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Old 18-06-2013, 06:53   #166
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Re: Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?

Ah, It's time to confess that my choice of not running downwind in the face of the thunderstorm is partially equipment related. I have a love/hate relationship with my 40 year old Schaeffer roller-furling system that is hoisted separately from my headstay. You notice I said, "roller-furling" & not "roller-reefing". You see, if I attempt to reef in strong winds, I do not end up with a normal piece of sail. I love the old Scheaffer system for my ability to drop it to the deck and reduced windage as I did recently anchored in a tropical storm. My functional choice to shorten sail is the hank on a small club foot working jib, but this sail change is not a quick solution for an action taken for a pop-up thunderstorm. ......or maybe I'm too lazy to make the change for the short term event!
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Old 18-06-2013, 07:04   #167
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Re: Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?

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I have considered donning the dive mask and snorkel to get thru a squall with eyes intact. Wise friends say a ski mask is the trick.
I have a full face grinders helmet. Does the trick and allows air flow
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Old 18-06-2013, 07:12   #168
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Re: Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?

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Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
The wind itself CAN hurt the boat. It can rip up your rigging; it can rip up your sails. It can bring the mast down, which can hurt or kill people and leave a pole in the water that can then sink your boat.
I'm sorry, but this is simply false.

The wind alone, unless it's a tornado, cannot rip up your rigging or bring your mast down. It cannot hurt or kill anyone. Unless, of course, you have done something stupid with your sails, as I said (but doing something stupid with your sails can kill you at 20 knots of wind, too, even 10).

"Something stupid with your sails" means getting caught in a 50 knot blast with the main sheeted in and all plain sail up and then failing to blow the sheets before getting knocked down, getting into an unintentional gybe which decapitates you or your crew, and so forth. It only takes a tiny bit of very basic seamanship to avoid any significant danger from the wind resulting from a t-storm. An irrational fear of strong wind will not do anything to enhance your safety; on the contrary, it will lead to incorrect judgements, and panic, and further irrational ideas. This "tiny bit of very basic seamanship" is well within the reach of any beginner who is even slightly willing to learn anything -- you don't have to be a salt-encrusted circumnavigator.

The nature of non-frontal t-storms is not "all different". On the contrary, they are all more or less the same, and all arise from the same cause -- convection and moisture. Some elementary knowledge of weather is a really good thing for any sailor to know. A good place to start on t-storms:

http://www.weatheranswer.com/public/Thunderstorm.pdf

Types of Thunderstorms: single cell, multicell clusters, multicell lines and supercells

Single Cell Thunderstorms: also known as pulse thunderstorms

Ordinary non-frontal thunderstorms last 20 - 30 minutes and rarely have wind over 50 knots. They are made up of cells of storm activity; sometimes consist of just one cell. "Severe thunderstorms" have somewhat stronger winds, but do not last longer than that. But the more severe a t-storm is, the more predictable it is. T-storms which "come out of nowhere" are almost always single-cell t-storms. "Supercells", the really dangerous kind of t-storm, are exceptionally rare (one out thousands or tens of thousands of t-storms) and are tracked for hours as they form. Tornadoes come from supercells. "Derechos" are the most severe storm which is not either a tornado or a tropical rotating storm, but they are exceptionally rare and cannot be formed over water. They are large-scale weather events which do not "come out of nowhere".


Notice that we talk about "non-frontal t-storms". This is important. Storms generated by major frontal systems are very different and are incomparably more dangerous at sea, and none of what I wrote applies. The difference for us is that while you can never be sure of avoiding a heat-generated non-frontal t-storm, while sailing along a coast, especially in the sub-tropics, where they are unpredictable and can happen almost every day in the summer, there is never any reason to be out as a major frontal system passes over, unless you are somewhere days from land. Dealing with a major frontal system and the storms these generate would be a very different conversation.
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Old 18-06-2013, 07:15   #169
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Re: Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?

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Originally Posted by Snore View Post
When posting advice or "facts" one should be sure of them. YOU ARE WRONG.

There is plenty of room for a sail boat to weather a squall west of the GS and still be in 100 foot of water. I know this as I sail out if Hillsboro Inlet and sail Miami to Lake Worth inlet....

