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Old 16-06-2013, 20:08   #16
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
I've sailed that coast a little bit but the major T-storm experience I have is off the African coast. As a general rule , Id say ensure you have reduced canvas. If you have to reef a lot , why not start the engine to keep steerage etc. ( particulary in the flukey light winds before the blow)

The major issues in such weather are being over canvassed and then trying to reef in the teeth of it. That's when " stuff" happens. ( I've even seen newbies put on more sail in the light winds with the cloud base approaching !!!!!! )

They are mostly short lived and intense and rarely kick up a big sea , so its just wind speed that's the issue and properly sailed wind will never do you harm. ( seas do ) of course you're in for a good soaking

As for lightening I do little only watch , not much you can do , but I do always have a primeval feeing that I should be in a cave really.

20-30 feet is scarery shallow , if you can seek deeper water , but most times you don't have the time.

But they can kick up a fairly big sea from a fairly small storm if the water is shallow. The waves also tend to be unpredictable and confused. I'm not talking 50' waves but it's enough to keep you busy and attentive.
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Old 16-06-2013, 20:10   #17
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It's not often a go or no-go decision in the areas I have been sailing. The storms are only predictable in their randomness. Maybe SE Asia storms are different than Florida. I wouldn't up-anchor with a big one looming, but otherwise I would just go and deal with it as it happens.
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Old 16-06-2013, 20:12   #18
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

we did this for a near year in a seidelmann 37... we reefed the roller furl genny and dumped the main, made sure we were out at east 30 miles and kept on going. the storms only lasted 30 mins to 3 hours, depending on point of sail.
once you get 60 mils off florida you will find fewer storm cells, if any. much more comfortable than 2-3 miles off fla--water is way too shallow for comfortable stormy weather sailing.

btw--the florida storms make notice of appearance around 4 hours before formation--they are local, predictable, and quick to end. they also pack big winds.
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Old 16-06-2013, 20:12   #19
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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Where I am you just don't get to sail as much in the summer. If it isn't a storm, the winds die completely. Don't know if you have to deal with that on the east coast.
I'm starting to wonder if the sailing season down here is in the fall and winter With the heat and storms, it sure would seem like an improvement over now.

We get a moderate amount of wind regardless, I think we usually see a steady 10-12 knots each day, usually from the east. That's been my observation so far anyway.

Thanks for the advice.
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Old 16-06-2013, 20:21   #20
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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Originally Posted by zeehag View Post
we did this for a near year in a seidelmann 37... we reefed the roller furl genny and dumped the main, made sure we were out at east 30 miles and kept on going. the storms only lasted 30 mins to 3 hours, depending on point of sail.
once you get 60 mils off florida you will find fewer storm cells, if any. much more comfortable than 2-3 miles off fla--water is way too shallow for comfortable stormy weather sailing.

btw--the florida storms make notice of appearance around 4 hours before formation--they are local, predictable, and quick to end. they also pack big winds.

I agree with Zeehag, but you have to learn to be sensitive to the humidity the way you learn to just instinctively notice the wind direction. The earlier in the day the humidity gets to "that point," and I can't tell you what it is but I can tell you when I feel it, the more likely there will be not just rain but a thunderstorm.

But the problem is that this thunderstorm will coalesce in one spot, and you can't predict where.

MOST storms off Florida will be short-lived, but sometimes several form, merge together, and take on a life of their own. They can be both fierce and longer lasting, as in 5 - 6 hours. A lot can break in that length of time.

You want to get out to sea for two reasons: first, it's more comfortable and easier to manage the boat. Second, if something really important breaks, like a rudder, you want to be away from that Florida coast.

Also, test your boat. Reef it when you're out sometimes as soon as you can and still sail, and not just when you have to. that way you'll learn just how she balances.

My old super-skinny (8 ft) 25' Irwin loved to be reefed and sailed like a creampuff. This boat is harder because the headsai is too big for a big blow, but I'm about to deal with that issue.
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Old 16-06-2013, 20:25   #21
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

The first thing I do is start the engine, get all sail down, move every thing and every one below deck get my bearings put a gps in the oven HOLD ON! I tried to anchor once on very short notice and the large wind shift and 50 plus gust yanked it right out! then I was in a real fix towing a anchor across the bay! If I had the engine running I think I could have prevented that?
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Old 16-06-2013, 20:42   #22
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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The first thing I do is start the engine, get all sail down, move every thing and every one below deck get my bearings put a gps in the oven HOLD ON! I tried to anchor once on very short notice and the large wind shift and 50 plus gust yanked it right out! then I was in a real fix towing a anchor across the bay! If I had the engine running I think I could have prevented that?

