Article on how to take on waves

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NiceAft
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Article on how to take on waves

Post by NiceAft » Wed May 28, 2014 1:39 pm

I found this article in BOATUS magazine, fascinating.

Ray

http://www.boatus.com/magazine/2014/jun ... wisdom.asp
Last edited by NiceAft on Wed May 28, 2014 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mrron_tx
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Re: Article on how to take on waves

Post by mrron_tx » Wed May 28, 2014 2:10 pm

That is a good article Ray. Now having read it.....I would be headed for a safe harbor way before they got to the 6ft point :D I've spent too much $'s and lots of hours getting Dauntless ready for My last hoorah , to have it trashed by My stupidity :) Ron.

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Re: Article on how to take on waves

Post by NiceAft » Wed May 28, 2014 2:13 pm

I've spent too much $'s and lots of hours getting Dauntless ready for My last hoorah , to have it trashed by My stupidity Ron.

That could be your last hoorah :D

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Re: Article on how to take on waves

Post by Highlander » Wed May 28, 2014 5:24 pm


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Re: Article on how to take on waves

Post by beene » Wed May 28, 2014 5:38 pm

Thanks Ray...

Good find

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Ixneigh
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Re: Article on how to take on waves

Post by Ixneigh » Wed May 28, 2014 5:48 pm

I saw that too. Interesting piece. Macs should hopefully never get near any six foot breakers.
Ix

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Re: Article on how to take on waves

Post by Chinook » Wed May 28, 2014 7:13 pm

Florida's east coast is indented with numerous inlets, which connect the ICW and related waters with the open Atlantic. Several of these inlets, including Jupiter Inlet which is spectacularly pictured in the article, come with serious warnings in the cruising guides. Local knowledge only, and only in very settled conditions. Strong currents run in and out of these inlets, and the smaller ones, like Jupiter, build up serious sand bars on the outside, which can easily result in breaking waves. If you're coming in from the ocean side, breaking waves are almost impossible to see until you're in them. Things can go from smooth to dangerous very quickly. On our way to and from the Bahamas, we've exited and entered at Lake Worth (Palm Beach) Inlet with no problems. Lake Worth is considered one of the easiest inlets on the Florida east coast. We also exited south of Key Biscayne, which is very open. We returned via St. Lucie Inlet under very favorable conditions one time. St. Lucie has more problems with shoaling than Lake Worth, but in good weather and close to slack, it's not that difficult, and it gets a lot of traffic.

One of the scariest experiences we ever had in our boat involved breaking waves, and it still amazes me how quickly we found ourselves in potentially serious trouble. The incident happened two years after we bought our boat. We were making a 1 mile run from the north shore of Grand Bahama Island, near the western tip, around the jetty and into Old Bahama Bay Marina. We'd rounded the jetty a few days before, passing between the point and a small island, in glassy smooth conditions. The pass is shallow, only about 4 or 5 feet, but no problem for the Mac. On the morning that we wanted to return and get into Old Bahama Bay, a brisk 12 to 15 knot NE breeze was coming in off the Little Bahama Banks. It was kicking up a 2 foot chop, with a few whitecaps. I expected no problem getting around the corner and into the marina. From my eye level, sitting at the wheel, it looked like just more whitecaps in the narrow, shallow pass. Before I realized my error, we were in 5 to 6 foot breaking waves. My first instinct, going back to my canoeing experience, was to ease into the waves, like I did in my canoe when facing whitewater standing waves, so as to avoid burying the nose of the canoe in a wave. Backpaddling in those conditions actually works well. I quickly learned that this was the wrong tactic in this case. The first breaking wave slewed us radically to starboard, and the second one poured green water over the cockpit railing, into the cockpit, and down into the cabin, much to the shock and dismay of Sandy, who was down below. With several inches of water sloshing around the floor of the cabin, she grabbed the hatch and jammed it into place. Meanwhile, up at the helm, I realized that one more wave like the one that came aboard would likely broach and swamp us. I abandoned my canoe strategy and jammed the throttle of my 50 hp outboard forward. The instant power gave me control, and I was able to straighten the boat out before striking the next wave. She took it well and we proceeded to bull our way through the dangerous water, a distance of not more than 75 yards.

I had managed to land us right in the middle of what in the Bahamas they call a rage sea, which occurs in shallow, narrow places when tidal current opposes wind and/or swell. We were pretty shaken by the time we rounded the point and entered the harbour. As a side note, the seat cushion on the ice chest locker got soaked by the incoming wave, and after tying the boat up, I brought the cushion up topside, removed the foam cushion from its zippered cover, wrung out the foam, and draped the cover over a lifeline to dry while we went for a walk to settle our nerves. After we got back from our walk, the seat cover was gone. Apparently, wind had caught it and flipped it into the water. I dove looking for it, but couldn't find it. After we got home from the trip, I contacted BWY to see about getting a replacement cover. Surprisingly, they had one for that seat, however, the pattern didn't exactly match the rest of our cushions. Now, every time I go down into the cabin and notice that mismatched cushion cover, I think about that day in the Bahamas and give thanks for having the power in that 50 hp outboard when I really needed it.

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Re: Article on how to take on waves

Post by vizwhiz » Wed May 28, 2014 8:15 pm

There was a good short article in Sail mag also that discussed the way to handle waves also, though less about large dangerous types and more about general boat handling for keeping on course.

