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Old 17-06-2013, 04:50   #31
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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?
Have a little experience in this neighborhood (see profile)...

Option #1 play dodge the storm. Many S Fla squalls are small enough you can sail away from them and then behind them.

Option #2 double reef main before storm hits and be ready to roll up foresail.

Option #3 Iron Jenny

Under all options be out at least 2 miles, vessel secured and clipped in.
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Old 17-06-2013, 04:50   #32
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

Some interesting advice in some replies that I dont do, and wouldnt do under most circumstances...

Heading offshore, ie changing course; running downwind with a squall.

1) Heading off shore. Yes the OPs 20 feet deep is shallow but for some areas thats standard and if you are sailing theres no getting around is... for example the Bahamas. On a 5 mile passage you are not going to deviate 300 miles to keep in deep water.
Best imho to keep course as thunderstorms etc are over quite quickly.
[Edit: Just read Dockheads post. Yes if you are only 3 nms off shore and that shore will be a lee shore then getting further off in a major thunderstorm is an excellent idea! But I wouldnt for a 'normal' convecting cumulus squall. Mind you I doubt Id be within 3nms of any lee shore.]

2) Running off in a squall will prolong the squall as you are trying to keep up with it. Some squals are quite slow moving so a 15 minute high wind may last an hour, or more.
Better to keep course... or if the sails are down and the sea is flat as it can be in squalls as it hasnt time to build is to motor directly up wind.

Squalls can sometimes be avoided. I will steer 20 degrees either side of course for a mile orr so to let one go past.

There was a good photo in this thread that showed a pretty horrible bit of storm coming along. Very difficult to tell without local knowledge what they are in effect. But it did look like one I might dump everything and put on the donk!

As is the one below, attached.
They may look much worse than they are. Get through the first 5 minutes and they can be fine.
But if you do make a bit of a mistake and get hit by something harder than you expect just SLOWLY take your actions: Depower, furl, reef and/or drop.

And if you decide to turn on the engine: Check for lines overboard. That first bit of wind where the boat is put on her ear can sweep anything off the deck and trail near the prop.
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Old 17-06-2013, 05:36   #33
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Some interesting advice in some replies that I dont do, and wouldnt do under most circumstances...


They may look much worse than they are. Get through the first 5 minutes and they can be fine...
Mark,

While I respect your accomplishments and have learned many things from your posts - there is the need for a dissenting opinion.

Having sailed through more S Fla squalls than I care to say, first hand experience shows winds can go from 0-40 kts in seconds. I have had 50 pound kayaks blown down the beach by non-tornadic winds! Therefore, the first 5 minutes can easily result in a knock down. Once in it, there is often no time to make changes. Heading into a squall that is seen to be "healthy" with full sails could lead to trying to reef in at least 40 mph winds and visibility measured in feet. From experience and as a single hander, it is prudent to prepare for fronts like the one you photographed to be thoroughly obnoxious. If the clouds are well behaved, then I just got practice reefing.


Bill
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Old 17-06-2013, 05:39   #34
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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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.
NEVER let anyone tell you that using your engine is bad practice or somehow makes you less of a sailor. On a boat use ALL the available resources.

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Old 17-06-2013, 05:41   #35
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pirate Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

Raku, my comment above was limited to the non-use of the engine.

Dockhead and many others have described how to handle these situations under sail. That's sailing. Hell, Daddle goes looking for them. What he's after is 20+ knots. Fast is fun as they say.

Most of us probably aren't that adventurous, or confident, or even capable but it's skill-building to learn to deal with the weather. Scary as they are knockdowns are not a death sentence.

On edit, reading Dave's comment reminded me that only my last two boats even had an engine. And electronics? Where do ya put 'em if ya don't have a microwave? The religious way to handle this deal is to make that last physical check of spectacles, testicles, wallet, and watch.
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Old 17-06-2013, 05:46   #36
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Some interesting advice in some replies that I dont do, and wouldnt do under most circumstances...

