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What Force is your limit ?

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    Just out of interest in your Nauticat what is the highest force wind that you would take your Nauticat out in ?

    What would it be in open water, in a sheltered area such as the Solent, and would wind against tide modify that force to ?

    I’ve been looking at the forefasts this weekend for the South Coast and there is a bit of variation going on. I’m thinking about taking the boat from Brighton to Chichester on Sunday.



    Bob Van der Winden

    We sail (my wife and I, double handed) in the Netherlands, mainly on the IJsselmeer and Waddenzee, so it’s all relatively sheltered except some points near the Islands in the Waddenzee.
    Our experience is that it works relatively smooth up to including force 5, taking the normal precautions (reducing sail etc.). With a more downwind course we regularly sailed with Force 6, although we are then looking for shelter after a few hours, since it is not very smooth anymore on these big lakes…
    We stay in the harbor with 7 or more, and we don’t try for instance the Stortemelk next to Vlieland with 5 or more.
    But I must admit we’re relatively cautious of course…
    Warm regards from the Netherlands!


    I wonder if many would go out in anything more than max 6 or 7, but having well ridden out at least a force 9, I feel comfortable the boat can handle it at least. Not very pleasant, though…


    It depends on wind direction and tide direction, swell and fetch. Also what speed you want to make good and how much sail you wish to carry or if you are just motoring or motor sailing. How many crew you have on board and their experience. Condition size and age of your Nauticat, on board equipment, standing and running gear is also a factor for consideration. I don’t wish to be sarcastic but this is not really the sort of question you should be asking of others. To be safe you should decide the limits based upon your own knowledge and experience etc. and if you have doubts about the passage and unsure about the forecasts don’t go. Wait until you are happy with more settled conditions.


    Looking at Sunday’s forecast there will probably be F6 winds during the day and maybe increasing in the evening. They are from S or SW.
    My main concern would be entering Chi Harbour in a strong S wind because it is not recommended. Depending on the tide state it could be pretty bad.

    I have sailed my boat in F7 winds for long periods but mainly on a reach and certainly not close hauled and definitely not in wind over tide.


    Take the point George, but the reason for asking was to see whether I was unduly risk adverse compared to others. For the relatively long, uninteresting passage, wind against tide this weekend down to the Solent I was thinking a 4-5. The week started with a good forecast, but needless to say F6 gusting F8 has appeared in Sunday’s.

    In the Solent depending on where I was going 5-6, given that the fetch is so much less.

    I have sailed in 8-9 off Gibraltar which was great fun, and with low wave heights.

    For me sun out or raining also makes a big difference….

    Looks like Sunday will be a pub day.




    The English Channel can be an unforgiving place and there is some good advice above. This weekend you have F6 to F7 forecast with quite big tides, so it will be very rough especially with wind over tide. I don’t doubt for a moment that your boat, if in good condition, could deal with it. We have sailed in F9 in open ocean and more often then we would care for F8 but it is the close quarter handling on this occasion that would probably keep us ashore. It is one thing to be caught out in that kind of rough weather but another thing to go out into it.


    Posted on behalf of replied 10 minutes ago

    As a rule of thumb, I always considered F6 the upper limit of going out, based on it could go up one or down. More recently I wanted to know what it would be like to experience a 7-8 or 9, so I enlisted with Adventures Offshore and made several passages across the North sea to Germany and Norway with experienced skippers in 50ft Oyster Ketches. In a F7 upwards, the passage is physically tiring, mentally draining, seasick inspiring, anxiety inducing, and I was always glad to see our destination. Sailing is for fun, getting there is by plane, car or ferry. If I was going to Chichester on Sunday26th, I’d leave Brighton about 10.30am to get the best tide and motor sail from the Owers.

    Duncan Malcolm

    I think your point on shelter covers it perfectly. If you’re on a south shore e.g. northern France with a southerly F8 you could have quite calm seas.

    Equally in the Stockholm archipelago I’ve been out in F8 and it’s like sailing on a pond other than the reefs generally fairly comfortable.

    Flip side I’ve been out in F3/4 where the seas have still had big swell that’s more unpleasant than all of the above…

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