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Old 13-07-2012, 21:02   #1
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Steering in rough water

Been getting a lot of conflicting info on the best way to steer a sailboat through rough water; some say 45 degrees and some say head on is best.
My current boat is a hunter 33 and has a solid auxiliary which i usually run during times of chop.

What's the best way to go about this? Speed & angle-wise?
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Old 13-07-2012, 21:10   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreggL
Been getting a lot of conflicting info on the best way to steer a sailboat through rough water; some say 45 degrees and some say head on is best.
My current boat is a hunter 33 and has a solid auxiliary which i usually run during times of chop.

What's the best way to go about this? Speed & angle-wise?
dead on the stern you will have to steer to keep the yaw down. But it will be the most comfortable ride by far.
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Old 13-07-2012, 21:14   #3
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Re: Steering in rough water

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreggL View Post
Been getting a lot of conflicting info on the best way to steer a sailboat through rough water; some say 45 degrees and some say head on is best.
My current boat is a hunter 33 and has a solid auxiliary which i usually run during times of chop.

What's the best way to go about this? Speed & angle-wise?
Test it and see. My Hunter 31' does better kind of splitting the difference between head on and 45 degrees. Nothing beats knowing your boat.

If the water is shallow my advice is to turn around and get to deeper water. The rudder is very exposed, and big waves close to shallow water can suck the water out from under the bottom of your boat. If the stern drops more than the bow, the rudder is vulerable. Guss how I know.
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Old 13-07-2012, 21:49   #4
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Re: Steering in rough water

Quote:
Originally Posted by GreggL View Post
Been getting a lot of conflicting info on the best way to steer a sailboat through rough water; some say 45 degrees and some say head on is best.
My current boat is a hunter 33 and has a solid auxiliary which i usually run during times of chop.

What's the best way to go about this? Speed & angle-wise?
When you say you're running your motor, do you mean you have the sails down?

A sail up in some weather can help stabilize the boat a LOT. Try to reef down and let the boat find its groove. Play around heading at different angles to the waves you're dealing with.
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Old 13-07-2012, 21:53   #5
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Re: Steering in rough water

Steer the direction that works best for the boat, conditions, and destination. There is not simple rule. Whatever it takes to get the job done.

That said, downwind is best. Worth changing destinations for in most cruiser's opinions.
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Old 13-07-2012, 23:58   #6
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Re: Steering in rough water

Had an experience where steering a bearing the seas were on the beam, and happened to resonate with the boat's harmonic roll frequency. I found myself steering a zigzag course to keep the waves angled on bow and stern and stop the roll building up to dangerous levels. One guest aboard complained about the zigzag, but probably would have found capsising even less thrilling. Seas dead astern also means the constant watch to prevent a broach....and dead on the bow is good for washing the foredeck off....
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Old 14-07-2012, 05:30   #7
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Thanks!

Target9000, I usually just run the motor as well because the light winds I'm usually dealing with don't help much. Every now and then when the weather picks up I'll drop sails and motor in.
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