Speediest Comfortable Sailing Angle

When cruising, times will come when other matters need to be attended to. Cruising is not only about sailing, you need to cook, do the dishes, bathe, sleep, etcetera. Remember, this is not only a sailboat, it's your home!

We have found that following seas are gentle, but rolly. Beating is just plain unbearable! And a beam reach can give you a good roll to leeward every so often. So far, none of these sound like the ideal situation to be standing by a sink or stove!

Our favorite sailing angle is with the true wind a few degrees aft of the beam. Here the apparent wind will be just ahead of the beam, giving you great wind through your sails while keeping the seas gentle as well. The seas approach on the stern quarter first and slowly lift the yacht as they pass, setting you down on their back as they go on. Since the bow is on the back as you ride down the wave, you won't roll to leeward as it drops you.

At this point of sail, we also move along at our quickest. This makes the keel very effective at keeping us straight. The forces of the keel and sails are balanced in such a way that the wave simply lifts and lowers us, no rolling around.

When we are cruising and find ourselves on this point of sail, we get all the housework chores taken care of. If this point of sail only adds a few miles to our next destination, we will take the distance penalty and enjoy an easy ride. Lastly, if this is not our direction but we desperately need comfort inside, we will assume this course.

This has been the case after a week of beating. The dishes were pilling up and something in the sink was starting to smell bad. Neither of us could stand inside while we were beating, so we changed course for an hour and got the boat put back in order. After we finished, we bid goodbye the gentle motion of this point of sail and returned to our course.

When out in the ocean sailing to a distant destination, you will find that doing something like this won't even change the heading to your destination by a single degree. This means there is no penalty to the respite of this comfortable point of sail while you get chores taken care of.

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Flag Size for Blue Water Cruisers

A while ago, I did a post about how to select the proper flag size for your yacht. The longer your yacht, the larger the flag should be, that way it all looks proportional.

This is great for weekenders and coastal cruisers who can avoid bad weather by hiding in a protected cove. This is not the case for a cruiser out in the ocean.

Our flag was tied to the topping lift in a location that I could reach. If foul weather was coming, I would furl the flag around the topping lift and tie it off with another line. I had to do this because the flag was large enough to actually pull on the topping lift and cause us to heel a bit.

The flag met its demise one violent storm when its furling line actually came off and the flag flew free. It beat so violently that it shredded itself.

When selecting a replacement flag, I went a size smaller and tied it in the same place. This flag seems appropriately sized for ocean sailing. In storms, it hasn't caused us any ill effects and has not necessitated a good furling. It is small enough that a violent beating doesn't seem to hurt the cloth, as none of the stitches have worked free. This flag is made by the same manufacturer, so it's not a difference there.

When at anchor, the flag does look small relative to the rest of the yachts, but it is still visible from a distance and meets the legal requirements.

If you are choosing a flag for a coastal boat, get a nice big pretty flag to fly! But if you are planning on crossing blue water, consider choosing a flag that is a size smaller.

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Which Tack Will Produce a Change in the Wind?

There is a simple method to find the center of a low pressure system. Face the wind and hold your right arm straight out to your side, then point. You are now pointing at the center of the low pressure system that is causing the wind you are experiencing. Inversely, perpendicularly and to your left is the center of the high pressure system in your immediate area. This simple trick works in the Northern Hemisphere thanks to the Coriolis Effect. If you are in the Southern Hemisphere, this trick would work with, just using the opposite arms for the low and high.

To answer the original question, which tack will produce a change in the wind? The answer is either tack!

You can not sail directly into the wind, so you need to choose starboard tack or port tack. Port tack will have your bow facing the low pressure system that is causing the present wind, and therefore would eventually lead to more wind.

Starboard tack will have the bow facing the high pressure system that is opposing the low, eventually leading to calmer winds.

There is a way, however, to stay in exactly the same conditions, and that is to sail on an absolute dead run. Here you will simply spiral around the highs and lows without ever moving closer or farther from any of them.

When you are crossing an ocean, just remember the effects that your tack will have in a few days. Starboard tack will produce more wind, port tack will produce calmer conditions.

The giant flaw in this theory is that weather systems move, so if you sail in a straight line towards a low, it might not be there by the time you reach the spot where the center was. So, keep this in mind and be sure to keep an eye on the weather!

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How Do We Power Our Yacht While Crossing an Ocean?

Having an electric motor means that we can't fire up the old diesel to charge up the batteries. When we crossed the Atlantic Ocean in July of 2018, we carried with us three methods of charging. The first is our solar panels. We have 200W on the deck and 100W on the stern as fold out wings. We also have a Honda Generator (EU2000i) and lastly we have the electric motor that functions as a hydro generator.

The solar panels started out as a great method of charging when we were anchored, but failed us on the ocean. The deck panels get stepped on accidentally, or things fall on them, or the salt finally kills them. Either way, both 100W flexible panels are dead and not producing any power.

The 100W on the stern is composed of two 50W rigid panels. One works fine, the other panel corroded away at its terminals, literally corroding away to the panel itself with no way of reworking it!

So, our 300W solar system is limping along at 50W.

Thankfully we have the generator! Right?

Actually, the electric motor functioning as a hydro generator has produced all the power we need and fully met our demands. We have yet to turn on the generator and are nearing land after 22 days at sea.

Right now, as I write this, the motor is producing 4.8amps @48vDC. When this is converted to 12vDC with a step down converter, it becomes 19.2amps @12vDC; silently!

Yes, the electric motor that has a very limited range of motoring offers unlimited and quiet electrical production for us as we sail across the vastness of the Atlantic.

We left Bermuda with 15 gallons of gasoline, and it appears that we will arrive with the same amount in the Azores.

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Observation About Headsail Tack Location and Motion Through Seas

We have crossed the Atlantic on a 1968 Morgan 45 with a full keel and cutter rig. This is a CCA style boat with a LOD of 46 feet and a 32 foot waterline. Yes, 14 feet of the boat hover above the water while at rest.

Our bow has a far amount of overhang, with the staysail's tack just behind the beginning of the waterline and the headstay's tack located several feet ahead of the waterline.

One consistent observation we have noted when sailing, particularly when beating, is the way the yacht moves through the seas depending on which headsail is flying. If we have the job lowered and are only flying the staysail, we will ride up and over the waves. This gives us a much drier ride but a significantly bumpier one. Each wave is a wall that must be scaled and climbed down. This greatly adds to the distance we sail as we are now climbing the face and back of each wave, but we do so in a very calm and collected manner. Our speed suffers significantly as each wall almost stops us in our tracks! The end result is a very slow, albeit dry, passage to windward.

The alternative has also been noted. When we fly the jib on our headstay, we no longer ride up and over waves. Instead, we plow right through them. Water pours over the bow as we turn into a submarine and a river of seawater runs down the deck and off the stern. The river can be quite deep, reaching a few inches deep when beating in heavy conditions. This makes deck work less enjoyable and much less safe. Everything is slippery and a few inches of water rushing past can take away your footing, causing you to slip and fall!

On the other hand, our speed drastically improves as we no longer ride over waves, or slow down for them either.

Having a cutter allows us more versatility in Headsail arrangement and sail balance over a sloop, but now I wonder about sloops with their tack location. Most sloops, but not all, have their tack at the tip of the bow; some have them a few feet back. We have the choice of a fast wet ride or a slow dry ride through the seas, a sloop has the setup given to them by the naval architect.

Please let me know in the comments section below about your experiences with tack positions relative to the waterline and how the yacht handles beating into the seas. Also, I would love to hear from those with a bowsprit, does it provide even more drive through the seas?

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