Heading offshore, ie changing course; running downwind with a squall.

1) Heading off shore. Yes the OPs 20 feet deep is shallow but for some areas thats standard and if you are sailing theres no getting around is... for example the Bahamas. On a 5 mile passage you are not going to deviate 300 miles to keep in deep water.
Best imho to keep course as thunderstorms etc are over quite quickly.
[Edit: Just read Dockheads post. Yes if you are only 3 nms off shore and that shore will be a lee shore then getting further off in a major thunderstorm is an excellent idea! But I wouldnt for a 'normal' convecting cumulus squall. Mind you I doubt Id be within 3nms of any lee shore.]

2) Running off in a squall will prolong the squall as you are trying to keep up with it. Some squals are quite slow moving so a 15 minute high wind may last an hour, or more.
Better to keep course... or if the sails are down and the sea is flat as it can be in squalls as it hasnt time to build is to motor directly up wind.

Squalls can sometimes be avoided. I will steer 20 degrees either side of course for a mile orr so to let one go past.

There was a good photo in this thread that showed a pretty horrible bit of storm coming along. Very difficult to tell without local knowledge what they are in effect. But it did look like one I might dump everything and put on the donk!

As is the one below, attached.
They may look much worse than they are. Get through the first 5 minutes and they can be fine.
But if you do make a bit of a mistake and get hit by something harder than you expect just SLOWLY take your actions: Depower, furl, reef and/or drop.

And if you decide to turn on the engine: Check for lines overboard. That first bit of wind where the boat is put on her ear can sweep anything off the deck and trail near the prop.
Very good advice about lines in the water!


Also very good advice about avoiding t-storms. Here radar really earns its keep. You can see the storm cells on radar and track their path, and you can often avoid them almost like you'd avoid a ship. Florida heat-generated t-storms are rarely more than a couple miles across, and rarely last for more than 30 minutes.

As to running off in a squall -- indeed a disadvantage of running off as a storm tactic in anything is that it sometimes keeps you in the squall longer. But it is so comfortable that this generally doesn't matter. The kind of t-storm we're talking about doesn't generally last more than 30 minutes anyway before it dissipates. Besides that, the apparent wind does not usually correspond to the direction of travel of the cell -- the strong winds are caused by downdrafts and so go off in different directions when the downdrafts hit the surface.
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Old 17-06-2013, 05:46   #37
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Try sailing at night in squalls. Some you can smell. Others warn with raindrops or paint on the radar. A few might be heard coming. Others simply pounce from nowhere. Reefing 60 seconds too late is a good skill to hone.
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Old 17-06-2013, 05:50   #38
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

the scary part is the lightning, but that is easily overcome--i have been afraid of lightning since i first nearly was hit at age 3....but i was able to overcome this and SAIL thru these--even off apalachicola in severe t-storms buoy to buoy---was severely nasty but as we surfed into apalachicola on 6 ft seas, we whewed a lot and were safe---they are more scary than anything---most of the lightning was cloud to cloud with a jolt occasionally to keep us honest--the cat was mortified...

btw--noaa categorizes these t boomers as severe for winds to 71 kts and extreme for winds 80-100 kts, we soon learned.....we ran from the extreme and sailed the severe.....but, as i said earlier, the storms only form to 60 miles off coast..sail farther out to avoid them. keep away from coast line for smoother ride, and fewer large boxy seas. those will hurt ye..we lost the nav lites in that ft myers beach area in large boxy seas.


at night, is wicked--the lightning is bizzarre...we had to make sure our main was already down and flaked when night fell....and pooping seas in gom are a surprise---he had those--were only 8 ft height, but the confused aspect of gom seas in storms is a particular one for gom....
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Old 17-06-2013, 05:54   #39
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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NEVER let anyone tell you that using your engine is bad practice or somehow makes you less of a sailor. On a boat use ALL the available resources.

Dave
Of course. For the record, I always use my engine if I feel like it for any reason. If it simplifies your job during bad weather, then by all means use the engine.

