Weather Routing and Seaworthiness

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by RHough, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. RHough
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    RHough Retro Dude

    This is an off shoot of the "Seaworthiness" thread.

    Link

    I am a proponent of good seamanship as the major factor in safety compared to design. I think a good sailor using information that is widely available has the ability to avoid sailing in extreme conditions.

    To test this ability, I asked that a reasonable route be chosen and I would attempt to route around any storms:

    So far the first test run will be from the Canary Islands to the UK in May/June of this year.

    If anyone has any other ideas for routes please chime in. :)

    Here is the proposed low chance of gales route for the trip:
     

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  2. RHough
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    RHough Retro Dude

    Not so much work. :)

    For planning, I use Virtual Passage Planner. It has pilot chart data and the ability to optimize routes based on several criteria based on the performance of the boat. I used the racing polars for my Catalina 30 and assigned an 80% of predicted speed to use for route planning. My experience has been that I can do better than 80%.

    For real time I use Ray Tech Navigator. It is based on the Kiwi-Tech software that was used for on-board weather routing in the Whitbread.

    I get 3 day or 7 day GRIB's in e-mail every 24 hours. The software uses the real time forecast and the boat's polars to compute an optimum route. By altering the polars to show 0 knots potential boat speed in 40+ knots, the optimum route must avoid predicted areas of high winds.

    It will be interesting to see how the routing using the real time predictions compares to the suggested route based on the pilot chart data.

    I also get weather fax's that give up to 96 hours forecast. Looking at the weather fax and the route planned by Ray Tech serves as the first "reality check"

    Cheers,

    Randy
     
  3. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    Nice job, Randy. This is going to be intersting.
    Now get your boat ready for the passage. It's about time! :D
    Cheers.
     
  4. Vega
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    Vega Senior Member


    Nice thread Randy. I would avoid the Biscay. There is a big rise of the ocean floor there and very nasty storms with big waves can happen easily.

    I would avoid that going directly to Porto Santo (Madeira) and then, Canary Islands. Better wind also, out of the African coast.
     
  5. SuperPiper
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    SuperPiper Men With Little Boats . .

    Excellent test.

    Is there a virtual rescue service?

    Good luck Randy.
     
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  6. SouthernCross
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    SouthernCross Junior Member

    up the stakes and do it for real? :D
     
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  7. timgoz
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    timgoz Senior Member

    Armchair sailing in the electronic age.

    Real life has a tendency to thwart the best laid schemes.

    Do it for real & hope your real time weather updating electronics do not go on the blink.

    TGoz
     
  8. hiracer
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    hiracer Senior Member

    Disagree. An isolated leg like this is not that hard. An extended cruise over a period of years will necesitated being in the wrong place at the wrong time to some degree, especially as one tires of the milk run and tropical areas.

    I want to go to the Aleutians.

    And what do you do when your on board electronics go flat in remote areas? This is an exercise in optimism.
     
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  9. SuperPiper
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    SuperPiper Men With Little Boats . .

    And I disagree with you, hiracer. If Randy can sail the rhumbline and never see 40knot winds, the test will be indecisive. If Randy has to sail all over the North Atlantic to avoid 40knot winds, the test may prove his point.

    Are you afraid that he will fail? Or, are you afraid that he may succeed?

    Randy, great initiative. Go for it, Columbus.
     
  10. Guillermo
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    Guillermo Ingeniero Naval

    As the own Randy stated at the seaworthines thread, succeeding or failing will be not conclusive. But it's going to be interesting. And fun!

    Cheers.
     
  11. hiracer
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    hiracer Senior Member

    I'm afraid that he may succeed, and then others will conclude that his method can succeed everywhere, any time.

    Somebody tell me, what exactly his success will mean?

    If the point is to 'prove' that seaworthy boat design is thing of the past because of onboard electronic weather prediction software, then I'm fully missing something. Weather bombs develop in the north Pacific so fast, and can be so local, that NOAA doesn't even know about them until some unlucky boater reports it to them.

    Surely what he is doing has value, but exactly what is that value and what does it mean?

    * * *

    And I really do want to go to the Aleutians I add, not so rhetorically. June 15 to July 30. I already know the time line. And I already know that the odds of getting hit by a storm during this 'good' weather window is pretty stinking high.

    * * *

    I agree about the fun part, however. And interesting.
     
  12. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member


    HiRacer,

    Why in the world do you think this simple test piece will make any difference at all to how unprepared boaters may view their potential for success? It's my experience, that people who are going to go for static test scenarios as dynamic proof, already have their agendas firmly in their heads. It makes nearly no difference whatsoever what proof or no proof Randy develops in the exercise to that end.