I would suggest reading the charts and plotting the west wall if the Gulf Stream on the chart before posting a response.

Cheers

And I would suggest that we try to remain polite. Cheers back to you.

In my FIRST post I said that I had studied those charts last November (it was actually October) but that the trip was cancelled and that I did not remember the details.

As it happens I did not own those charts and did not have them for reference. I raised the issue. Presumably (hopefully!) the OP has charts and can see for himself as well. I don't recall anything resembling 100 ft of depth off the coast of Florida but west of the Gulf Stream. Our conclusion was that we would have to leave very early to sail that part of the coast to avoid threat of storm. This boat was not in the best shape and we needed extra caution. In fact I concluded that the boat wsa unsafe for the trip and withdrew from the trip. My friend simply didn't have the money to get this old, derelict boat he had boughg seaworthy before moving it around to the Tampa Bay region. He managed to get someone with little experience to go along with them. Must have been a rough trip ...

From the beginning I stated that I hadn't looked at those charts in some time, and my emphasis on comments here has been on the nature of the storms that can form in that area. One could have jumped in any time and politely said, "I have the chart in front of me; there's three miles of water 100 deep between the shore of Fort Lauderdale and the edge of the Gulf Stream." Personally I would have doubted it, but without a chart to refer to, would have remained silent.

All it takes is one finger of stand extending out. We have that in abundance on the SW coast of Florida. It may not be as tricky on the east coast.

But if you read my posts, what I have been arguing is that the storms can be quite treacherous, shouldn't be dismisssed as "15 minute squalls" when it's really much more complicated than that -- and that that first wall of wind can be quite dangerous; etc.

Yesterday my internet feed was slow and in fact charts wouldn't load. I live in a marina and am subject to the bandwidth demands of the total marina. This morning, however, I was able to access the NOAA charts and saw what I remembered ... there are dramatic changes in the depth of the water along Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood (for those of you who don't know, Hollywood is between Fort Lauderdale and Miami) that could add to turbulence in a bad (not a technological meteoroligcal term).

My friend and I concluded that being caught in a significant storm there could be difficult to manage. We concluded that we should sail it early in the day, and maybe that's what the OP should do -- break the trip up so that he can be certain of doing the last leg early in the day. Unless a front is coming through, not common at this time of year, he should be fine.

The bottom line is that many people can offer opinions, but the biggest sailing mistake I ever made was to listen to other people's opinions one day and not look at the data myself and decide for myself whether or not I should take that trip on that day.

If I had done that, I would not have sailed that day. We have to take responsibility for our own decisions.

There's a rapid dropoff of depths in that area, which will affect wave action; and the edge of the Gulf Stream comes very close to Florida in that area. Personally I think those are factors to take into consideration. I think the OP, given his boat and, apparently, his experience, is right to be concerned, especially at this time of year, and I think he should *consider* making sure he can traverse that part of the trip early in the day. That is the kind of prudence IMO newer sailors and smaller boats should exercise.
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Old 18-06-2013, 07:19   #170
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Re: Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptForce View Post
I notice that there is very little difference between my own action during a thunderstorm and Dockhead's except for his choice to run downwind during the duration and my choice to hold position pointing into the wind. This is a choice that is usually occuring during fifteen to thirty minutes of high wind. This choice might be influenced by the design of the boat and our percieved comfort. I'm comfortable with my actions, but I see merit with Dockhead's too.
There are many ways to skin this cat, and there's nothing in the world wrong with holding her head to the wind with the engine while the storm blows over. Heaving-to also works a treat, and would be preferred if you don't have sea room. I've done both of these things myself when I didn't want to go wherever downwind would have taken me. I prefer running off only because it is the most comfortable posture and doesn't scare the passengers as much , certainly not because it's the only way.
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Old 18-06-2013, 07:59   #171
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Re: Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
And I would suggest that we try to remain polite. Cheers back to you.

In my FIRST post I said that I had studied those charts last November (it was actually October) but that the trip was cancelled and that I did not remember the details.

