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Old 02-23-2019, 07:36 PM   #1
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How important is a higher cruising speed?

A week or so ago there was a thread where a potential trawler buyer was asking about certain variables in trawlers. One of those had to do with cruising speeds that were higher than hull speeds. I made a pitch that at times higher speeds were nice to have.

I don't know if that poster was boating where he might have to cross a bar from time to time, that topic never came up. For those of us who may have to cross a bar or who do on a regular basis, here's a video to consider. We've all seen vids where boats were thrashed about by the waves in a bar.

In this video I think one factor in how well the skipper and boat did was that he had the power to do what he needed to do when he needed to do it. Had he been underpowered this might have been a much different video.

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Old 02-23-2019, 08:26 PM   #2
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Mike,
Running inlets (comming in) the Planing hull is generally considered preferable.
At least that’s what I thought. An outboard is excellent IMO.
If wave speeds and boat speeds are close one can even ride one wave all the way in.
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Old 02-23-2019, 08:29 PM   #3
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I agree. It is nice to have the speed to keep ahead of the rollers coming up behind you.
Second best is having a double ended or canoe transom that will limit the risk of broaching as a wave passes under you.
A slow boat with a square transom will definitely limit your access into river bars.
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Old 02-23-2019, 08:37 PM   #4
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Isn't it always an option to wait, or just not go there?

Just sayin...
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Old 02-23-2019, 08:55 PM   #5
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Isn't it always an option to wait, or just not go there?

Just sayin...
Wifey B: Sometimes waiting will subject you to even worse conditions.
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Old 02-23-2019, 09:18 PM   #6
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We're obviously proponents of greater speed for many reasons other than strictly safety. However, there are many situations in which having the ability to change speed is important to both safety and to comfort.

1. Both in and out of bars and inlets. Going in, it may allow you to surf in. At the very least may allow you to prevent being swamped. May also allow you to maintain control over your direction. Going out, it also allows you to time the waves you're heading into.

2. While cruising outside, it allows you to match speed to waves and smooth conditions. This benefits in much the same ways as going in and out of bars. Semi-displacement and planing hulls perform better at varying speeds depending on conditions.

3. Speed reduces crossing time and makes the weather window more predictable.

4. Speed eliminates the impact of current.

We learned to handle boats, our captain skills on boats with speed. We've never cruised below 12 knots (except speed zones) and rarely that slow. The slowest "fast" cruising speed of any of our boats is 20 knots. Having learned this way, we are trained and experienced in the use of the ability to vary speed. If we were to suddenly own a 6-8 knots boat, then we would need to learn some additional things and different handling skills. I suspect there would be a similar learning process for some of you if switching to faster speeds. This does point out the advantage to training on the boat you'll be using or similar.

We also find with speed we can be comfortable in conditions many of you are not. I've heard comments on staying in because of 3 or 4' waves and we don't think anything of waves that size even with relatively short periods. 4' with 2 seconds we would not enjoy. However, we can go across the tops of many waves. We have boats that at 12 knots might be uncomfortable but at 20 knots might give you a very smooth ride in some conditions.

Now, we clearly admit we prefer to get places more quickly too and we prefer running outside greatly over running in the ICW.

This is by no means saying anything critical of those of you who like going slow or have full displacement boats, just simply trying to give a bit more information on the pluses of speed.
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Old 02-23-2019, 09:24 PM   #7
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I normally cruise at about 9kts. But I have the option to go much faster if needed due to on coming weather, trying to catch up to Pairadice etc.
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Old 02-23-2019, 09:42 PM   #8
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I've heard comments on staying in because of 3 or 4' waves and we don't think anything of waves that size even with relatively short periods.

But then, what is the length of your boat? Thatís also a factor as pertains to comfort.

I like to keep my environmental foot print as low as possible. I have enough of a guilt trip as it is traveling at 4 nm/gal at 7.5 kts. I have no need for having a higher cruising speed.

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Old 02-23-2019, 10:08 PM   #9
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Here's another spot where the extra oomph was not only nice to have, it was absolutely necessary. Snake River, below Ice Harbor Dam with about an 11 kt current running. BTW, that's a red nun lying on her side.


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Old 02-23-2019, 10:18 PM   #10
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But then, what is the length of your boat? Thatís also a factor as pertains to comfort.
You are right. 44' and up.
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Old 02-23-2019, 10:19 PM   #11
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About 30 years ago we were in a SeaRay 22 cuddy cabin departing Victoria Harbor and headed towards Bellingham. Winds were steady 20 to 25 knots gusting to 30 with a flood tide. Waves large and breaking often. By constantly adjusting the throttle we were able to easily ride the swells and avoid the breaks. Speed seldom dropped below 20 knots. What a blast.
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Old 02-23-2019, 10:47 PM   #12
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...

This is by no means saying anything critical of those of you who like going slow or have full displacement boats, just simply trying to give a bit more information on the pluses of speed.
I agree with all of B&B's points above.

Traveling three times faster than Dauntless opens up a whole bunch of options that I simply don't have.

While i don't think any boat is more safe than my Kadey Krogen, that's a function of design and build, not hull type.

Though having reduced options, in my mind means that I need to be prepared and confident no matter how bad it gets.
I can't out run weather.

But I also could not afford to run three times faster.

And knowing that my goal was crossing oceans, 99% of boats were eliminated from contention from the get go.