If you have sea room to run off, you will be more comfortable and much more stable sailing under headsail alone. That is because the center of pressure of just the deeply reefed headsail is way out at the bow, making your boat resemble an arrow. This posture won't give you enough drive to go in normal conditions, but in a gale of wind this will not be a problem. The easiest, most fool-proof, and most stable configuration in a sloop-rigged sailboat is sailing downwind under headsail alone in a wind strong enough to keep way on like that.

If you can't or don't want for some reason to run off or heave to, then I do agree with MarkJ that it's best to put on the engine. If, for example, for some reason you need to hold the boat's head into the wind, or if that's the only way you have sea room. Downside is that in the kind of short chop usually kicked up in short t-storms, muck can get stirred up in your fuel tank, making you vulnerable to the engine going off at the worst possible time.
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Old 17-06-2013, 05:59   #40
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

Oh yea watching your dinghy circling in mid air on the end of the painter is NOT cool but at that point all you can do is be glad it does not have the outboard on it and hope the attachment points hold out!
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Old 17-06-2013, 06:01   #41
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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Try sailing at night in squalls. Some you can smell. Others warn with raindrops or paint on the radar. A few might be heard coming. Others simply pounce from nowhere. Reefing 60 seconds too late is a good skill to hone.
Nothing 'pounces' from nowhere, There is always plenty of time to reef or sail conservatively , as you see the conditions develop, reefing in a gail is poor seamanship. ( yes its a skill , but so is getting into a life-raft).

People , especially go faster merchants , tend to carry too much sail, yet even after reefing , the boat is still close to hull speed. You are not racing, there is nothing to be accomplished by pushing the boat ,yourself or your luck, Your goal is to have an enjoyable cruise and arrive in one piece with everyone and everything intact.

IN my club racing is described as go-out->shout-> break things-> write cheques-> drink -> go-out......

I would agree with MarkJ, many squalls and T_storms can be avoided, radar is useful to track them.

I find it hard to beleive one poster who said T-storm caused a knockdown, never seen it, ( not what I regard as a knockdown), it only happens to the over canvassed.

Quote:
Scary as they are knockdowns are not a death sentence.
No they are not, but they are entirely avoidable where seas arnt big, knockdowns can result in serious equipment damage, crew injuries and general dis-commotion . Avoid them , certainly dont get complacent about them ( and try not to expose SWMBO to one ok).

dave
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Old 17-06-2013, 06:02   #42
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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but in a gale of wind this will not be a problem. The easiest, most fool-proof, and most stable configuration in a sloop-rigged sailboat is sailing downwind under headsail alone in a wind strong enough to keep way on like that.
I agree, I prefer to run wind wind from the stern quarter though , (a) its takes me out of the path and (b) the boat is more stable
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Old 17-06-2013, 06:02   #43
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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Just wondering .....

Will your boat melt when she hits the rain?
Will she explode when the thunder storm passing above her?
Nah, I realize it won't. Bringing her down from JAX, we were in the rain every leg of the trip. It was actually a welcome change from the heat, we didn't mind it at all.

I suppose my biggest concern is the lightning. The rain isn't bothersome, the wind can be dealt with in a variety of ways mentioned here, but getting struck kindof freaks me out, especially since 30-some percent of strikes happen in FL.
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Old 17-06-2013, 06:03   #44
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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but getting struck kindof freaks me out, especially since 30-some percent of strikes happen in FL.
good statistic, means the rest of us are nice and safe in our T-Storms!!
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Old 17-06-2013, 06:07   #45
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Re: Thunderstorm while coastal cruising. What do you do?

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good statistic, means the rest of us are nice and safe in our T-Storms!!
Fair enough I wasn't necessarily trying to indicate that other areas are less prone, just that the risk of being struck in FL is high.

I don't remember where I read that stat (BoatUS maybe?), but my initial thought was that it was true simply because of the higher concentration of sailors combined with the FL weather patterns.
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