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Old 03-07-2007, 07:50   #1
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Suggestions on safe wave heights for 32'

Hi folks,

My wife and I are taking our 32' sport cruiser on a summer cruise from Portsmouth, NH to Norwich, CT and back, about 600 miles in 9 days. I'm interested any thoughts or guidance as to the safe range of coastal cruising sea states our type of boat is capable of.

The Gloucester to Cape Cod Canal leg had 3' - 5' with occassional larger waves, especially entering the canal. The boat handled great making 20 - 25 kts without excessive pounding. The remaining legs from Cape Cod to Norwich saw calm seas. The extended forecast predicts 4' - 7' for our planned departure day, which is larger than I would like for 50 mile legs.

Thanks in advance.

Jeff
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Old 03-07-2007, 10:34   #2
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Jeff - Height is just one factor. You also want to find out the frequency. 10 foot swells at 16 seconds are better than 3 foot swells at 3 seconds. In most cases a little planning and review of conditions can help you avoid any of those nasty conditions. You may want to consult with: NDBC - Northeast USA Recent Marine Data

Good Luck.
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Old 03-07-2007, 10:40   #3
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For those interested I had a good chat with an experienced licensed captain who is also a good friend. His input was that it is more a matter of comfort and speed rather than safety for the conditions and boat type stated. He did suggest having a sea anchor just in case we were to loose power, but otherwise the boat was capable of navigating safely in 4' - 7' seas.

Cheers
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Old 03-07-2007, 14:13   #4
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but otherwise the boat was capable of navigating safely in 4' - 7' seas.
Absolutley. I am far more experianced at extreme 4WD than sailing at the mo, but from what I learn't from most of my life in 4wdriving and now some of the experiances of sailing I have encountered, I can safely say that in most circumstances that most of us will ever encounter, the crew is the limit to the boat and not the otherway around. You will always find your boat will handle the sea's far better than you thought any vessel could. It is very humbling and daunting to be in big sea's and they make you feel very small and vonerable way before your tiny vessel actually becomes so.
Yes there is always going to be a few sailors out there that get to experiance the extremes and in that situation, there boat saftey could be on a knife edge, but for most of us, the boat will always get us through.
"The only thing we have to fear......is fear its'self"
Was that Rooservelt???
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Old 03-07-2007, 14:35   #5
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Also, a good guideline in the USA (if your sport cruiser is seaworthy) is to listen to NOAA. When there is a small craft advisory up, it's going to be uncomfortable. If there isn't one, you have a good chance of an average day.

I'm from the Northeast and the advisories are fairly accurate here.

Have fun!

Oh, and it's Buzzard's Bay you'll want to be most careful in. Typical winds funnel up it and make some large waves up toward the canal. Also, lost of commercial traffic.

Lastly, watch out for the queasies off of Newport and Block Island. The seas are almost always confused there.
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Old 03-07-2007, 15:07   #6
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If you can hold your speed down to hull speed as sail boats have to do, then you can probably go through some pretty high seas if the waves are not spaced too closely. Most Sea Ray captains/owners I know had rather sit in the marina until seas are relatively flat---say, less than 3 feet and then go like hell to the next marina than to poke along at 5 to 6 knots like a ragtop boat. If you can cruise at 20 to 25 kts. most powerboaters with planing or semi-planing hulls like yours had rather not risk the discomfort of a rough passage but opt for optimum conditions when they can go fast. Since I am not familiar with your cruising area I do not know if you get those realatively calm conditions at the time of your proposed cruise. The length of crossings or passages also work into the equation when deciding what you want to do. Me, I like 5 to 7 foot seas with about 18 to 20 kt breezes, especially when on a broad reach.
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Old 03-07-2007, 16:50   #7
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We have crossed the Strait in 5 metre swells with waves breaking on them. The big monster swells from the South roll under the boat quite easily with the tops of some of them breaking occasionally. We just have to pick our way around the breaking ones.

We have had rougher feeling trips coming home in 1 metre Northly swells with confused waves of 1 or two metres.

It is always different. Big spaced swells are better than confused close waves though.
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Old 04-07-2007, 21:31   #8
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Hello All,

Thank you for the input, guidance and insights. We've been checking the buoy data, marine forecasts, and talking with other cruisers. Most likely we'll depart on Friday, given the small craft advisory and t-storm warnings for tomorrow. Block Island Sound & Buzzard's Bay are the biggest question marks but much better later in the week.

I do agree with Alan Wheeler that crew comfort and willingness is the bigger factor. My wife has been terrific thus far and there's nothing to gain by bashing her about in rough seas when a 24 hr delay would make all the difference.

I have no problem slogging along at hull speed accept to note that a sail boat does so much more comfortably than a deep vee planing hull that's designed to run.

Cheers
Jeff
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Old 04-07-2007, 21:40   #9
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S/V Elusive, thank you for the link. Very useful.

Cheers
Jeff
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Old 04-07-2007, 21:50   #10
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I have known more than one wife to chuck in cruising when the husband scared her on a bad crossing. Then where we cruise, some wives take the Interislander ferry, but some are lost to cruising forever. Their partners then have to go on "boys only" trips complete with the bad cooking.
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Old 04-07-2007, 21:53   #11
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Alan / Seafox,
Is there a local cruising pilot of sailing conditions in and around the Cook strait area. Similar perhaps to the Royal Akarana cruising handbook that covers from Napier to Spirits bay. We are considering coming down the west coast, to Mana, Tasman bay, Marlborough Sounds, Wellington etc. After reading of Alans trip to collect his new mast I feel we need access to local knowledge.
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Old 04-07-2007, 22:03   #12
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There is the Cental Crusing Guide, the older copies are labelled "A cruising man's guide to the Marlborough Sounds and Tasman Bay". By Keith Murray and Ralph S Von Kohorn.

If you email the mana cruising Club Mana Cruising Club | The best boating club facilities in New Zealand they sell copies for around $40 - $50.
The book has a section on the Cook Strait and is the best you can get on the area.
They also sell the Cruising notes to the area.

You can sometimes get them on trademe.
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Old 04-07-2007, 22:03   #13
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Wow,......I beat Alan to reply Chalk that one up
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Old 04-07-2007, 22:09   #14
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Thanks Seafox, I will follow up on that and must look in on the "best boating facilities"

never let it be said that I have left unsaid that which goes without saying
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Old 04-07-2007, 22:13   #15
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yeah, I just put the website address in and it came up "best facilities etc" all by itself.
Let us know closer to the time when you are coming and I can help you re our bar etc. Peter the marina manager is the guy to email re a berth. $20 a night casual. mana.marina@xtra.co.nz He is a good guy.
Will have a beer with you when you get here. Might even take Seafox over the Sounds when you go.
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