Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Among those who follow us on this blog, there may be some who are not
completely familiar with the specifities of sailing (as opposed to
A sailboat using the wind for its propulsion cannot, by definition, sail
directly into the wind. It has to offer alternatively one side and then
the other side to the wind to progress in a kind of zigzag..
Top notch racing boats can sail as close as 45 degrees to the actual
wind. That would be the equivalent of sailing the 2 sides of a square
rather than taking the diagonal. That means that the distance covered
by the boat would be 30 % greater than the direct course. A boat
sailing at 5 knots, i.e. doing 120 miles per day, would close on its
destination by only 85 nautical miles. And these are high performance
racing boats.
A cruising boat is designed more with comfort and safety in mind and
they generally don't do that well agains the wind. They have less keel
anchoring them in the water, they are heavier and they have normally
less power available through their sails.
In the case of Papy Jovial, if we were in calm water and with a nice 10
to 15 knots breeze, we would sail approximately 65 degrees to the wind
and we would have to increase our distance by 45 %. Instead of the 120
nautical miles through the water, we would close in on our destination
by only 66 nautical miles.
But with rough seas and stronger winds, it is likely that the angle
woud become 70 or even 75 degrees. Then the 120 miles become 45 miles or
In that situation, the name of the game is patience and good rum on board.
And we will be tacking probably for the rest of the week.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Need to open the Calvados.