# NavList:

## A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding

**Re: Course to steer at a given speed.**

**From:**Andrew Seligman

**Date:**2012 Nov 28, 15:18 -0500

Here is a simple way to determine leeway:

Place a protractor on the centerline gunwale of the boat's transom. As you are sailing measure the angle between the center of the protractor (0 degrees) and the wake behind the sailboat. This is a good measurement of leeway angle. Leeway is usually in the range of 1-10 degrees, depending on the boats point of sail, hull configuration, wind speed, and speed through the water. The closer one sails to the wind, the greater the leeway angle.

Andrew F. Seligman

Andrew F. Seligman

USCG Licensed Master

ASA Sailing Instructor

(215)514-6724

Ah, but how does one "calculate leeway" to adjust course? Every single text I've seen, from Bowditch to something like Sweet's "Weekend Navigator" all assume you know that leeway will be and then simply tell you to subtract or add it to course steered to get CMG (or vice versa). Leeway depends on one's point of sail -- maximum when close-hauled, non-existent when going downwind. More important, it also depends on the boat's underwater configuration. Sailboats are supposed to go straight ahead and not sideways, so I suspect this has been an issue for naval architects ever since they started doing scientific design of boats.

As a
long-time navigation instructor, I've always found current calculations a bit like a solution searching for a problem. While potentially appropriate while well offshore, in coastal waters current will shift with the tide. So if I do the standard calculation for set and drift based on the difference between my DR and Fix, how is that relevant except as determining an average value over the exact period of time and tidal conditions for the calculation? If I'm trying to determine course-to-steer (Track) as in Sean's problem, how do I know what value to use for Drift (speed of current) when it's changing minute-by-minute over a current cycle?

Let me make it clear that, as someone with a graduate degree in engineering, vector math (which current calculations are) do not intimidate me, they were part of my education from my freshman year onward. So my comments above are absolutely not because I can't do the problems, it's just that magic number called Drift that's the problem. And its cousin Leeway.

Lu

From:Andrew Seligman <captandrew@comcast.net>

To:"NavList@fer3.com" <NavList@fer3.com>Cc:"NavList@fer3.com" <NavList@fer3.com>

Sent:Wednesday, November 28, 2012 8:18 AM

Subject:[NavList] Re: Course to steer at a given speed.

You need to determine Speed Through the Water to obtain a Course Made Good; You also have to calculate Leeway and compensate for it. If the sailboat is on a Starboard Tack, then you Add the Leeway Angle to the boats heading; Conversely, if the sailboat is on a Port Tack, you subtract the Leeway Angle from the boats heading.

Andrew F. SeligmanUSCG Licensed MasterASA Sailing Instructor(215)514-6724Sean,Sailboats do not have the luxury of scheduling :( If you have a sloop then you can point 30* off the apparent wind which complicates making a mark, waypoint, or destination. Then there are tidal currents which in some cases will be resulting in a negative headway. To avoid this a sailor needs to time arrival for slack water or have the tidal current directed toward the destination.Greg Rudzinski

[NavList] Course to steer at a given speed.

From: Sean C

Date: 28 Nov 2012 04:10

A while back, I was reading the chapter in Bowditch dealing with dead reckoning. I was especially interested in the section dealing with course and speed made good. Well, last night on my lunch break (I work nights), I decided to solve a quick problem I made up:"If I were on a ship which was 10nm due East of port, with a set of 360° and drift of 3 kts., and I needed to arrive in port in exactly one hour, what course and speed should I use?"I figured the answer to be 253° ---5 kts. But then I started to wonder: That's all well and good for a vessel under engine power, but what about a sailboat? I know the way to figure course to steer at a given speed, but wouldn't turning a sailboat into the current (as in my example) actually slow the speed through the water enough to change the necessary course to steer? Or is this error so small as to be negligible? Or is there some other way to factor that in?Regards,

Sean C

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