Bobb Brann of Menifee, CA, asks:

The unexpected lay over due to bad weather has me wondering: we all try to avoid big seas when we can and being that there is some distance between safety & comfort, my question is this - how big of a swell do the designers think the boat could safely handle? And with full stabilizers (fish & fins) what would the cut-off be for comfort, for safety? Stay safe and Merry Christmas.

Jim Leishman responds:

No one likes bad weather. The more experience you have the less you like it. I think the Nordhavn 40 could survive a significant blow - probably 60 - 70 knots or more - but we'd do everything we could to avoid it. During deliveries up the coast from Dana Point to Seattle, we have put to sea with small craft advisories posted and found ourselves on many occasions in posted gale conditions. We'd have to look at the forecast, think about accessibility of refuge ports, whether dangerous bar conditions might exist, and if that all looks positive then a gale should present no real problems other than discomfort and rattled nerves. Beyond gale conditions (storm conditions where winds are in excess of 50 knots), particularly if the wind is sustained and there's significant fetch for the seas to build, then you'd have to be very careful with the direction and speed of the boat relative to the wave patterns. Depending upon the sea state, a decision to turn the boat into the wind with minimum speed might be the best tactic in extreme conditions.

I remember the article written by a well-known author about virtual survival conditions running into Panama from the Caribbean side with strong easterly tradewinds - pushing his 46 foot twin engine semi-displacement trawler to the limit of his endurance. The vessel had to be hand steered by its experienced captain from the flybridge to avoid broaching in the steep following seas and wound up suffering some minor damage. I learned later from the owner of a full displacement 54-foot trawler running the same direction - in the same wind and sea conditions and within VHF range of the troubled boat - that the conditions were rough but not particularly unusual for the region. His boat steered through the day and night on autopilot - with no heroics necessary, no distress nor damage.

The point is that the boat can make a huge difference in your perception of the conditions.


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