As it happens I did not own those charts and did not have them for reference. I raised the issue. Presumably (hopefully!) the OP has charts and can see for himself as well. I don't recall anything resembling 100 ft of depth off the coast of Florida but west of the Gulf Stream. Our conclusion was that we would have to leave very early to sail that part of the coast to avoid threat of storm. This boat was not in the best shape and we needed extra caution. In fact I concluded that the boat wsa unsafe for the trip and withdrew from the trip. My friend simply didn't have the money to get this old, derelict boat he had boughg seaworthy before moving it around to the Tampa Bay region. He managed to get someone with little experience to go along with them. Must have been a rough trip ...

From the beginning I stated that I hadn't looked at those charts in some time, and my emphasis on comments here has been on the nature of the storms that can form in that area. One could have jumped in any time and politely said, "I have the chart in front of me; there's three miles of water 100 deep between the shore of Fort Lauderdale and the edge of the Gulf Stream." Personally I would have doubted it, but without a chart to refer to, would have remained silent.

All it takes is one finger of stand extending out. We have that in abundance on the SW coast of Florida. It may not be as tricky on the east coast.

But if you read my posts, what I have been arguing is that the storms can be quite treacherous, shouldn't be dismisssed as "15 minute squalls" when it's really much more complicated than that -- and that that first wall of wind can be quite dangerous; etc.

Yesterday my internet feed was slow and in fact charts wouldn't load. I live in a marina and am subject to the bandwidth demands of the total marina. This morning, however, I was able to access the NOAA charts and saw what I remembered ... there are dramatic changes in the depth of the water along Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood (for those of you who don't know, Hollywood is between Fort Lauderdale and Miami) that could add to turbulence in a bad (not a technological meteoroligcal term).

My friend and I concluded that being caught in a significant storm there could be difficult to manage. We concluded that we should sail it early in the day, and maybe that's what the OP should do -- break the trip up so that he can be certain of doing the last leg early in the day. Unless a front is coming through, not common at this time of year, he should be fine.

The bottom line is that many people can offer opinions, but the biggest sailing mistake I ever made was to listen to other people's opinions one day and not look at the data myself and decide for myself whether or not I should take that trip on that day.

If I had done that, I would not have sailed that day. We have to take responsibility for our own decisions.

There's a rapid dropoff of depths in that area, which will affect wave action; and the edge of the Gulf Stream comes very close to Florida in that area. Personally I think those are factors to take into consideration. I think the OP, given his boat and, apparently, his experience, is right to be concerned, especially at this time of year, and I think he should *consider* making sure he can traverse that part of the trip early in the day. That is the kind of prudence IMO newer sailors and smaller boats should exercise.
Not sure what charts you are looking at but as the OP suggested at 3 miles offshore, in all the screen grabs I've included below, depth is not a problem.

Also, from today's forecast, the west wall of the GS isn't anywhere close to 3 miles (I doubt it ever has been that close from Port Everglades to Gov't Cut).

Quote:
THE APPROXIMATE LOCATION OF THE WEST WALL OF THE GULF STREAM AS OF JUN 17, 2013 AT 1200 UTC...

8 NAUTICAL MILES EAST OF FOWEY ROCKS. 9 NAUTICAL MILES EAST OF PORT EVERGLADES. 4 NAUTICAL MILES EAST NORTHEAST OF LAKE WORTH. 5 NAUTICAL MILES EAST NORTHEAST OF JUPITER INLET.
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Old 18-06-2013, 09:16   #172
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DotDun...thanks for the post, it added the needed facts

Raku... That was the "nice" version!!! FYI Free charts and software are readily available to help you understand some of what is being discussed.
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Old 18-06-2013, 09:56   #173
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Re: Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?

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Your wind speed instrument is out of calibration. That sea state in the pics says the wind was 8 POINT 1, not 81. What's up?
I wish! It was pushing the boat way over. The rain flattens the seas in my experience. I'm happy for that. The waves pick up again when the rain leaves.
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Old 18-06-2013, 10:03   #174
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Re: Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?

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Different planet I guess. At Force 12 the sea is "completely white with flying spray greatly reducing visibility".

