Trade winds and sailing routes

vodkafan
16th April 2015, 23:59
Hi guys thanks for all the help I received with my strange landlubber questions last time. Here I am again with another .
I want to know if I wanted to SAIL from a south coast UK port to Cape Verde could I sail straight there? Or would I have to go out West to the Azores and then turn East because of the trade winds?
Or could I go via the Canaries?

This is probably common knowledge to all wind sailors and I don't want to make a silly mistake in my story.

Cisco
17th April 2015, 00:50
Never done it myself undersail , however I would suggest directo down past the Canaries.
I've known quite a few who have done that passage and they have never mentioned the Azores.
A major issue would be that you would sail into the 'Azores High' which is 'not a good thing'.
Watch this for a week or two to see what is going on. http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/1000hPa/orthographic=330.63,28.76,614

Also..
Going S to Madeira, Canaries or Cape Verdes will benefit from the northerlies off the W Iberian coast , subsequent north easterlies along the NW African coast, and generally favourable current. For powered craft the longest leg will be 400M from the coast out to Madeira.

That is from here.... http://www.rccpf.org.uk/ppgs/uk_routes/route_9.pdf

vodkafan
17th April 2015, 01:10
Cisco, thank you. That was great information. I didn't understand everything on the RCC document but I will keep reading till I get it. The map is awesome.

reefrat
17th April 2015, 01:47
Admiralty publication, "Ocean Passages of the World" distils centuries of sailing ship knowledge of winds and best courses to sail. Very expensive if you are not using it, but browsing in a nautical bookshop is one way to check it out, sometimes available of ebay or similar sites.

reefrat
17th April 2015, 02:14
Here is a copy of Ocean passages,, you have to scroll half way through till you get to the Sailing ship section,, where you will find at 9.07.01 that you make towards the west to avoid the Bay of Biscay and then head direct to the Cape Verdes, in summer of course.

http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=4&ved=0CDIQFjAD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sekstant.pl%2Fdocs%2FBA136.pd f&ei=I1gwVdzQCKPHmwW9yYEI&usg=AFQjCNGtsOW0aw6pqFTv_7HodT7zefyifw&bvm=bv.91071109,d.dGY&cad=rja

Cisco
17th April 2015, 09:10
An excellent resource but, especially in the higher latitudes, more focused on square riggers which could, in this instance, end up embayed in Biscay... modern yachts given a good weather window still make a decent offing but tend not to stand too far west.

Hugh Ferguson
17th April 2015, 13:15
This attachment maybe of interest to a descendant of Commander W.A.J. Welsh B.I.S.N. who parted with it in Calcutta, 26th July 1944.
It weighs over 6lbs!!

vodkafan
17th April 2015, 22:33
Thanks reefrat and Hugh. Great info!
I have come across something I need to get straight in my head first of all!
When you say, for example a "North-Westerly wind". Does that mean that the wind is blowing in the direction of the NW or does it mean that it COMES FROM NW, so is in fact blowing in the direction SE?

Cisco
17th April 2015, 23:38
With wind it is always where it is coming from....

Cisco
17th April 2015, 23:40
This attachment maybe of interest to a descendant of Commander W.A.J. Welsh B.I.S.N. who parted with it in Calcutta, 26th July 1944.
It weighs over 6lbs!!

I think those old editions have far more comprehensive sailing ship routes than the present ones... but that may be faulty memory on my part.

vodkafan
18th April 2015, 01:00
With wind it is always where it is coming from....

So, this is where I need some basic knowledge ....if you are lucky the wind is always going in the direction you want. But, I suspect, you must as often as not deviate slightly from the wind direction . I am guessing there must be methods to adjust the sails to do this (within limits), depending on your sailplan and rig of course. The vessel I have in mind is a hermaphrodite brig , with a square rigged foremast and gaff rigged mainmast to get the best of both types... but how do these work together ? I dimly sense that the fore-and aft mainsail must have more effect on steering and stability than the square rig sails, which will just fill and take the boat in the direction the wind wants to go...
Also what is the procedure when a squall hits? Do all sails have to be taken down ASAP for safety till the storm is passed? That's what seems to happen in films..

stein
18th April 2015, 07:19
My copy of the Norwegian manual “Routes and Distances,” 1910 edition will seemingly get you anywhere, in sail or steam, but the Cap Verdes (What do you want to go there for? It might be mentioned that the last trading square-rigger under British flag ended up rather embarrassingly on the rock-strewn coast of the cap Verdes. So why not go round it, the islanders may still tell stories of the lack of seamanship shown then. ).

