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.

Spinal Pain

Maddie and I have both been suffering from an odd issue. We are young and healthy, yet each morning we awake with pain in our lower back, specifically around the lumbar spine. We were perplexed since we have tried sleeping in different beds thinking it was the mattress, and sleeping in different positions, thinking it was how we slept. Nothing seemed to change, we kept waking up with soar spines!

This morning I awoke halfway, the point where you are mentally awake but your body hasn't begun to move or respond yet. I noticed something. With each wave, my torso remained static along with my head, but my hips jostled around with my legs. Each wave for the 4 hours we get to sleep while off watch is twisting our spine round and round. Each wave is jiggling us and jogging us. Each wave on this endless ocean is moving our spines as we sleep, for hours!

By wake time, its not that we are soar from bracing ourselves; we are soar from constantly being moved as we slumber.

Tonight we will try to wedge our bodies into the berth with pillows to minimize the movement of our sleepy selves and see if that can't help resolve this pain in the back.

Wooden Doors Not Closing

Wood on a boat is subject to a lot of dimensional changes in size as humidity and temperatures change the moisture content of the wood. Wooden doors are going to swell and shrink as the air in the boat becomes moist or dry. 

The doors in our table (where we store our linens) are rather large, so a small percentage in dimensional change will equate to some significant movement in the wood. 


These doors used to close easily, but after a rather most winter, the wood swelled slightly, but caused the doors edge to migrate a few millimeters. Now the doors overlap instead of closing. The solution will be to trim the wood at an angle to allow the latches to meet and the doors to close.


Using a block plane, I was able to slowly and carefully bevel the edge of the door to allow the edge to pass the latch and the doors to close effortlessly.


With the wood trimmed off and the doors closing easily, the fresh wood was then given a few coats of varnish to seal it up and protect it from future moisture. Varnish doesn't make wood waterproof, but it does help. Varnished wood is sealed up and fed well with the oils and resins in the varnish. This creates a barrier to keep the moisture out, or at least slow the ingress of moisture.  

With some simple hand tools, the problem of a non closing door can be fixed and cruising life can continue on without a hitch! 


Showering while Cruising

When cruising, your contact with other people will be much more limited. When you do meet people, it will also be with plenty of space between you two. This lack of contact and airy contact when it does occur makes it easy to simply not shower! 

People who live on land are used to showering at least once a day, if not more often than that. On a cruising boat, where water is brought out to the boat in 5 gallon jugs, water is not used so sparingly! This means that a daily shower would necessitate more frequent water tank fillings, which is much more work for the cruiser.  

As always, there is a simple solution to the problem! If you shower more, you need more water. If you shower less, you need less water! We have asked many cruisers and it seems that a weekly shower is the norm. If you feel dirty or smelly in a few days, you will soon go nose blind to it and more days will pass before you realize that it is already shower day again! 

When you meet people, the space between you buffers any potential offending odors. The constant breeze also helps keep the air clear of any unwanted scents that may linger around the cruiser. If someone catches a whiff of you and it is soon shower day, you will then receive the much needed slack as they remember that you live on a boat! They might think you smell a bit and figure that you haven't showered yet today, but the truth is that you haven't showered in days and you will get a free pass! 

Cruising and showering are two sides of the same coin, but the cruising side of the coin lands up much more often than the sower side of the coin. 

Blackout Curtains

Sleep hygiene is very important for good overall health. To accomplish this, you will need to get around 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at a regular time each night. You should also be in near or in total darkness during your sleep. Here lies the problem while cruising.

Cruising means that you will have to sail from one place to the next. If the winds are unfavorable, or they die down, you will take on her to get to your next anchorage. This could mean that you will miss your regular bed time, and instead, need to stay awake for many hours longer than usual as you sail into your destination.

We were sailing from Solomons Island into the St. Mary's river one day. This is a simple 18 mile sail, so it should theoretically only take us a few hours to make the trip!We left at 10am, and were moving along at around 6 knots, meaning that the whole journey should only take a bit over 3 hours. Then the winds shifted and our track was no longer going to bring us directly into the next river south. Instead, we needed to tack back and forth as the winds kept shifting and loosing intensity.

We finally arrived at our anchorage at 2am, a full 16 hours after we had left.

At this late hour, I had to drop the sails and the anchor and get ready for bed. This might not seem like that big of an ordeal, since I can simply sleep in the next day to get my full 8 hours of sleep. The problem is the sun is rising at around 6:30am, meaning I would get about 4 hours of sleep before the sun would peer in the hatch over our bed and wake me up in the morning.


Here is an unsung benefit of hank-on, tanbark headsails. They can double as black out curtains!

I draped the dark sails over the hatch and went below to sleep. When I awoke, well rested, at 11am,, the V-Berth was still a black cave, devoid of light!

Another benefit of draping a sail over the hatch is you can open the hatch under it to get some airflow through it without getting any nightly rain through the hatch as well.

Using this nifty little trick, you can get a good night sleep even after a long and tiring sail!