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.