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Old 11-29-2009, 07:37 PM   #1
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I'm writing a book and don't know much at all about sailing. In the book, I have two families (4 adults and five children) that will sail from San Diego to Polynesia and back. What would be the best sailing vessel for them (no engine, please)? What would its length be and how fast would it go.

Then, in the book, I have a flotilla of three sailing vessels that will carry 33 passengers each from San Diego to Polynesia. What would be the length of the ideal sailing vessel be (and what type, sqare-rigger, schooner, etc.) and how fast would it go? Also, how many crew would be required (some of the passengers have sailing experience, but are not experts).

I so appreciate someone's time in answering these questions. I will send a PDF final draft of the book to whomever helps me with these answers. Thank you so much.

Kanadave
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Old 11-29-2009, 08:17 PM   #2
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Before answering your question I need to know few details:

What is period of the story. Today?

Are you thinking of modern sailing boats or antiques? It is hard to find a new sailboat today that does not have an engine.

How experienced are the two families?

Will the flotilla of three be operated by professional crew or by the "passengers"?
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Old 11-30-2009, 12:24 AM   #3
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Hi, Istioploos,

Thank you so much for replying. Yes, it takes place today. the two families would charger an advanced sailboat. OK, we can let it have an engine, but we won't use it. Is that OK? The two families are experienced sailors. The plan for the flotilla would be for each of the two experienced families (children are ages 9, 11, 14, 14, and 17) and one more experienced family to "man" the sailing ships with he help of the passengers, some of which will have some sailing experience.

Kanadave
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Old 11-30-2009, 02:42 AM   #4
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Hi there,

Welcome to Cruiserlog. I hope that you can find the info you're looking for here. I'd also suggest that, if you are seriously writing a book about a cruising experience, that you take the time to do a little cruising yourself--perhaps volunteer as crew for someone local to you. Where are you?

Also, depending on the income levels of your expected story-families, the choices of boats will be very, very different. There are numerous books out there on selecting good cruising boats that you may wish to look into--depending on how important the cruising boat is to your actual story. Also, there are numerous books (fiction and nonfiction) about sailing/cruising that you may be interested in. I can compile a short list for you if this is helpful, but I wonder if perhaps the sailing part of your book is not so important?

Good luck,
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Old 11-30-2009, 12:26 PM   #5
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OK, we can let it have an engine, but we won't use it. Is that OK?
Well, I have never used an engine, but it shows only that I am a stubborn man with very few experience.

I hate that lots of marinas make mandatory to use motor, however I fully understand them. I had the excuse that the vessel's papers were valid only temporarily and only without motor. But it happened in confined and calm waters. Not in the ocean, not even sea. The roughest weather I have ever sailed is Beaufort 6. I would not go to sea without checking that the motor indeed works. However I would do anything to avoid actually using it in a non life threatening situation.

I do like to see the face of fellas seeing I am entering the marina solely on sails while they are barely able to do the same with motor.

So nowadays going without motor is unbelieveable. You either need a stubborn skipper wanting to die, some technical failure, or lack of need to use it. To make the story believable, they have to discover engine failure after thay can do anything about it, and at least one of your characters should be occupied by trying to bring the engine back from that point on.

I am sorry to write about things I do not really have experience with. I know it is pointless and embarassing, and no one will love it. My excuse is that you plan to do the very same thing.
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Old 11-30-2009, 02:16 PM   #6
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If there is one thing which annoys me after paying good money for a novel it is to discover that the author(ess) knows little, if anything, about the environment in which (s)he places her characters. I am therefore much pleased to see that you are doing some research.

I am sure that there are many members here who will gladly and willingly share their knowledge, as they always do. I would like to include myself in that category and so here is my contribution; somewhat limited due to the restricted information we have been given.

The first issue I reacted over was the concept of carrying 33 passengers on each boat. Any vessel carrying in excess of 12 passengers is required to be classed as a passenger vessel. This means it has to be built to certain agreed standards, maintained to agreed standards, in class (i.e. certified by a classification society such as Lloyds or ABD), crewed according to international standards and insured for the proposed voyage which, provided the voyage does not reach higher latitudes than 75 degrees north or 55 degrees south and excludes war zones is a standard insurance given that all the requirements mentioned are fulfilled.

There is one legal way around this and that is to buy or charter a sail training vessel; a good example of which in the U.S. is the schooner ERNESTINA (106 ft. LOA). I am not suggesting that this vessel is for sale or available for charter but simply that such a vessel would suit the requirements as she is large enough and certainly has the range for such a voyage..