One bar bragger had an instrument pic like that and it later developed that while he had indeed been in a rough storm his SCUBA tank has assisted with acquiring the pic at a later time. Heh.
I'm not trying to brag at all. What I am trying to demonstrate is the winds can pick up tremendously in very little time. These summer storms do not last very long. Usually they are over in 30 minutes or so. If I remember correctly the wind was probably 10 knots or so before the storm hit. The photo os the clouds and rain were not necessarily taken at the same time. And of course 80 was a quick gust, not sustained at all. It was more like 30 sustained. But you can really get these incredible strong burst of winds.

This is why I would not recommend keeping up anything but the smallest piece of sail.
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Old 18-06-2013, 10:06   #175
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Re: Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?

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You took photos - dont tell me you weren't having fun...
It usually starts off with some concern. Then a little fear. And once everything is going smoothly despite all mother nature is sending at me I relax a little bit and go with the flow. Once it has past and the sun comes back out it makes a good FB post.
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Old 18-06-2013, 10:12   #176
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Re: Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?

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Once a few years ago I really needed to get home from Bridport, in Lyme Bay, as the weather was building up to a full storm (in Beaufort's sense) and threatening to make the entrance impassible for days. It was a strong gale from the SW and I needed to go East. It had been blowing for a couple of days and the sea was "high", as described by the Coast Guard. But I knew that although the waves were huge, the shape of them would be benign -- if I chose the right part of the tide cycle, with the tide running in the same direction as the storm, reducing the wavelength.

That pretty much explained why my first wife stopped sailing.
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Old 18-06-2013, 10:20   #177
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Re: Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?

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Scenario: East coast of USA sailing. 3 miles off shore headed parallel to shore. Water is somewhat shallow - 20-30 feet (like in S. Florida) and one of those Florida thunderstorms comes in from the east. You are still several hours from harbor- say, you are halfway between Port Everglades and Miami/Government Cut.
What is you tactic to keep your boat and crew safe?
You are in a 8,000 lbs. boat with 3,000 ballast, full keel, shallow draft (3.8 feet) and wide beam (10.6 feet) stout little 27 foot boat with a length at waterline of 24 feet. What is the procedure you activate?
Pray!
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Old 18-06-2013, 10:29   #178
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Re: Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?

To the original poster. I also (as you can see in my photo) prefer to stay headed into the wind. Its the most comfortable position for my boat. I have also seen the wind clock all the way around while in the storm.

3 miles off shore is generally where I am sailing as well. Out enough not to worry about depth and too many other boats. But not so far out that it takes another hour or two to get to the inlet. Also not much effect from the Gulf Stream. If I have crew going north then I would go look for the current to get a boost if I was planning on going straight to Ponce Inlet (where I live).

Also if I know it's going to be a bad day, I personally prefer to stay in the ICW. There are lots of places to anchor or tie up along the way. If it's going to be a stinky day, set out a lot of chain, cuddle up with your hunny and read a good book.
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Old 18-06-2013, 10:42   #179
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Re: Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?

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Not sure what charts you are looking at but as the OP suggested at 3 miles offshore, in all the screen grabs I've included below, depth is not a problem.

Also, from today's forecast, the west wall of the GS isn't anywhere close to 3 miles (I doubt it ever has been that close from Port Everglades to Gov't Cut).

My point about the drop off in depth is that it could cause waves to pile up. But I'm now doing what I object to sometimes -- speculating. I will present it as speculation. I see it in the Gulf because the Gulf is shallow much further out than the Atlantic, but where the water hits a a rising floor, it can rile things up.

I think we're doing what we always do here. We answered the OP's questions long ago, giving him a wide variety of possibilities. Only he can consider what is most likely to apply to his boat, his experience, and his plan.

Now we're starting to flog a dead horse, and the more speculative it gets, the more heated it will get. It's what happens here. I don't mean YOU do that. I'm just saying where I think this thread, generally, is headed now.
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Old 18-06-2013, 10:43   #180
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Re: Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?

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Reef the sails, close the ports, portable electronics in the microwave with the breaker off and enjoy the ride.

and / or: turn the radar on and move to avoid the big cells if you can... the dense cells and lightning show up very well on radar...
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