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Secrets of the St. Lawrence
The wind and the waves - The windway
The wind and the waves (PDF; 40 KB)
- "We have to cross to Anticosti today, or we'll have trouble tomorrow. They're calling for 30 knot winds tomorrow and the sea will be too high for my liking. Sailing is a lot of fun, but you need strong nerves."
If there were never any wind, the St Lawrence would be a gigantic mirror, rising and falling with the tides. But that is not the case at all.
The St Lawrence is a vast surface that can be whipped up into violent seas depending on the direction, duration and speed of the wind.
Fetch is the distance over which the wind has been blowing from the same direction. The longer the fetch, the higher and longer the waves. After 12 hours at the same speed, though, the wind has almost no effect on the waves, except that it may cause them to lengthen, distance permitting.
Since the fetch is limited on the St Lawrence, the waves cannot lengthen as much as they do out in the open ocean, so they often become very steep.
In July and August, the waves are rarely higher than 3 metres.
Swell and wind waves
Waves that have been formed elsewhere or before the wind changed direction are called swell. The swell can be an indication of approaching winds.
If the waves are flowing in the same direction as the wind, however, you are looking at wind waves. If the wind should shift, you will encounter cross seas.
Fetch: 50 nautical miles
Duration: 6 hours
- 1. Fore to aft
- 2. What Cartier missed out on
- 3. Conversion
- 4. The Secrets of the St Lawrence
- 5. The wind in your sails - Hard a-port!
- 6. The wind in your sails - Fast or slow?
- 7. The wind in your sails - The wind's paths
- 8. The wind in your sails - Against the wall
- 9. The wind in your sails - Solar energy
- 10. The wind in your sails - Under the stars
- 11. The wind and the waves - The windway
- 12. The wind and the waves - Wave wars
- 13. The wind and the waves - Graveyards
- 14. The wind and the waves - Conflicting seas
- 15. Symbols
- 16. The St Lawrence, from 1 to... - Legend
- 17. The St Lawrence, from 1 to... - Calling all sailors
- 18. The St Lawrence, from 1 to... Hot spots
- 19. Local listings - Québec - Pointe-des-Monts
- 20. Local listings - Pointe-des-Monts - Cap Whittle
- 21. Local listings - Cap Whittle - Blanc-Sablon
- 22. Local listings - Gaspésie - Baie des Chaleurs
- 23. Local listings - Îles de la Madeleine
- 24. Sailors take warning - White-outs
- 25. Sailors take warning - The sky above us
- 26. Sailors take warning - Keeping a weather eye
- 27. Sailors take warning - Fair weather and foul
- 28. Sailors take warning - The unexpected
- 29. The four seasons - Wind aplenty
- 30. The four seasons - Vessel icing
- 31. The four seasons - Ice cycle
- 32. Extra - Beaufort
- 33. Extra - Handy references
- 34. Extra - Old Salts and Sea-dogs
- 35. Extra - The crew
- 36. Extra - A to Z
- 37. Extra - Stations
- 38. Extra - Areas
- 39. Credits
- Date modified: