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Old 16-06-2016, 08:44   #1
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Sailing into a storm

I watched some videos about sailboats caught in hurricanes, and wrecked on a lee shore. my question is if you end up in the situation of being caught, would it not be better to start the motor and go into the storm rather than risk beaching the boat?
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Old 16-06-2016, 08:50   #2
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Re: sailing into a storm

sure, do whatever it takes to stay off the beach

but most pleasure sailboats will not motor worth a damn into storm size waves or often even into really strong winds. Best course of action is often very flat very reefed main, motor on, motor-sailing at about 25 degree awa. That gives you a bit of main drive, and lets you take the waves at a bit of an angle.

Just dont get a line around the prop - sheet overboard, or someone else's line in an anchorage.
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Old 17-06-2016, 20:01   #3
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Re: sailing into a storm

Caught one time on a lee shore during a small cyclone, no way we could hoist the main, it had to be the storm jib, and we motor-sailed, short tacking out to sea with that. Necessity being the mother of invention, and all that. Got out where there was sea room and hove to for the night. Blew us about 30 miles off that night.
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Old 18-06-2016, 05:22   #4
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Re: sailing into a storm

Mike Tyson once said "everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth"
I recently got caught in gale strength winds and accompanying sea for the first time, things that seem easy theoretically beforehand are alot more difficult when the gunnel is in the water and its absolutely pouring. The other surprise is the difference between 30 knots and 40 knots is not 10 knots. As Evans said you do anything you need to, if you need to start the engine it is only good seamanship to do so.

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Old 18-06-2016, 05:23   #5
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Re: sailing into a storm

Sea room is definitely your friend.

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Old 18-06-2016, 07:06   #6
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Re: sailing into a storm

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Originally Posted by jyoung View Post
I watched some videos about sailboats caught in hurricanes, and wrecked on a lee shore. my question is if you end up in the situation of being caught, would it not be better to start the motor and go into the storm rather than risk beaching the boat?

It depends on the storm. If its just a localized thing that appeared quickly or something you have days to prepare for.

In the case of Hurricanes its important to know the quadrants depending on what hemisphere you are in. Using "Buys Ballots Law", you can safely (ish) enter and leave a part of a hurricane if you know its path. However, get it wrong and the hurricane can also run you down and eat you for breakfast.

In the southern hemisphere a hurricanes (cyclones) path is normaly south. The safer quadrants will be to the north. Vice versa for the northern hemisphere.

Ohhhh.. i Digressed.. But the short answer is yes, its safer at sea than close to land. Though plowing into a maelstrom can be easier said than done
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Old 18-06-2016, 07:48   #7
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Re: sailing into a storm

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Originally Posted by jyoung View Post
I watched some videos about sailboats caught in hurricanes, and wrecked on a lee shore. my question is if you end up in the situation of being caught, would it not be better to start the motor and go into the storm rather than risk beaching the boat?
First you talk about sailing boats then you discover the engine. So they are sailboats or powerboats?

If you have a power boat, sure starting an engine and trying to get out of it is a smart move.

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Old 18-06-2016, 08:34   #8
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Re: sailing into a storm

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
First you talk about sailing boats then you discover the engine. So they are sailboats or powerboats?

If you have a power boat, sure starting an engine and trying to get out of it is a smart move.

b.
My sailboat has an engine. I "discovered" my engine last week in a small self induced sail emergency. It worked amazing well keeping us off the rocks until i could get everything figured out. Does that make my boat a sailboat or a powerboat?
Back to the question.....motor sail, sail, motor, row, tow, swim with a line clenched in your teeth ...whatever it takes to get away from the shore. Big waves are softer than rocks.
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Old 18-06-2016, 08:52   #9
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Re: sailing into a storm

Well put ssgt
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Old 18-06-2016, 08:57   #10
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Re: sailing into a storm

The storms I have been in, I just ran before them, Down wind, I drop my drive leg and used it as a drogue, then a tiny bit of the Genoa to keep me straight, But I have run with bare poles just to keep the speed down and not plowing into the forward wave,

Bare poles and amount of Genoa depend on the wave height and strength of the wind,
Thats entirely up to you and where you want to be between the waves, Guestimate,

