed in these conditions even if you arent surfing.

If the period of the sweels is long enough you should be able to develop a rhythm and if viewed from overhead your track would look like a sine wave. You want to slightly anticipate the swell as it lifts your stern and begin to point closer to perpindicular to the swell face (depending on its angle relative to your point of sail and tack) and as it passes the boat and your stern drops anticipate and begin to turn to increase your angle relative to the wave.

Example:
Boat is on starboard tack on broad reach to make its course

As swell approaches begin heading down just before swell starts to lift the hull (when you do this depends on the turning rate of your boat, a light boat you want to barely begin before the stern lifts, heavy displacment earlier) - the idea beaing you dont wat to initiate the turn down after the stern is already lifted.

As the swell passes the boat head up to ease the motion

Repeat.

How much you head up and down depends on the boat, swell, and also the course you want to end up making.

Just remember it is really only a series of connected S turns made with the correct timing. The most common mistkae when "connecting" sweels - is to oversteer!
Exactly.

It's important to keep the rudder effectively in the water. If you don't, the boat will want to broach. That is possibly what threw the captain out of his berth (it's what threw the porta-potty into my sailing companion's backpack ... ooops!) so it's also really important to have your sails balanced and reefed well for the conditions -- not too little, not too much. Apparently that wasn't an issue in the OP's case since he didn't mention anything the captain did except figure out the steering.

Personally I think the "don't any of you know how to sail" comment was unfair since it was a training passage, but ... you have to have a feel for it. When it happened to me, I got a feel for it and my companion did not -- and would not follow my instructions -- and the results were quite bad. It really is important to sort it out.
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Old 25-07-2012, 04:41   #18
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Re: Sailing between the Swells..

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Originally Posted by foolishsailor View Post
Additionally:

You can do similar upwind. But in reverse.

Example:
You are sailing close hauled.

As the swell approaches and lifts your bow you point closer to the wind and closer to perpindicular to the swelland as it passes under point back down to your course.

Anticipation and rhythm are important just like downwind. You are essentially doing a series of S turns here as well - though usually much smaller movements

There are some key differences though when dealing with swells large enough to shadow wind or swells close enough together that you cant steer them.

Yes. I've only been through this once, and had the additional complication that it was a following sea we were dealing with. That made it harder to use the wind effectively but that was probably due to my inexperience at the time. But in any case, the waves were also close together, and that was a big complication. Timing was everything, and my companion didn't "get" what was going on -- and worse, wouldn't follow my instructions.

By the way, the book with the title "Sailing for Dummies" describes it pretty well -- enough for me to figure out what to do while pretty inexperienced. But we had the additional complications of a main that couldn't be safely reefed, an engine that had lost its fuel supply, a headsail that was caught half up and half down, and either tiller or rudder loosening (turned out to be the tiller, thank goodness). So ... look well to your equipment! This was really my "shakedown" cruise for that boat -- what an apt name for that particular day!
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Old 25-07-2012, 05:02   #19
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Re: Sailing between the Swells..

Sail on the Biscaya and you will learn very quickly how to avoid weird waves (no rogues but weird nonetheless).
Bft 7 will already create some accountable swell. Particularly on the edge of the CF-deep Atlantic (Trevelyan Bank and so on).

The Molengat, the apparoach to Den Helder, is also a center of Creme Chantilly when it blows a bit, whether from SW or NW does' t matter.

A same sort of thing happened to me when sailing a two ton AC and hit by a rain squall that did raise the skipper from his bunk loudly yelling. Then he saw the sea arond him and went down under again.
In the same Molengat you have to face the waves as there is no room to play. The channel is quite narrow and ridden with sandbanks. If you do not follow the bacons, or miss one, you are in deep trouble.
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Old 25-07-2012, 06:19   #20
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Re: Sailing between the Swells..

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Originally Posted by Bash View Post
The skill he demonstrated is something you can learn. Easier to learn in an aft-cockpit boat than a center-cockpit boat. A shame he didn't take the time to explain it.

You want to run at the speed of the swell, if possible. (Easier to do with more waterline, harder to do with less, unless the boat is light enough to surf.) The best place to begin this is at the bottom of an overtaking swell. Begin paying attention to the vertical gain of the transom. When the transom begins to rise, steer down. When the transom begins to fall, steer up.

I've taught people to do this by closing their eyes and just steering according to the feel of being lifted and falling.


Feel is everything! It also helps that you are not trying to multi-task when steering in these conditions. The more you are at ease with the helm and the sea the smoother the ride. Try it ! You'll like it!!!

One of my helicopter instructors did the eyes closed thing as well. He also had his hands and feet in place to take over!!! It really works..
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Old 25-07-2012, 06:55   #21
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Re: Sailing between the Swells..

Swells may come from different directions. Currents, wind and windshifts often directs the motion of the swell.
Biscaya invites you to slalom. Meaning zig-zagging between the waves, looking for gaps to pass easily. It is fun too when the boat is maneuverable and the wind not too strong.
Above Bft 7, I would not know other than riding the waves off.
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Old 25-07-2012, 07:01   #22
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Re: Sailing between the Swells..

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Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
With the wind from the north and traveling east ... It would most likely vary between northeast close hauled (into the waves) and east (broad reach) across the top or between the waves. Have to wonder what the wind would do between those waves and if the captain really sailed "between" the swells.

