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Old 02-09-2010, 12:25   #16
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I might not have believed it either, but I was backpacking in the Sierras a few years ago with my friend (and my dog). We'd been up there for several days, and I've been to the area before.

All of a sudden a howl came through and the wind knocked me down to my knee, my dog fell over, my friend's hat blew a good 50 yards away into a tree, and he ended up falling over too. Then it was gone, like it never happened.

We asked people back home what it might have been. It wasn't a sonic boom, no storms, no nothing. Just really weird.
I've spent much of my life in the mountains of BC. You can be some place that sees almost no wind because of the protection the mountains can afforrd and then come across what is called a blowdown, an small area (sometimes not so small), often circular, where the wind has blown so hard as to knock grown trees down. All the trees in the area will be flattened. Strangely I've never herd of anyone being injured in a blowdown.
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Old 02-09-2010, 12:54   #17
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These are not really "out of the ordinary" occurances. Wind speed is not static, it can and does change direction and velocity. Sometimes with more oomph and speed then we are expecting.

Glad it all worked out well.
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Old 02-09-2010, 13:11   #18
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Thanks.... great post.

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Capngeo--

Hell of a tale but it sounds like you did the best you could under the circumstances. The stretch between Cape Romano and Smith Shoal is just a nasty piece of water. The prevailing winds are easterlys and they drive the squalls that develop over the Evergaldes out to sea once the sun sets and the sea breeze dies off. On our last trip to Key West several yachts ahead and behind us had major problems including a sizable Catalina out of Charlotte Harbor YC that was knocked down a full 90º (she later pulled into Key West with seaweed stuck in her spreaders). During that passage we tracked no fewer than 5 squalls on the radar at one time and were able to avoid all but one that I swear moved to windward to catch us. We only got the edge, but had 40+ knots over the deck at one point.

While your experience was tramatic, you survived and got a heck of an education, eh? Moreover, you still have the boat (and the Cal 28's a peach). Had your EPIRB worked its likely you'd have been picked up but the yacht lost, given the CG will not tow a damaged yacht any longer.

Given our experience with that stretch of water, at this point, unless there is a very good moon, once the sun goes down we always tuck in the first reef and roll the genny up until it can't overlap the shrouds. We also adjust the course so that we don't need a pole to hold the genny in place, even if that means heading off the rhumb line somewhat. Although some might disagree with the practice, we also don't secure the sheets to cleats but keep them in the self tailers with an extra "safety wrap" so they can be spun off the winches in a heart-beat. Lastly, if we are hit, we run off, down wind, to take the load off the headsail so it can be furled entirely. Lastly, we always wear harnesses and keep clipped on to the yacht, even though they can be a pain in the neck and sometimes seem unnecessary.

FWIW I have found the first warning that bad stuff may be coming is the wind suddenly feeling cool. That seems to mean you've only got minutes to act.

N'any case, best wishes for less exciting trips in the future, eh?
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Old 02-09-2010, 13:16   #19
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It was indeed a front, but about 24 hours ahead of prediction
Do you happen to know whether NOAA updated their prediction closer to the front hitting?
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Old 02-09-2010, 13:27   #20
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Thanks for posting that Capngeo. I learned a good bit and now see there are several things in the safety department that I can be more pro-active about. Again, thanks and glad you two are OK.
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Old 02-09-2010, 14:42   #21
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I have experienced this also, There called microburst. Usually but not always associated with thunderstorm nearby, or other upper atmosphere disturbance. They have been the cause of several aviation disasters.

That is crazy. Thanks for letting me know! I can tell me friend now what the hell that thing was.
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Old 02-09-2010, 14:54   #22
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I have experienced this also, There called microburst. Usually but not always associated with thunderstorm nearby, or other upper atmosphere disturbance. They have been the cause of several aviation disasters.
Yes, they are dangerous for aircraft. I had a friend years ago who was hit by a micro-burst while flying a helicopter. Due to the wind and sudden extreme pressure drop, he was forced into a mountainside and killed. From what I was told, there was just no warning and nothing he could have done to avoid it.

Weird stuff.
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Old 02-09-2010, 15:45   #23
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To my ignorant/uninformed ear, sounds like you and your sailing partner are very lucky. Have you considered the purchase of lottery tickets?
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Old 02-09-2010, 15:46   #24
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I am surprised no one commented on the resourcefulness and courage shown in your response to the situation. Assuming your account of it is accurate, you did a hell of job saving your boat and your crew, and even, the rig.
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Old 02-09-2010, 16:18   #25
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I am surprised no one commented on the resourcefulness and courage shown in your response to the situation. Assuming your account of it is accurate, you did a hell of job saving your boat and your crew, and even, the rig.
One fellow at the dock in KW did...... when he saw the footprints ON THE SIDE of the house!

