Originally Posted by Tonearm
I had a problem similar to this, sailing from Marina Del Rey to Santa Cruz Island, we were sailing into a strong current of Point Dume. Wind was 14 to 15 knots. Speed over the bottom was zilch. Steering was very difficult due
to little to no way. Turned on engine to overcome effect of the current. When speed over the ground increased
so did steering.
hmm... that doesn't really make sense... steerage has to do with water moving over the rudder, not the boat moving over the ground... if you have a strong head current and can't make way you will still have good steerage because you are getting plenty of water under the boat... ...
now if the boat is being carried by the current you may loose steerage because the boat is only going as fast as the water and not getting water across the rudder... ... which is where changing course when a strong current is on the nose gets dangerous... if you turn away from the current you may not be able to point her back up into it if you can't get up the speed to get water over the rudder.
In a light breeze if the current is with you what Edsailing is talking about may happen... maybe something hung up on the skeg (lobster pot or such, a float just under the waterline would also likely cause the turbulence he mentioned and possibly enable the obstruction to hang up where a normal line or something might not) and was acting as a sea anchor countering the wind enough that you lost some speed and in so doing you also lost steering because you weren't getting water over the rudder to give steerage to bring your nose up against the current, but could gybe since the wind and sea were both behind you and that required a less radical shift of the boat in relation to the water as it was carried along.