Miami to Bimini, in the gulf stream, you're going to have to steer SE, about 130 degrees if you want to make Bimini. If you steer between NE and E you're going to end up in Grand Bahama.
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Old 25-07-2012, 10:16   #23
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Re: Sailing between the Swells..

Good observation Vasco, we were actually closer to SE, but the waves were almost perpendicular to us, with an occasional one pushing our stern hard south. I have a lot to try out next week in the Pacific...
This guy wasn't mean- don't get me wrong. He was just tired from too much shore leave. Classic captain. More at home on the water than on land. Had to keep his girlfriend happy (he was in his 80's).
We got him back on the way back- he had bought a bunch on Conch in the Bahamas for his miss's, and had stached it in the freezer. About halfway across the stream he was down sleeping and someone said loudly- "Is that the Coast Guard??" Had to stop him from dumping it overboard while we were laughing so hard we could hardly stand up.
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Old 25-07-2012, 13:05   #24
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Re: Sailing between the Swells..

That was mean...
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Old 25-07-2012, 17:38   #25
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Re: Sailing between the Swells..

Quote:

(...)

it is something that you learn after many many miles of hand steering,without having to look at the compass constantly to keep on course.

something you will never learn using an auto pilot....
50/50

I do sign up to what you are saying about hands on learning. Autopilots make life easier but they do not add to our driving skills.

What I am not certain of is how 'many many' miles there have to be. I have hand steered for at least 20k. Can't say my skills improved.

I believe that (perhaps) in a racing boat, where there is an immediate response from the boat, the driver can build some sort of 'in between the swells' skill.

The point is vast majority of cruising boats sail like eh and they seem to have their own mind on how and when they will yaw, roll, or not.

So my attitude is now sort of 'let her do her own thing'. Rather than trying to make the boat do tricks, I try to save energy and get my body learn the boat's ways.

Big hug,
b.
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Old 25-07-2012, 17:47   #26
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Re: Sailing between the Swells..

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Originally Posted by MacG View Post
Swells may come from different directions. Currents, wind and windshifts often directs the motion of the swell.
Biscaya invites you to slalom. Meaning zig-zagging between the waves, looking for gaps to pass easily. It is fun too when the boat is maneuverable and the wind not too strong.
Above Bft 7, I would not know other than riding the waves off.
Sounds a lot like skiing Moguls to me.
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Old 25-07-2012, 18:04   #27
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Re: Sailing between the Swells..

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Originally Posted by callmecrazy View Post
I don't know if this is the same thing or not, but I was taught a little 'trick' that I forget the name of. Something like "steering by the mast".

Kinda hard to explain....When the boat is rockin & rolling, you steer in the same direction the boat is leaning, as opposed to counter steering. If the boat is rolling to starboard, you steer the boat to starboard. This goes against most principals and intuition, but it works.

Maybe someone else can explain it better.
I was taught a similar technique when first learning the ins and outs of the helm when flying a spinnaker. Simply put, the instruction is to "follow the sail." If the chute wanders left, steer left, and vice versa. Never attempt to pull the chute pack on course with the helm. In other words, "don't fight the chute" (because it's a fight you'll always lose.)
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Old 25-07-2012, 22:40   #28
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Re: Sailing between the Swells..

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Sounds a lot like skiing Moguls to me.
If you don't have a monsterboat, it is not so strange. If you type it as kind of weird, you probably never did. Although seeing your location, you are not sailing in the bathtub either.

Than, it makes quite a difference if you are on a downwind leg or on a up wind leg.
We do not sport quite often running with the wind but are mostly on an upwind course.
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Old 26-07-2012, 04:03   #29
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Re: Sailing between the Swells..

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I always give a bad look to the first mate when I am trying to sleep some while she will ;-) bang our boat into every single wave.
Now, that's a problem.

On a previous yacht (32' Eliminator) we were sailing back into wind from Bahrain when we hit a storm. 30' swells (up between the spreaders), and you never knew what you would hit at the top. Sometimes you would slide straight down the other side, sometimes there would be a mixed up chop that would bash right back at ya. HWMO and I made a point of never hitting the top of a wave nose on, but would bear away a little.

But then came the moment we had to put a crew member on the hull. Experienced Hobie sailor, and treated our boat just like a Hobie. He hit one of these 'mini' waves head on, and bang, the forward bulkhead cracked. Right through.

As it was, we were OK, and the boat held together. But that was structural damage resulting from sheer bloody mindedness from a crew who was well-informed about how we wanted the boat handling, but was too lazy (or brain dead?) to do so.

SO yes, it is VERY important to read the waves, and sail with them, rather than against them.
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Old 28-07-2012, 03:53   #30
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Re: Sailing between the Swells..

Thanks for all the responses. 30 foot swells I would be heaving too, and probably heaving my guts out the cockpit too. I think ocean swell management is rarely talked about but sure makes a difference in passage making. The speed of the swells I am sure is some derivative of the frequency, windstrength and height, but I have yet to figure that out.
Jackdale- if you are approaching the top of a swell, what is the best angle to approach it at? Lets say you are broad reached almost perpendicular to the wind. I have seen a drop off a swell and a near broach, so of course you do not want to be parallel. It is an interesting problem. So much to learn!
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