We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies when we got in. It took over 6 months to put the boat back in pre-storm shape. EVERY piece of hardware that took load needed re-bedding. To this day the deck under the mast is 1/2" lower than before (the compression post is straight... dunno why the mast is lower), Every stansion needed re-bedding, all the lifelines were either replaced or re-swaged, the damned roller furling lines are NEW, the sails have both been repaired, the hydraulic tensioner was rebuilt (BTW, cudos to Florida Hydraulics and Rigging's Buc Miller!), The Bimini was repaired, the overhead in the cabin still has water damage and is on the list, the Boom Vang was overhauled because it got over extended, the boom/mast knuckle gizmo was welded where it broke, the boom is still bent a bit and the sail will only roll in 90%..... and I'm sure I'm missing something still!

I can say a CAL28 will float at 90+ degrees without shipping water through the companionway..... but a LOT sure comes in the dorades!
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Old 02-09-2010, 17:08   #26
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It has been said that "the sea is neutral". Perhaps it is, but I suspect that it is an "armed neutrality", as in heavily armed compared to man and his puny devices.
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Old 02-09-2010, 20:23   #27
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I am surprised no one commented on the resourcefulness and courage shown in your response to the situation. Assuming your account of it is accurate, you did a hell of job saving your boat and your crew, and even, the rig.
Certainly the immediate actions were great. The crew started off working in different directions but quickly started working as a team.

Getting the boat under control and then anchoring it was great work and allowed both crew to work the issues, especially securing the sails and weakened rig.

Evaluating what resources were left to the crew was also critical so subsequent resource planning could be done.

So I take nothing away from the crew. Raising questions here are not intended to indict the crew but to illuminate as many people as possible about how this could have been avoided or made less dramatic.

1 - Questions about the weather especially. A 1 day sail that turns into a 4 day sail is pretty amazing. Most areas of the world can predict the weather within a pretty good 24 hour window. If the front was 24 hours early some weather service knew it.

2 - Float plan. The boat and crew arrived 3 days late on a 1 day cruise. I am pretty sure that were I holding the float plan I would have alerted authorities after day 2. Especially if a weather system had just battered the route. I guess a float plan should include when to alert authorites if the crew has not checked in.

3 - Running a full suite of sails at night with no visibility is not such a bad thing, but if there was a known front coming in within the next 24 hours I might have been more conservative. OK - I know me (not to second guess OP) I would not be sailing at night in low vis with a 150 genny out. I don't thnk I would have reefed the main (I think I would now - so I have learned something) but the genny would be no more than 100% overnight.

I don't want to be rude and I don't want to be judgemental, and of course I am speaking from the comfort of my office with the full clarity of hindsight but the fundamental issue here was weather management that could have been handled better.

Again - once in the situation the crew performed amazingly.

Isn't there a saying like, "I am going to use all my skill, expertise and knowledge to avoid situations where I have to demonstrate my skill, expertise and knowledge."
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Old 02-09-2010, 20:58   #28
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XC....Thank you for the amazing part, but the heights one will rise to when their life is in the balance never ceases to amaze me either. We did what was needed, that's all.

Now the other stuff... We did have a float plan, but WE didn't follow it (yeah I know). The original idea was to run down the coast, duck in at night and eventually stop in Shark River.. Bill was going to go fishing there (hence the Whaler) and I was going to work on the boat (ahem the roller furling lines?) We actually arrived in KW only 48 hrs late from the float plan.

The front prediction was it speeding up, which was why we decided to rhumb line as opposed to coast hop..... BUT it still had it in North Florida when we last checked the WX at about 2000. They said (and our dumb asses believed) it was not going to push through until well after our expected KW arrival time.

Sails? Yeah I learned something there.... Never again full sail at night unless clear and full of stars / moon. Live and Learn!

Originally, our GFs were both going along; neither girl had ANY sailing (or any boating for that matter) experience. Only happenstance had them both back out at the last moment. Bill and I are both firefighters, and have put our lives on the line for each other many times in the last 25 years; that along with both of us having a LOT of time on the water, lead to a successful outcome.

This storm made the third time Bill and I have been on a small boat in gale+ conditions together. We have both seen each other washed overboard, and we have both thought we "bought the farm" before. Once on a power boat delivery, we lost a plank rhumb line from Cedar Key to Apalachicola in a January storm.... the boat sank in 90 seconds! But that is for another thread!
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Old 02-09-2010, 21:32   #29
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George,

Thanks for the openness in your posts. We sail at night around here but theer is so much light pollution we can always see what's going on.

Our weather tends to be convective thunderstorms that move at a consistent 10 knots with winds gusting to around 45.

We usually have plenty of warning and we furl and reef pretty much knowing what to expect. Genny furled to 80% and one reef in the main is about all we've ever needed although during the peaks we are traveller down and sheeted out and flogging the main for a spell.

We have suffered knock downs from B777 and B747 wake turbulence! Our sailing area is on the approach path to the airport. The vortices have created water spouts and we have been surprised by these. We tend the sheets as we cross the flight path and have had a couple of exciting moments.

One of these days I have to get a waterspout photo and post it.
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Old 03-09-2010, 05:51   #30
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George,

Thanks for the openness in your posts.
Ditto to that
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