Another issue; any vessel carrying 33 passengers plus crew for such a distance will be quite a sizable ship, as indicated above. That, at least, should make it a fairly swift vessel. In reality though you can calculate with a maximum distance sailed of 150 NM per day but this will be far from an average as your vessel will be passing, in both direction, through the almost windless area known as the doldrums, an area stretching approximately 7 degrees on each side of the equator. You do not state where in Polynesia your vessels are headed but a rhumb line from San Diego to pretty much anywhere in Polynesia will have you spending a considerable time in the doldrums.

If you get back to me and tell me where your vessels are headed and at what time of year I can, using the weather charts for the Pacific and making allowances for the currents, make a reasonably good estimate as to the time such a voyage would take. I can even plot 'typical' noon positions for you along the way but to do this I will need to know the type of vessel envisaged.

The bottom line is, tell us more and we can tell you more. When you have decided on your vessel and written your draft then maybe we can check that for you too.

Finally, welcome to CruiserLog and why not do as suggested in an earlier post and get out on the water and get first-hand experience? I am sure you would love it.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 11-30-2009, 05:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redbopeep View Post
Hi there,

Welcome to Cruiserlog. I hope that you can find the info you're looking for here. I'd also suggest that, if you are seriously writing a book about a cruising experience, that you take the time to do a little cruising yourself--perhaps volunteer as crew for someone local to you. Where are you?

Also, depending on the income levels of your expected story-families, the choices of boats will be very, very different. There are numerous books out there on selecting good cruising boats that you may wish to look into--depending on how important the cruising boat is to your actual story. Also, there are numerous books (fiction and nonfiction) about sailing/cruising that you may be interested in. I can compile a short list for you if this is helpful, but I wonder if perhaps the sailing part of your book is not so important?

Good luck,
Thanks so much. It's not a book about cruising. The sailing trip to the South Pacific island is a very minor part of the story. But it is important to get things right for that portion. Money is not an object to those setting sail. But luxury is not necessary. The people just want to get to the island safely. In fact, it's not a pleasure cruise (although I suppose any sailing is pleasure cruising). They are just getting to the island.

Thanks again.

Kanadave

Quote:
Originally Posted by magwas View Post
Well, I have never used an engine, but it shows only that I am a stubborn man with very few experience.

I hate that lots of marinas make mandatory to use motor, however I fully understand them. I had the excuse that the vessel's papers were valid only temporarily and only without motor. But it happened in confined and calm waters. Not in the ocean, not even sea. The roughest weather I have ever sailed is Beaufort 6. I would not go to sea without checking that the motor indeed works. However I would do anything to avoid actually using it in a non life threatening situation.

I do like to see the face of fellas seeing I am entering the marina solely on sails while they are barely able to do the same with motor.

So nowadays going without motor is unbelieveable. You either need a stubborn skipper wanting to die, some technical failure, or lack of need to use it. To make the story believable, they have to discover engine failure after thay can do anything about it, and at least one of your characters should be occupied by trying to bring the engine back from that point on.

I am sorry to write about things I do not really have experience with. I know it is pointless and embarassing, and no one will love it. My excuse is that you plan to do the very same thing.
I'm OK with having an engine, and no problem with using it coming into or leaving Shelter Island in San Diego Bay. Other than that, though, it will be purely sails. Thanks!!
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Old 11-30-2009, 05:48 PM   #8
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Thanks for your lengthy reply. We will charter the ship so there will be no legal problems. I do not need information on an actual ship, just how long they would be (for 9 passengers and for 33 passengers) and how many crew members would be needed for the larger ship, and from the passengers with sailing experience, we would choose the crew, and how fast they would go so the details in my story make sense. We will be headed toward 15 degrees south and 115 degrees west, the top of a triangle with Pitcairn on the bottom left of the triangle and Easter Island on the bottom right. There is no island there, but that is part of the story! Should we sail around the doldrums? As I said in another post, the sailing is a minor part of the story, so I don't need a lot of details. Oh, also, sailing at various times of the year. Thanks again, for all your help.

Kanadave
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Old 11-30-2009, 07:14 PM   #9
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Quick response!

If you are going from northern to southern latitudes, i.e. crossing the equator, there is no way to sail aound the doldrums as they are a band of more-or-less windless area stretching around the globe to about 7 degrees north and south of the equator. They move slightly northwards or southwards depending upon the season but the width does not change.

To try and give a simple answer to the size of vessels is not easy as vessels vary very much but, hazarding an educated guess, for 9 people plus crew a vessel of 50 - 55 feet would be comfortable given a crew of 2 or 3 and with some of the passengers assisting.

For 33 passengers you will obviously need something much larger. I would suggest a vessel of 70 feet, probably a schooner or a large ketch, with a crew of 3 or 4 and assistance from some of the passengers.

You will get other opinions, no doubt, but there are so many variables as to make it impossible to give one correct answer.

Regarding Pitcairn, you, I suppose are well aware that Pitcairn has no harbour? That may not feature in your novel but it would be a disaster to indicate that there is one there.