Completely agree with you about starting the engine. You can prevent or mitigate a lot of things with the engine on. The less experience you have, the more important it is.
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Old 16-06-2013, 21:00   #23
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pirate Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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Originally Posted by Rakuflames;1262217... The less experience you have, the more important [the engine
is.

Hard to argue that point. However, I think it pays real dividends to actually learn to sail yer sailboat. The squalls discussed are daily events in So FL, not survival situations.
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Old 16-06-2013, 21:43   #24
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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Hard to argue that point. However, I think it pays real dividends to actually learn to sail yer sailboat. The squalls discussed are daily events in So FL, not survival situations.

Actually, on occasion they can be survival situations, and it is *completely* possible to sail one's boat with the engine running in neutral. It's like a safety net for someone just learning to tightrope walk. Of course, I can't speak for everyone, but speaking solely for myself, just because I turn the engine on doesn't mean I put it in gear. It does mean I made sure the engine will be there if I need it.

I am not embarrassed by that, and it does not reflect badly on me. It means that I respect the amount of experience both do and don't have. I'm ready to stretch myself, but I have a safety net.

The OP has concerns about thunderstorms, and having seen quite a few in Florisa I think he is wise to take them seriously. If someone is is such a fabulous sailor that no storm is ever even a little intimidating, then he can ignore this discussion. It doesn't match with his sailing anyway.

I live near Nik Wallenda. He made the point the other day that you never stop practicing, that his grandfather died in his seventies, certainly with plenty of high-wire walking experience.

I've told this story before but I'll mention it again. I know someone who is only alive because he wrapped his tether around the mast while reefing his boat just one of those "harmless" storms hit. Wrapping it around the mast shortened it enough.

A gust of wind knocked the boat over, and he went through the life lines to his waist before the tether pulled him back. We just heard another tell the story of his boat being knocked over so far that the spreaders touched the water. Someone else said that the storms can routinely have gusts of 50 mph.

My neighbor whose tether saved him sailed with that storm for five hours, driven south. This took a high degree of seamanship on his part because the coast south of here is extremely shallow in some places.

When his feet were in the water and the tether was pulling him back up, he was in a survival situation.

One doesn't have to be caught in a typhoon to judge a storm to be worthy of one's respect.

YMMV, but this thread is for people who have concerns about coastal thunderstorms, and I think it's a wise concern.
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Old 16-06-2013, 23:25   #25
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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Originally Posted by advocate777 View Post
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?
In the Chesapeake you can be hit with severe squalls and intense lighting. My home waters are Long Island Sound, where we also get these. Some can pack initial gusts of up to 70+ mph that will knock your boat flat or flip a multihull... So when I see a severe storm coming I drop and secure all sails and start the engine, secure all loose deck gear, make sure dinghy is well tied, close hatches. Spare electronics, laptops etc. are placed in the oven. Foul weather gear and PFDs are donned ahead of the temperature drop, by all crew.

In your situation, only a few miles from shore in shallow water it might be a good tactic to head even closer/shallower and anchor. But that's a judgment call based on you situation and crew.
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Old 16-06-2013, 23:46   #26
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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Originally Posted by Adodero View Post
For instance, in the past 2 weeks, I've wanted to go out on the water for a few hours after work. In almost every instance there have been scattered storms around. Even if they weren't over the water, we didn't go, because I didn't want to risk it. Well, we finally go out on a day when there isn't a cloud in the sky and sure enough, at 10 AM we're in the middle of the river and a storm passes right overhead, thunder and lightning and all, the only one within a 30 mile radius of our location. We were 30 min away from the closest marina and so we just had to wait it out on the river (fortunately it was pretty well dissipated by the time it got to us).

So, my question is the same. When you live in an area where thunderstorms pop up in short periods of time, how do you make an educated go or no go decision? Where avoiding storms 100% of the time means "no go" and any "go" decision assumes some level of storm risk, especially given storms are a daily occurrence.
Just wondering .....

Will your boat melt when she hits the rain?
Will she explode when the thunder storm passing above her?

I know lots of HD owners don't take their bike out in the rain. The bike will melt. God.... No. May be they worry about the water spots, I have no clues.

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Old 17-06-2013, 03:25   #27
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

we get these big black cigar shaped thunderstorms - one minute you're floating in full sunshine, dead calm, the next you look up and a black wall is 30 seconds away and it hits like a bloody train - i see those now i pull everything down well in advance and wait for it to roll over - its like being in a washing machine for a few minutes and then it settles down with the wind and sea coming hard from the opposite direction, you can get up some reefed canvas and carry on. The first time i got hit by one i didnt get the main down in time and it got ripped in half. Otherwise they're pretty harmless, just a bit of fun.
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Old 17-06-2013, 03:38   #28
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

These non-frontal heat-generated t-storms are an almost daily occurence in Florida. As others have said, they can be incredibly intense for a short period of time. They are not dangerous because they are localized and cannot generate a dangerous sea state.