Going north in a 40 knot wind on the nose and a 5 Knot sea current going south, 7 knots on the motor, I was going back wards,
Boat was standing up to 50 degrees on the nose before slamming back down again,
Gave that a miss and went south again,
I pulled into the next inlet down the coast, Forster on the NSW coast with the VRS guiding me in at 2-30 in the morning,
I was doing 8 knots on the motor, Flat stick, 1,5 knots on the GPS as the tide was in full flow on the way out, it was running at 6.5 knots,

It was an emergency to get into the inlet, All my davits for the Dinghy had snapped off and was about to go over the side, It also held my back stay for the mast, It was the anchor point for it, and I needed to get it all repaired, Before it all dropped off the back of the boat,
Other wise I would have just kept sailing south in front of the storm, Storms dont bother me, Its just a matter of controlling my speed, And you dont get to sleep while the storms raging,

Its so bloody rough going head on into a storm in my boat, and slams badly,
I just sail down wind till it blows itself out, if Im close to the coast, I just veer away from it, till I can sail in open water, Open ocean is the only place to be in a storm,
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Old 18-06-2016, 09:02   #11
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Re: sailing into a storm

There is the theory, and the reality the two don't necessarily meet up. When it comes to big storms the only safe place to be is on land. The next best option is motor sailing away from it at the maximum motor sailing speed you can manage, this means reefed sails plus full motor.

But the reality is that few sailboats are capable of maintaining speed high enough to run from storms. Some big, or particularly fast ones might be able to manage it, but it's rare. Figure you need a speed over the ground of +10kn to have a chance, and until you get to +15kn you really can't be sure.

On the flip side boats capable of 500nm days seek out these storms because they can pick their preassure gradient and stay in exactly the winds they want, sometimes for days at a time, chewing up the passage miles very quickly.
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Old 18-06-2016, 09:19   #12
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Re: sailing into a storm

thank you everyone for your replies, it has been a learning discussion
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Old 18-06-2016, 10:12   #13
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Re: sailing into a storm

When your in it, and you dont know its coming, and the nearest land is 300 miles away,
You have to do whats the best for you at the time,

I dont use my motor other than drag it thru the water, It has a hydraulic drive leg, Its not running, It slows the boats speed down, It also keeps it in a straight line down the waves,
Its nice and comfortable, It sits level and flat, It doesnt leap and bounce around,
It also takes all the strain off the rigging,

I am not interested in Speeding thru the waves, Things can go wrong very quickly at speed,
And being single handed, I cant afford to have things break, Especially the rigging,
So I just sit back, Relax and let it do its thing, and really big waves dont bother it,
It is a Catamaran, They do sail a lot different to a Mono hull,
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Old 18-06-2016, 14:17   #14
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Re: sailing into a storm

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Originally Posted by SSgtPitt View Post
My sailboat has an engine. I "discovered" my engine last week in a small self induced sail emergency. It worked amazing well keeping us off the rocks until i could get everything figured out. Does that make my boat a sailboat or a powerboat?
Back to the question.....motor sail, sail, motor, row, tow, swim with a line clenched in your teeth ...whatever it takes to get away from the shore. Big waves are softer than rocks.
I think CD36 were designed when motors were but auxiliary power.

It is nice to have an engine that can help in some situations. But it would take a very powerful engine and plenty of fuel to get away from a storm.

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Old 19-06-2016, 04:29   #15
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Re: sailing into a storm

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Originally Posted by Stumble View Post
There is the theory, and the reality the two don't necessarily meet up. When it comes to big storms the only safe place to be is on land. The next best option is motor sailing away from it at the maximum motor sailing speed you can manage, this means reefed sails plus full motor.

But the reality is that few sailboats are capable of maintaining speed high enough to run from storms. Some big, or particularly fast ones might be able to manage it, but it's rare. Figure you need a speed over the ground of +10kn to have a chance, and until you get to +15kn you really can't be sure.

On the flip side boats capable of 500nm days seek out these storms because they can pick their preassure gradient and stay in exactly the winds they want, sometimes for days at a time, chewing up the passage miles very quickly.
500 NM days? Oh ,Ill have to get me one of those . How many here have one? Are they US navy surplus?
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