Heavier displacement = safer in storms?

ysignal

Member
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You should also keep in mind that you'll probably be dead by the time many of those boats get anywhere, let alone half way around the world.

As an aside if you can't afford to buy a CO32 you're not going to be able to fit anything out for that trip. The difference in purchase cost will be a rounding error against the other costs.

Oh, and tits 
I can get a Vega in good condition with a lot of what I need for less than half the price of the cheapest co32 that I can find. Spending less on the boat will mean I have more money to kit it out. I can then save money for the trip as I learn to sail it over summer or for longer if need be. I will be living on the boat so wont have rent to pay. Saving will be much easier once I actually have the boat.

The Vega is proven in a variety of conditions. My question was simply whether there may be a better if less famous option if I was thinking specifically about heavy seas.

Seems another advantage of the Vega is that it's quite an easy choice to defend...

 
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Panoramix

Super Anarchist
Hi all, 

I'm planning on buying a small sailboat early next year with the intention of sailing from the UK to Patagonia in autumn.

I've been comparing boats on sailboatlab and it all seems to suggest that heavier displacement boats such as the Marcon Cutlass and Nicholson 26 are better blue water boats and are less likely to capsize. It actually says that the lighter Vega is more suited to coastal cruising. In terms of displacement, the boats I'm looking at have the Nicholson at the heavy end and the Vega at the light end. From videos I've seen it seems the real danger comes from being hit sideways on by a breaking wave. It seems logical that having more boat under the water would be helpful in this situation as its only the above water part that gets hit by the breaker. Yet the Vega has such a great reputation as a go anywhere cruiser... I understand that heavier boats are more comfortable in heavy seas because they move less and so imagine this would also be true at the extreme end and less movement would equal less capsize and less broken mast?
This idea that a heavier boat is safer is very common in the anglophone cruisers world but I don't think that there is real evidence to back it up. If I were to take a small boat in big seas, I would make sure that it is bullet proof, watertight and self-righting as you know that sooner or later the boat will be knocked down. As for weight, I would build it (or get it) as light as possible without compromising strength as speed is a real safety asset and make sure that weight is as low as possible.

If you show them this, lot of "old salts" who think that heavier is better will tell you that it is a death trap, but that would be my choice of a small boat for high latitudes :

  • lot of righting moment
  • built like a tank
  • watertight
  • fairly light
  • good shelter for the crew.

dd82bcb00c2af3a9aa88cb5d66e1fd5d.jpg


In your list the Vega is clearly the best...

 

Zonker

Super Anarchist
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Yes, making the boat as bulletproof as possible is wise when it's a small boat. And I agree with Panoramix's thoughts - heavy displacement is a very English/American mind set. I blame Eric Hiscock and then L&L Pardey for their books!

Tania Aebi did a typical trade wind circumnavigation via both canals so not quite as demanding as what ysignal is proposing.

It sort of sounds that you are new to sailing as you say "learn to sail it over the summer".

If you are, then heading to Patagonia when you have just learned to sail is somewhat akin to a local hiker saying "I'll get in shape over the winter, then head to Nepal for a crack as K2 in the summer climbing season". 

If you're an experienced sailor, then my apologies.  But if not, then frankly you need a bit more experience than a summer sailing.

 

Raz'r

Super Anarchist
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I've got no recommendations on boats for the job, it's outside my experience. Probably a slow sailor, I suppose that's ok.

I'd suggest if you want high latitude, you stick around where you already are. Check out the heavy weather sailing videos of this guy, doing stuff in your general area: 




 

ysignal

Member
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13
Well I guess this means I'll be able to prepare myself well here. I am new to sailing, however I intend to sail a lot over summer, so while it will only be a summers sailing, if measured in hours it would compare well to people who've been sailing occasionally for years. The route I plan is from UK to the Canaries, then to Uruguay and then Falklands. I could spend time at any of these destinations gaining further experience, may make detours etc. By the time I get the Beagle Canal I'll certainly have more than a summer of experience.

 
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Bristol-Cruiser

Super Anarchist
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I guess the Shetlands would be a better training ground then given their closer proximity to me. Once I'm comfortable there I can set off with more confidence. It's interesting that you mention the Vertue as that keeps coming up on the searches I'm doing on sailboatlab.

That's the impression I have of the Vega. It has circumnavigated the Americas and sailed to Antarctica. I was actually dead set on one until I started searching on sailboatlab and found it rated as more prone to capsize than heavier boats like the Cutlass.
We saw more Vegas during our circumnavigation than all of the other boats you mentioned combined, which was easy since we saw zero of the others and 4 or 5 Vegas. It would be my choice of a small boat but I would save my pennies and go for something 32 to 35 feet.

