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Old 01-07-2019, 04:13   #1
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Tough Day - Thunderstorm

So I was enjoying a lovely afternoon out with the family when we got a thunderstorm warning. We were about 20 minutes from home so we headed home, got everything (what I thought was secured) and turned on the motor.

When the thunderstorm got to us, I turned head to wind and we were slammed by a wall of water.

Our mainsail, which was stowed in it's stackpack literally exploded into the air causing a major broach. We were on our ear for what felt like forever until I got the main down. Had to cut off the outhaul, reefing lines and halyard.

The highest windspeed before our wind sensor departed the boat was 52kts...

The sail snagged on our saildrive and we were completely without steerage or power.

It was a really tough afternoon, but I would like to learn as much as possible from it.

1) WHY did the mainsail go up? There are two issues in hindsight that I can see, 1 - I neglected to remove the halyard from the head of the sail, so I am thinking that helped pull the sail up. 2 - our stack pack has an open front design, so I guess that allowed the wind to enter push through the folded sail? Anything else you can think of? Do you need to use sail ties with a stack pack usually?

2) We have some damaged to the main, the wind sensor is gone, I have cut several lines, there may be damage to the head stay. What do I need to do at this point, do I need a marine survey? Could the saildrive have been damaged? We didn't hit bottom as far as I could tell, but could there be hull damage?

Any other advice you guys could give for preparing for this kind of weather?

Thank you.
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Old 01-07-2019, 04:49   #2
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Regarding the main uphaul, generally I snag it under a cleat on the mast then tension it so it cant come lose, if no cleat available I undo it from the head of the sail and shackle to a lazyjack eye.
Something I do whether motoring for a while or leaving the boat for a while.
Does your stack pack not have a zip.. maybe get one added.
Was your saildrive juddering or showing abnormal performance, is there water seeping in around the seal???
If yes to any of above get it checked, if not your likely fine.
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Old 01-07-2019, 04:58   #3
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Re: Tough Day - Thunderstorm

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Regarding the main uphaul, generally I snag it under a cleat on the mast then tension it so it cant come lose, if no cleat available I undo it from the head of the sail and shackle to a lazyjack eye.
Something I do whether motoring for a while or leaving the boat for a while.
Does your stack pack not have a zip.. maybe get one added.
Was your saildrive juddering or showing abnormal performance, is there water seeping in around the seal???
If yes to any of above get it checked, if not your likely fine.
Thanks for the reply.

The stack pack has a zipper, it blew out.
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Old 01-07-2019, 05:27   #4
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Re: Tough Day - Thunderstorm

you should have secured the main halyard before the storm. not sure about your damage at this point
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Old 01-07-2019, 05:34   #5
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Thanks for the reply.

The stack pack has a zipper, it blew out.
Removing the uphaul would likely have prevented that happening.
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Old 01-07-2019, 07:22   #6
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Re: Tough Day - Thunderstorm

I don't think removing the main halyard would have prevented this. The head of your main still would have blown up the track. What you need is a length of line with a snap shackle. The snap shackle attaches to your main halyard or headboard and then it gets tied down to a cleat on the mast or something on deck. This will stop your head from shooting up the track. To prevent the leech you need to get some velcro, a sail tie, or a drawstring to close the aft end of your stack pack to prevent wind from blowing into the folds of your sail.
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Old 01-07-2019, 07:56   #7
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Re: Tough Day - Thunderstorm

Remove the halyard. I attach mine to end of traveler track when not in use. Also alleviates it slapping the mast. Zip shut your stack pack, so sail won't come out on a blow.
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Old 01-07-2019, 08:41   #8
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Re: Tough Day - Thunderstorm

It sounds from your description that you got hit by a microburst- a straight-line wind within a thunderstorm front. Those suckers can top 90 mph, and used to slam airliners into the ground before the FAA banned landing in a thunderstorm. If you want to learn more about this aspect of your experience, check out WeatherTap.com RadarLab HD, which shows you the imbedded cells, not just the angry red thunderstorm.

Look on the bright side. You're OK, your boat came through it well. Neither you nor your electronics became a Krispy Kritter, despite your being in a very vulnerable position.

For next time, I hope that you will find a source of weather information that can keep you out of this sort of thing. I like WeatherTap. My university uses it to know when to put students indoors, since those cells can slice and dice.
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Old 01-07-2019, 09:11   #9
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Re: Tough Day - Thunderstorm

I have never heard of wind causing a zipped up stack pack to blow out. I have always assumed once you stow and zip your sail is secure; and the main halyard is always removed when zipped up in my experience. Maybe the halyard "helped" the zipper to open up?

You definitely went through a serious microburst. If your fouled saildrive was shut down quickly I am hoping you don't have any damage. If you do then I guess a call to your insurance company will be in order.
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Old 01-07-2019, 09:45   #10
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Re: Tough Day - Thunderstorm

I think your issue is because you have an open front instead of closed wraparound the mast design. Turning head to wind you showed a large opening with no place for the wind to go out which caused the blowout.

Being singlehanded I'm running all my lines aft so I never have to leave the cockpit. All 3 reefing lines and what I call my dousing line. That line runs to the the head and allows me to bring the sail all the way into the stack pack without ever leaving the cockpit. At least that's my theory. If I have 3 reefs in the main and feel I need to drop it all the last place I want to go is to the mast. Open for comment on the idea BTW
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Old 01-07-2019, 10:07   #11
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Re: Tough Day - Thunderstorm

Sail issues appear toe covered by others. Relative to the saildrive, if you have a cone clutch it could possibly be glazed, resulting in transmission not engaging.
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Old 01-07-2019, 10:32   #12
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Re: Tough Day - Thunderstorm

Was this Yesterday (Sunday the 30th)?
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Old 01-07-2019, 10:33   #13
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Re: Tough Day - Thunderstorm

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Was this Yesterday (Sunday the 30th)?
Yes it was
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Old 01-07-2019, 10:39   #14
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Re: Tough Day - Thunderstorm

I can't understand why you had to cut lines to bring the sail down? Can you elaborate on that?

Also, did your prop-wrap happen because you cut the lines? (and that allowed them to run free into the water?)
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Old 01-07-2019, 10:43   #15
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Re: Tough Day - Thunderstorm

We were headed out around noon from city island when when a huge blast blew through and we decided to bail. Saw a couple other boats having problems as well. I also have an open front stack pack new this year from Doyle and I would have done exactly the same thing you did. Sorry for your hassles but I will be more aware of securing the main when I douse so you helped at least one sailor by posting. Good luck with your repairs!
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