As others have said -- put on a foul weather jacket, batten the hatches, and enjoy the ride. A GPS in the oven is a good idea in case you get lightninged. You want as much sea room as possible (plus sea state will be better with deeper water), so if can get out further to sea, that's always a good idea.

I would suggest running before it with a little bit of headsail up. Put away the main altogether. You will have a wild ride but should not be dangerous since there is nothing to cause you to broach -- no mainsail up, and no large breaking seas (the chop can be violent, however). Running off will reduce the apparent wind speed and calm things down remarkably.

I spent about 15 years cruising in SW Florida and this was what we always did. It scares the daylights out of any land people on board, but in general there is nothing difficult about these conditions unless you're caught very close to land in very shallow water, or you get caught with your pants down -- err, too much sail up. We did get struck by lightning once; that's about the worst thing that can happen to you.
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Old 17-06-2013, 03:51   #29
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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Originally Posted by Rakuflames View Post
Actually, on occasion they can be survival situations, and it is *completely* possible to sail one's boat with the engine running in neutral. It's like a safety net for someone just learning to tightrope walk. Of course, I can't speak for everyone, but speaking solely for myself, just because I turn the engine on doesn't mean I put it in gear. It does mean I made sure the engine will be there if I need it.

I am not embarrassed by that, and it does not reflect badly on me. It means that I respect the amount of experience both do and don't have. I'm ready to stretch myself, but I have a safety net.

The OP has concerns about thunderstorms, and having seen quite a few in Florisa I think he is wise to take them seriously. If someone is is such a fabulous sailor that no storm is ever even a little intimidating, then he can ignore this discussion. It doesn't match with his sailing anyway.

I live near Nik Wallenda. He made the point the other day that you never stop practicing, that his grandfather died in his seventies, certainly with plenty of high-wire walking experience.

I've told this story before but I'll mention it again. I know someone who is only alive because he wrapped his tether around the mast while reefing his boat just one of those "harmless" storms hit. Wrapping it around the mast shortened it enough.

A gust of wind knocked the boat over, and he went through the life lines to his waist before the tether pulled him back. We just heard another tell the story of his boat being knocked over so far that the spreaders touched the water. Someone else said that the storms can routinely have gusts of 50 mph.

My neighbor whose tether saved him sailed with that storm for five hours, driven south. This took a high degree of seamanship on his part because the coast south of here is extremely shallow in some places.

When his feet were in the water and the tether was pulling him back up, he was in a survival situation.

One doesn't have to be caught in a typhoon to judge a storm to be worthy of one's respect.

YMMV, but this thread is for people who have concerns about coastal thunderstorms, and I think it's a wise concern.
Raku, next time you encounter one of these, just put away the mainsail and let out about 20% of your jib. Head downwind when the storm hits, not DDW, but about 25-30 degrees off of DDW. Don't bother with the engine. If you don't have enough sea room for that, then heave to with the main on the deepest reef. Not only will it not be scary, I'm willing to bet you will enjoy it. Your boat will track like an arrow with the mainsail gone, and a little boat like yours will surf like a demon. Pretty soon you'll start chasing those t-storms on purpose

You will find that these storms are entirely harmless, if you are in a reasonable posture when they hit. 50, 60, or even 70 knots of wind for a short period of time and/or localized is incapable of doing anything dangerous to you unless you are on the wrong point of sail with too much sail up (and even then, the worst thing that can happen is a knock-down, with some broken plates below). You are not doing yourself any favors by psyching yourself out thinking that these are "survival conditions". They are not even challenging conditions, much less survival conditions.

P.S. -- be ready for the wind shift as the squall blows over. Change course to stay on the same point of sail until the wind abates. Then continue on your way.
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Old 17-06-2013, 04:15   #30
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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Originally Posted by SailFastTri View Post
In the Chesapeake you can be hit with severe squalls and intense lighting. My home waters are Long Island Sound, where we also get these. Some can pack initial gusts of up to 70+ mph that will knock your boat flat or flip a multihull... So when I see a severe storm coming I drop and secure all sails and start the engine, secure all loose deck gear, make sure dinghy is well tied, close hatches. Spare electronics, laptops etc. are placed in the oven. Foul weather gear and PFDs are donned ahead of the temperature drop, by all crew.

In your situation, only a few miles from shore in shallow water it might be a good tactic to head even closer/shallower and anchor. But that's a judgment call based on you situation and crew.
Anchor out off the E coast of Florida in a t-storm coming out of the east?

I think the usual rule for bad weather applies here -- get as far out to sea as you can, if you can't make it into a sheltered haven. The worst place to be is near a lee shore.
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