But down Channel heading for Cape of Good Hope you ought to make westing, even with a good wind, so as not to be forced into the Bay of Biscay by the predominantly western winds. From 19° or 12° or as soon the wind allows, a course is set for Madeira, that in winter should be passed on the Westside, as the west wind winter storms in November, December and January can be blustery and create sharp waves in the lee of the island. One ought to go west of, and with good distance, of the Cap Verdes and cross the equator at about 23° W. in August and not west of 29° in November and December.

Coming out of the NO-Passat, then in the passage across the doldrums one should sail close-hauled and well filled – one does not gain anything by pining her on long distances, it is better to make speed and get her through the doldrums as fast as possible. As one gets southwards, the wind will haul round towards the East. Nearing St. Paul’s one should show caution, it is deep near up and it can only be seen at around 8 kilometres in clear weather. When one is out of the SE-Passat, that is South of a line from Cape Good hope to Trinidad one will get fresh but instable winds. One should set a course S.E-along and cross about 22° W on 30° S and Greenwich Meridian on 35° to 37.° One should stick to those latitudes until one has The Cape in NE and then aim directly for the Cape.

Setting course for the Cape as one has it NE, one must expect to meet all winds from NW to SE. If one is heading for Simon’s Bay then it is in summertime preferable to steer towards Cape Hanklip (Eastside of False Bay), as there is a strong current across the entrance.

Vessels rounding the Cape follows the great circle, not above it; cross 20° E on 39 to 40° S, a bit more South in January.

And btw, a fore-n-aft rig will get you higher up in the wind, but as the boom and gaff will have to clear the mast behind, the sails must by necessity keep within a rather limited total area. And as for reducing sail, not to mention setting them, then the fore-n-after - if it is a real ship - suddenly has gigantic sails. The multimastet American schooners could not be worked without their steam winches. I believe the Thomas Lawson lost seven sets of sails on a passage acoss the Atlantic.

In a sudden squall smaller boats could just let go the peak halliards, making the vessel bermuda rigged so to say, and on loose footed gaff sails (The Americans tend to lace them to the boom) the tack could be loosened and be hauled upwards, the sails folding in the fore-end leaving a triangular opening.

A clipper would luff up; under some danger of being taken aback, as in paying off a sharp ship would be stuck with the full force abeam longer than a short beamy vessel, and this with the yards unmovable on the masts. (Reminds me of boxing: the safest thing is to move inside Cuban left hooks, not to bend backwards away from them.) The ways of reducing sails under different circumstances for a square-rigger are many though... But, no a sailing ship would preferably keep some sail on under all circumstances, the lower topsails the last to go before the only concern was to keep her bow to the sea, and then as a last resort a mat or something would be put inthe after rigging.

Related to this, a hundred years before the clippers and more, it was common to remove all sail in a storm and "lie-a-hull," and if you look at the hull-shapes then you will find why this was possible. There was enough wind resistance in the afterend deliberately put there to make the ships lie bow to the wind.

vodkafan
18th April 2015, 11:27
Hi Stein thanks. My characters need to go to Cape Verde for the purposes of the story; at 9 knots it's a 12 day journey which is also not too long to get boring to the reader but allows a bit of time for interaction and character development.
I am worried about these Westerly winds when I come out of the English Channel; how did 19th century sailors avoid them and manage to sail West at all against the wind?
I am looking at the real time map that Cisco gave me right now and the Westerly winds are blowing right up the channel, now that circular thingy of a couple of days ago has disappeared. The northerly winds that run nicely down the West coast of Africa don't seem to start until the bottom of Portugal. I am getting the general gist of having to head out west first but as I said, how is that possible against the strong West winds?

Hugh Ferguson
18th April 2015, 12:04
My copy of the Norwegian manual “Routes and Distances,” 1910 edition will seemingly get you anywhere, in sail or steam, but the Cap Verdes (What do you want to go there for? It might be mentioned that the last trading square-rigger under British flag ended up rather embarrassingly on the rock-strewn coast of the cap Verdes. So why not go round it, the islanders may still tell stories of the lack of seamanship shown then. ).

But down Channel heading for Cape of Good Hope you ought to make westing, even with a good wind, so as not to be forced into the Bay of Biscay by the predominantly western winds. From 19° or 12° or as soon the wind allows, a course is set for Madeira, that in winter should be passed on the Westside, as the west wind winter storms in November, December and January can be blustery and create sharp waves in the lee of the island. One ought to go west of, and with good distance, of the Cap Verdes and cross the equator at about 23° W. in August and not west of 29° in November and December.

Coming out of the NO-Passat, then in the passage across the doldrums one should sail close-hauled and well filled – one does not gain anything by pining her on long distances, it is better to make speed and get her through the doldrums as fast as possible. As one gets southwards, the wind will haul round towards the East. Nearing St. Paul’s one should show caution, it is deep near up and it can only be seen at around 8 kilometres in clear weather. When one is out of the SE-Passat, that is South of a line from Cape Good hope to Trinidad one will get fresh but instable winds. One should set a course S.E-along and cross about 22° W on 30° S and Greenwich Meridian on 35° to 37.° One should stick to those latitudes until one has The Cape in NE and then aim directly for the Cape.