 

ysignal

Member
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13
We saw more Vegas during our circumnavigation than all of the other boats you mentioned combined, which was easy since we saw zero of the others and 4 or 5 Vegas. It would be my choice of a small boat but I would save my pennies and go for something 32 to 35 feet.
More Vegas were made than the others combined so that may be why. But I think I'll go for the Vega.

My plan after Patagonia is to explore the Pacific. I'll certainly spend a lot of time in Japan as I lived there for a while and loved it and speak Japanese reasonably. I'll also visit New Zealand and Australia.  I'll certainly take advantage of the high latitude sailing opportunities around Scotland, and now I think of it it makes sense for me to relocate to Scotland next summer. But I'm not going to stick around here once I have the experience to go further. 

 

SloopJonB

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The "capsize risk" calculation has only 2 inputs: beam and displacement. That's a very simplified model. I think making a boat buying decision on that basis is flawed.


"How is capsize ratio calculated?
 
The capsize screening value for any boat is found by dividing the cube root of the boat's displacement volume into its maximum beam (Bmax). The higher the resulting number is than a value of 2.0, the greater the chance that the boat will be unduly prone to capsize; if it is below 2.0, it should be safe offshore"
I recall an old rule of thumb that it took a wave twice the boats length to be a capsize risk.

 

SloopJonB

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 I'll certainly take advantage of the high latitude sailing opportunities around Scotland, and now I think of it it makes sense for me to relocate to Scotland next summer. But I'm not going to stick around here once I have the experience to go further. 
How about sailing across Biscay a few times in winter?

 

Howler

Member
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"How is capsize ratio calculated?
 
The capsize screening value for any boat is found by dividing the cube root of the boat's displacement volume into its maximum beam (Bmax). The higher the resulting number is than a value of 2.0, the greater the chance that the boat will be unduly prone to capsize; if it is below 2.0, it should be safe offshore"
Speaking as someone with a bit of mathematical background, I find that particular wording (which appears in a number of places) almost impossible to parse.

The CSF formula is Bmax divided by the cube root of displacement volume,  i.e., bmax / vol^1/3

 

Bristol-Cruiser

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More Vegas were made than the others combined so that may be why. But I think I'll go for the Vega.

My plan after Patagonia is to explore the Pacific. I'll certainly spend a lot of time in Japan as I lived there for a while and loved it and speak Japanese reasonably. I'll also visit New Zealand and Australia.  I'll certainly take advantage of the high latitude sailing opportunities around Scotland, and now I think of it it makes sense for me to relocate to Scotland next summer. But I'm not going to stick around here once I have the experience to go further. 
Get yourself a copy of Jimmy Cornell's book, World Cruising Routes. Often a straight line is not the best way to get from A to B. Cornell has summarized data from pilot charts (available online) and cruising logs to suggest how best to get from A to B and when to do it - and very importantly when not to. I notice it is now in its eighth edition, a used earlier edition would meet your needs.

https://cornellsailing.com/publications/world-cruising-routes/

 

ysignal

Member
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More like test your survival instinct.
It would depend on the weather though right? I mean one would ordinarily look for weather windows. So if I were successful at that I wouldn't have a hard time. Though if I were successful at that all the time I'd never get any experience in heavy conditions. I'd far rather learn from a knockdown off the coast of Scotland than in the middle of the Pacific.. 

 

Zonker

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I recall an old rule of thumb that it took a wave twice the boats length to be a capsize risk
Lots smaller I'm afraid. According the Wolfson Unit (Univ of Southhampton) that did a study, for a good chance (30% LOA) and near certainty at 60% of LOA. So a 8' wave might while a 16' breaking wave WILL capsize a 26' boat pretty consistently.  

Andy Claughton summarized it in the newest edition of Heavy Weather Sailing (Peter Bruce):

image.png

 

ysignal

Member
80
13
Get yourself a copy of Jimmy Cornell's book, World Cruising Routes. Often a straight line is not the best way to get from A to B. Cornell has summarized data from pilot charts (available online) and cruising logs to suggest how best to get from A to B and when to do it - and very importantly when not to. I notice it is now in its eighth edition, a used earlier edition would meet your needs.

https://cornellsailing.com/publications/world-cruising-routes/
Ahh I've had this recommended before. I'll certainly get a copy.

 

Panoramix

Super Anarchist
It would depend on the weather though right? I mean one would ordinarily look for weather windows. So if I were successful at that I wouldn't have a hard time. Though if I were successful at that all the time I'd never get any experience in heavy conditions. I'd far rather learn from a knockdown off the coast of Scotland than in the middle of the Pacific.. 
October to March is the worst time to cross the bay of Biscay....

The bay of Biscay creates weird waves that are disorganised and steep, not the best place to learn, if I were you I would cross in August then enjoy life in Portugal whil hurricane season come to an end.

Lot of sailing around the UK in all wind conditions while prepping the boat is a better way to get ready. The boat has to be extremely ready, whenever you have a doubt that something might be wrong, you need to put it right!

 
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