If I was just doing coastal cruising, much like ASD, a boat that could be relatively efficient at 7 knots, but could go 16 to 18 If need be, would be nice.
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Old 02-23-2019, 11:08 PM   #13
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Having a higher cruising speed as an option has zero drawbacks for a Coastal Cruiser from a boat operation standpoint. It gives you choices. Choices you do not have if you are limited to displacement speed operation.

Here is how I use my boats ability to cruise at above displacement speeds to an advantage.

* Arrival time. With a faster cruising boat you can trade some gallons of fuel for the ability to arrive at a destination when you want to arrive there. Anybody that has ever arrived anywhere in the dark can see the value in this.

* Avoiding overnight runs. If you singlehand or cruise as a couple you probably prefer not to cruise all night long. Well, cruising at 14 knots Vs 7 knots allows you to avoid overnight voyages for almost any costal cruising scenario.

* Dealing with currents. I remember the first time I went through Seymoure Narrows in BC. Boats sat there waiting for the tide to go slack. I hit the narrows in my old boat at 26 knots and didn’t look back. Here in Alaska we have plenty of places with 3 knot tidal currents. With a SD boat you can throttle up and make it throgh those kind of places and then drop back to a nice comfortable hull speed cruise.

* Cruising in rough seas. This was mentioned earlier as far as following seas. I use the throttle to smooth out a big beam sea as well. Unless your boat has stabilizers, beam seas are much more unplesant at hull speedthan at say 11 or 12 knots. At the faster speed the aft is pushged down into the water a bit, smoothing out the rolling.

* Avoiding rough weather. That’s easy peasy at twice or more hull speed. I do not do this often, but there is a lot to be said about being able to boogie across a open area in the morning and avoiding the werather coming in that evening.

Now to the downside...

* A single engine FD boat of the same interior living space will bet better fuel economy at hull speed. How much better I do not know but I’m guessing here and will throw out 20% as a guesstimate.

* Cruising at higher speeds is not cheap, as the fuel economy goes down as speed goes up. My Bayliner 4788 gets approx. 1.75NMPG at 8 knots, 1.5NMPG at 9 knots, 1.0NMPG at 10 knots, and 0.65 NMPG at 15 knots.

* Maintaining two larger engines is no doubt more expensive than maintaining 1 smaller engine.

I’m sure others will chime in :-)
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Old 02-24-2019, 04:41 AM   #14
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Having worked that bar commercially for over 5 years in a 42ft Chriss Craft with only 2 80hp Fords in it, it would have been nice to have had an extra couple of hundred horses to play with. I would still have more hair and not as grey. My current boat would have been great, but I am in another country now. But I sure would like the economy of the old Chriss Craft .
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Old 02-24-2019, 05:57 AM   #15
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I totally agree that having speed and power are great options to have...


But they aren't necessary at all to having a cruiser that you can do just about anything in.


YOU may want to have those options.... but again....they are neither required for safety or getting the vast majority of cruising grounds.
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Old 02-24-2019, 07:25 AM   #16
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As others have inferred, the first rule is not to put you and your boat in situations you are not suited for. Or as Lieutenant Callahan said, "A man's got to know his limitations".

I'm definitely in the camp of liking the option of extra speed, but the extra speed can be dangerous in the wrong hands as well. To name just one example, take the ebb-against-swell situation at in an inlet. There's the danger of applying too much throttle, or having the trim tabs down or both, which will lead to Bad Things. Best plan regardless of what craft you are in? Wait for slack by timing your voyage appropriately.
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Old 02-24-2019, 08:18 AM   #17
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As someone who keeps his boat behind one of the more "energetic" bars on the east coast (Merrimack River) I can attest that having enough speed to ride the backside of a wave when coming in is definitely the safest way (other than waiting for the tide to turn) when the bar gets bad. And it gets bad very regularly - when the outgoing tide is against the swells. I've seen a lot of much slower boats get absolutely beaten up trying to get in - most commonly sail boats. Going out against it is more of keeping the bow up - not speed. I'm fortunate to have just enough power to usually be able to ride the backside of a wave in.

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Old 02-24-2019, 09:25 AM   #18
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"I've seen a lot of much slower boats get absolutely beaten up trying to get in - most commonly sail boats."


No one desires to "get beaten up" simply running an inlet , but is a few min of a rotten ride worth the expenses and hassle of a 200% or 300% larger engine?
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Old 02-24-2019, 09:50 AM   #19
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Having a higher cruising speed as an option has zero drawbacks for a Coastal Cruiser from a boat operation standpoint. It gives you choices. Choices you do not have if you are limited to displacement speed operation.
I couldn't agree more! I had a small SD boat for 8 years that went 10 knots, balls out, and enjoyed every minute of it. It was a single engine and was cruised at 8.4 knots. it really limited me from running 50 miles+ offshore as the weather windows, (small seas) don't last that long. (example I love going to Avalon for a few days and taking less than 5 hours to get there. In my boat at 15 knots I can do just that. Having extra power & speed comes in handy at times.
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Old 02-24-2019, 10:06 AM   #20
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I couldn't agree more! I had a small SD boat for 8 years that went 10 knots, balls out, and enjoyed every minute of it. It was a single engine and was cruised at 8.4 knots. it really limited me from running 50 miles+ offshore as the weather windows, (small seas) don't last that long. (example I love going to Avalon for a few days and taking less than 5 hours to get there. In my boat at 15 knots I can do just that. Having extra power & speed comes in handy at times.
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