Setting course for the Cape as one has it NE, one must expect to meet all winds from NW to SE. If one is heading for Simon’s Bay then it is in summertime preferable to steer towards Cape Hanklip (Eastside of False Bay), as there is a strong current across the entrance.

Vessels rounding the Cape follows the great circle, not above it; cross 20° E on 39 to 40° S, a bit more South in January.

And btw, a fore-n-aft rig will get you higher up in the wind, but as the boom and gaff will have to clear the mast behind, the sails must by necessity keep within a rather limited total area. And as for reducing sail, not to mention setting them, then the fore-n-after - if it is a real ship - suddenly has gigantic sails. The multimastet American schooners could not be worked without their steam winches. I believe the Thomas Lawson lost seven sets of sails on a passage acoss the Atlantic.

In a sudden squall smaller boats could just let go the peak halliards, making the vessel bermuda rigged so to say, and on loose footed gaff sails (The Americans tend to lace them to the boom) the tack could be loosened and be hauled upwards, the sails folding in the fore-end leaving a triangular opening.

A clipper would luff up; under some danger of being taken aback, as in paying off a sharp ship would be stuck with the full force abeam longer than a short beamy vessel, and this with the yards unmovable on the masts. (Reminds me of boxing: the safest thing is to move inside Cuban left hooks, not to bend backwards away from them.) The ways of reducing sails under different circumstances for a square-rigger are many though... But, no a sailing ship would preferably keep some sail on under all circumstances, the lower topsails the last to go before the only concern was to keep her bow to the sea, and then as a last resort a mat or something would be put inthe after rigging.

Related to this, a hundred years before the clippers and more, it was common to remove all sail in a storm and "lie-a-hull," and if you look at the hull-shapes then you will find why this was possible. There was enough wind resistance in the afterend deliberately put there to make the ships lie bow to the wind.

Garthpool caught "all aback" Stan Hugill, whom I knew well, was in her when she was wrecked.

stein
18th April 2015, 17:09
Garthpool caught "all aback" Stan Hugill, whom I knew well, was in her when she was wrecked.

According to Alex A. Hurst, a square-rigger going south had absolutely no business to be where the Garthpool was wrecked. Rumours had it that Captain Thomson was giving the passengers on-board a photo opportunity. On November 11th 1929 she found herself very close to Bonavista Island in the Cap Verdes; they saw a steamer ahead and supposed she was bound the same way, although she had no lights and they were gaining on her fast. Two plus two here gives you steamer aground, but no one reacted until breakers ahead were reported, at which point it was too late and she struck the outer head of East Sand Head, Bonavista Island. Afraid of the masts coming down, the crew took to the boats. The masts did not come down, but the natives got aboard and stripped the ship of everything that could be pried loose.

Hurst made some research into the career of Captain David Thomson, which he published in the Swedish magazine “Longitude” no. 30. It was not flattering. His first ships he took over from his father, which might have been an easy and undeserving entrance into the captaining of sailing ships. While in Garthpool his reckoning once placed them off the Horn, when the Falklands appeared ahead. His main interest seems not have been navigation, but rather cheating his sailors out money, food, fresh rope and whatever else he could think of.

That she was the last British square-rigger was only half true though, inasmuch as she was registered in Montreal. If she had been registered in UK, says Hurst, there would have been a proper investigation into what she was doing in the position where she was lost.

stein
18th April 2015, 17:40
Hi Stein thanks. My characters need to go to Cape Verde for the purposes of the story; at 9 knots it's a 12 day journey which is also not too long to get boring to the reader but allows a bit of time for interaction and character development.
I am worried about these Westerly winds when I come out of the English Channel; how did 19th century sailors avoid them and manage to sail West at all against the wind?
I am looking at the real time map that Cisco gave me right now and the Westerly winds are blowing right up the channel, now that circular thingy of a couple of days ago has disappeared. The northerly winds that run nicely down the West coast of Africa don't seem to start until the bottom of Portugal. I am getting the general gist of having to head out west first but as I said, how is that possible against the strong West winds?

Sailing a square-rigger is a somewhat complicated art, but a good introduction can be found here in these three consecutive YouTube videos.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6DZIvMZWzQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlRbcTsm2rc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3jU9Xz_GHE

vodkafan
18th April 2015, 21:15
Thanks Stein! I never realised that square rigged sails could actually rotate around the mast somewhat ! I thought they were completely fixed athwart the mast. How ingenious!