    Randy's success in the matter proves that there are reasonably available tools, as yet another element in the on-going struggle to keep our asses alive on the ocean. If the stuff is out there... why would you want to pretend it isn't available for your consideration? I'm guessing that you have something fairly comtemporary under you for this planned Aleutian trip, do you not? Is it equipped with a radio? Yeah, you know, that modern thing that crackles in the nav station, so you can call for help when the time arrives.

    There used to be (no check that) There still are, folks who think it's ridiculous to go to sea with a radio in their tub. "That's no damn excuse for salty seamanship. Rely on that fool thing and yer goin down to see Davey Jones"

    Come on, man, it's an exercise. This visit of ours on this little blue ball is about learning all we can while we are here in the hope that someone coming along after us just might get a better shot at keeping his own flame going.

    My Dad did that for me and so did my neighbors. Looks like Randy is doing it too.

    Chris
     
  13. RHough
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    RHough Retro Dude

    Good comments here.

    It seems that just offering the idea that weather routing is available to the average sailor is heresy to some people. :)

    Why use any aids at all? No sextants, no watches, no charts, no compass.

    If there is value in the experience of others and tools to make safe navigation easier why not learn about them and use them? The point is that you have to work at it to get caught unaware by a storm at sea.

    Obviously, it makes sense to prepare yourself and the boat for more extreme conditions than you anticipate. It also makes sense to me to avoid sailing in storms if you can. If you can't, you should be able to limit the time you spend in storms by routing wisely.

    If you use a depth sounder and a chart to reduce the risks of running aground, why not use other tools to reduce the risk of sailing in storms? Weather routing no more guarantees never sailing in a storm than a depth sounder guarantees never running aground. :)

    The only way I become comfortable with something is by practice. When I do this for real, I want to have the system sorted out. Practice runs to become familiar with the software should reduce the risk of operator error when the time comes. Just like practicing any other skill on a boat.

    For instance, there is no point on the rhumline from Hawaii to Vancouver that has predicted winds over 30 knots in the next three days. That's 2200+ miles of ocean on the third day of spring and not one storm, not even a gale.

    My interest in routing is to plan a Pacific Triangle. I'd leave Vancouver in September and work down the coast to San Francisco. Then on to San Diego and the Baja Ha-Ha rally to Cabo San Lucas in early November. Spend the winter in the Sea of Cortez and Puerto Vallarta, then head to Hawaii and back to Vancouver in the spring. Planning to arrive in Vancouver in early May. I'd like to have some confidence that the plan is not foolish and that I have not chosen a passage that is likely to become a survival experiment. :)

    Early in March I routed from Cabo San Lucas to Hawaii and never found winds over 30 knots. I'm virtually enjoying the beach and plan to watch the weather and leave for Vancouver in April. We'll see if I have to survive any storms along the way.:D

    When I hear that sailing in a storm is a matter of when not if, I just remind myself of the people I know that spent 13 years cruising around the world and saw winds over 50 knots once ... in a 45 minute squall in the Med ... not once during an ocean passage.
     
  14. hiracer
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    hiracer Senior Member

    Please don't put words in my mouth. Any increase in the body of knowledge about weather and its prediction is a GOOD THING for sailors. I have never said anything to the contrary.

    My concern is how this increase in weather knowledge and the prediction thereof will have a detrimental effect on seaworthy boat design. That will be a BAD THING.

    I will go on record predicting that further sacrifices in the seaworthiness of cruising boat designs will occur as a result of this quantum leap in weather prediction.

    Again, my concern is not what sailors are going to do with this new ability. I'm concerned about what you designers are going to do with it. This is only going to add pressure on the designer to sacrifice seaworthy attributes in favor of speed. That is why I'm holding my breath.

    With regard to cruising designs, the line of responsibility for safety between sailor and ship is being shifted more and more onto the shoulders of the sailor. This new tool in weather prediction will only exacrebate that trend.
     

  15. Chris Ostlind

    Chris Ostlind Previous Member

    Connective Tissue


    Let me get this correct... Are you suggesting that improvements in overall sailing technology will make for boat designs that are functionally worse when used out on the sea?

    The inverse of this is that we should be using the most primitive materials, tools and techniques in order to have more seaworthy boats and boating experiences.

    Your assumption that enhanced technology will somehow induce reputable designers to produce less safe craft is astounding. Does that also apply across the board for all other facets of the human condition?

    How about... I'm a considerably less responsible father because I have access, via telephone, to the locations and participants in my son's life? That my photography career is significantly degraded because I engaged the digital environment for my chosen tools? That my wife is less of a lover because she likes to wear outrageous, techno strappy pumps?

    You get the picture.

    I'm really glad you have gone, "on the record" on all this. I feel safer already.

    Chris
     
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