If I were to recommend a book giving you a typical description of sailing from California to this area it would be Hal Roth's Two Against Cape Horn. In the book he describes how he and his wife Margaret sail to Patagonia but, because of the Humboldt current running strongly up the west coast of South America, they keep a more westerly course, almost reaching the area you mention before heading eastwards to Puerto Mont. I am sure your local library will have the book.

What many people do not seem to realise is that North America is far further west than continental South America. As a result, the course from San Diego to Easter Island is slightly east of due south. Given the position of San Diego in 32 14N and 117 14W and Easter Island in 27 07S and 109 22W the direct course would be 173 degrees and the distance 3,976 Nautical Miles. As for the duration of the voyage, well, the larger ship would normally be the faster of the two and I would expect her to make the voyage in about 28 - 35 days. The smaller vessel could do the same trip in about 35 - 50 days. Again, these are approximations as we do not know the specifics of the vessels or of the weather and currents.

In the days of sailing ships some very fast voyages were recorded and some very slow voyages were also recorded. As an example, the Cutty Sark sailed at an average of 17 knots days on end when racing to London from Foochow, her holds loaded with tea and her master determined to reach the European tea market first and get the best prices for his cargo. On the the hand, the six-masted barquentine E. R. Sterling spent 9 months sailing from Australia to England; she left Adelaide on April 16, 1927, and eventually sailed into the Thames late January, 1928. The vessel, which was built in 1883 by Messrs. Harland and Wolff, carried 6,800ft. of canvas, had a length of 308ft., a beam of 42ft., a depth of 25ft., and a tonnage of 2,577 tons. These were vessels much larger than yachts and with comparatively large crews.

There are lot of variables but the information given above should allow your story to progress pretty much along the right tracks. Good luck with it!

Aye // Stephen
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Old 11-30-2009, 10:12 PM   #10
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Hey Steven,

I think you're the one who'll give me all the answers I need.

We'll go with the 55' ship for the two families (9 total people) and figure 35-50 days for the voyage. The four parents can easily man the ship. Schooner?

For the 30 people ships, we'll go with 28-35 days on a 70' schooner.

I figured about 5,000 miles (land miloes) for the trip. I think it's less than that by your measurements. I figured about three weeks for the two families averaging 10 knots. So it's good I'm talking with you! I would like my book to be accurate even though it has very little to do with sailing.

Kanadave
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Old 12-01-2009, 10:21 AM   #11
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Hi,

A 55 ft. vessel can certainly be handled by a crew of 2 and four aditional adults. In fact, crew size depends on the size and rig of the ship. A two-masted trading schooner might have a crew of five, while a clipper ship might carry eighty to a hundred men. A four-masted schooner at the end of the nineteenth century had a crew of about eleven; a Down Easter had a crew of twenty to thirty.

So, to return to your story, the crew sizes will not be a problem.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 12-01-2009, 11:02 AM   #12
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The interactions among the passengers on both these vessels is going to be affected by the doldrums. Leaving California and sailing at a fairly quick pace for the first week or two and then hitting the doldrums can be very frustrating. From a somewhat hypnotic rhythm of movement in the first part of the trip to the dead calm for hours and sometimes days on end in the doldrums can make many people very cranky.

The boats just sit there. A little bit of rocking, a whole lot of "when are we ever going to get there?" especially from the children, usually drives the skipper to start the engine to motor through the doldrums. Looking down into the deep blue of the ocean there, and the almost looking-glass quality of it, may be hypnotic, but after a day of not moving, kids get bored.

Something to consider.
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Old 12-01-2009, 04:54 PM   #13
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This is just terrific. I'll make the doldrums a small part of their trip. Would the 50 footer be a schooner or would you recommend another kind of vessel? I think I have all the information I need now. You all have been a terrific help. As said with my first post, I would like to offer a free copy of the final draft of the book to anyone interested. Please PM me for details. This, of course, will NOT have all the new details that you all have been willing to give me. Also, I have been told that I should indent paragraphs rather than having a space between them. If anyone would like a copy of the final PDF (three more weeks?), I would be happy to send you the new password to you. Thanks again everybody, for all your help, especially to Stephen. One of these days, I think I'll go sailing!
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Old 12-01-2009, 05:30 PM   #14
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For a 50' boat, especially leaving from the US, it will more likely be a ketch, yawl, or sloop. Ketch and yawl have two masts, mainmast (forward, near center of boat, though) will be the taller, mizzenmast will be shorter. Sloop only has one mast. Used to be that people felt that a ketch or yawl - 2 masts, anyway, was the only way to go blue water sailing. Not so nowadays - there are probably more sloops than the others put together, including monstrous sloops. So take your pick.

J
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