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Re: Article on how to take on waves

Post by kelseydo » Thu May 29, 2014 6:55 am

vizwhiz, this is indeed a very good article. It is not always possible to avoid and season before last I found myself and 96X in the middle of the conditions described, at night, for about two hours as I fought my way to protected waters. I'm a novice solo sailor and reverted to power boat experience on that night. I can’t imagine solo under sail in these conditions with my skill set. The X and M can handle 5’ plus breaking waves using the tactics described in the article but I did not like it one bit. The strain on the steering gear was tremendous. I submitted a long post under the misleading title “Rocna Review – Long Post Warning” http://www.macgregorsailors.com/forum/v ... =9&t=20790 if you would like to review it.
DanO

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Re: Article on how to take on waves

Post by RobertB » Thu May 29, 2014 7:21 am

Not the worst I have been in but for the past few years, we have made a late summer visit to Smith Island from Point Look Out on the lower part of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. While I prefer easing into rough water/tall waves at about 40 degrees, at least one way, I need to run with the waves. Last trip, I got pretty good using the throttle to hold my position relative to the waves, preferably just on the front side, essentially surfing.

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Re: Article on how to take on waves

Post by yukonbob » Thu May 29, 2014 10:48 am

I do a lot of white water kayaking in the summer months. I’ve watched a fourteen foot white water raft tumble end over end down the front side of waves and back down into a hole, I’ve been recirculated in and out of boats, sucked into whirlpools boat included and pinned to the bottom of rivers. The first thing new people tend to do when they get into bigger water is stop paddling and/or try to back paddle. This is the worst thing to do. In order to keep control you need to be moving forward. The harder you paddle forward the less the current throws you around and the more control you have. The moment you stop moving through the current the current gains control and you are at its mercy.

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Phil M
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Re: Article on how to take on waves

Post by Phil M » Thu May 29, 2014 10:54 am

For our Macs with a stronger motor than most other sailboats, using the motor to power into large breaking waves at a slight angle makes sense. But downwind? Would a reefed main not give better overall stability and control?

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Re: Article on how to take on waves

Post by RobertB » Thu May 29, 2014 11:22 am

Just to clarify, I do not use the motor to "back paddle" - I use it to hold my position relative to the waves since when a wave overtakes our shallow/round bottom, directional control is momentarily lost and very disturbing to me and my passengers. And yes, having the more powerful motor helps here.
As far as using the sail for stability, we did this also the last time and I agree this is good also.

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Re: Article on how to take on waves

Post by mastreb » Thu Jun 05, 2014 10:18 pm

It's an excellent article.

I frequently deal with very large rolling waves here in the San Pedro Channel. 6' is typical and I've been out in as large as 8', but these are rollers, not breakers, and they're long period--typically about 50' in length. That makes them very easy to deal with except in cases where they're so fast that the boat cannot keep up with them at WOT, which does happen. I personally find it rather exhilarating, and despite the beating the rig takes the Mac has never complained. My crew tend to be a bit terrified of it however.

Even small breakers scare me as its very difficult to maintain directional stability in them. I did not realize how much more of a capsize danger they represent; I will endeavor to avoid them completely. The rule mentioned in the paper is a breaking wave height of 1/3 LOA is a 100% danger of 130 degree capsize on a beam breaking wave. For our purposes, vanishing stability is 110 degrees which means this turtles a Mac, and the wave height to do it is 8-9 feet. Sobering indeed. This means Macs are safe through Beaufort Force 5 winds, 6 is risky, and certainly no more than six is even remotely safe.

First things first, in heavy seas all passengers and crew except the helmsman are below decks and as aft as possible. This keeps the bow up, which is what you want in pretty much all circumstances in my experience, even with following seas. It keeps the prop low, prevents ventilation (which is frequent) and keep the bow from plowing. Hatches are battened down, and I operate the helm with a PFD, tied off to a dockline, and with the kill cord attached to my watch. The idea here is to self-rescue if I go overboard and just get right back to it.

Like Robert, I use the throttle primarily to maintain position and control inside the way, generally attempting to stay on the backside of a wave for as long as possible. This avoids swamping/boarding from the stern and it avoids having the helm overcome and the boat rotated. When the wave breaks or I can no longer keep the boat in that position, I'll power over the wave and get into the same position in the next one.

I don't attempt to put sail out in heavy seas at all, although if the wind is correct I may unfurl the genoa a patch to stabilize the boat's direction. All boards are up: I have yet to find a circumstance where having any board down at all in heavy seas is a good thing. Typically they bite way more than you want, and the boat will rotate on the daggerboard or the waves will grab the rudders and turn the boat for you. Even at low speeds, the motor skeg is generally enough as long as you realize that skating around atop the waves is okay.

Also consider that having the boards up makes it much less likely that a sudden beam wave will roll you and much faster to return if you are rolled. If I need a board down, it's just a single rudder--that way, if it breaks off I have another one, and of course this is only below 5 knots.

Probably a drogue would help considerably, but I'm no expert in their use and am not the person to comment on how to use them correctly in heavy seas.

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Re: Article on how to take on waves

Post by Sloop John B » Sat Jun 07, 2014 9:52 am

Don't get mired down with a "schedule" when island hopping. Stay the heck in protected waters. Wind velocity alone lets you know what it's like "out there". I now sail the Elizabethan Islands in New England. It involves the open Atlantic. Many small plane crashes are caused by a stupid deadline. A few books you're waiting to get to,and some extra booze and grub will get you through. Simply avoid the challenge. The Mac isn't built for rough seas; too much of it is above the water line. I've stuck my nose out there a couple times with "my only day off" but no more. No fun.

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