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Old 07-07-2006, 04:25   #16
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Experience is a great instructor - except that you only get the lesson, after the examination. I’ve become steadily more conservative in my choices, and certainly more respectful of the weather over the decades I’ve been sailing.

We’ve been anchored in several violent storms (56-63 kt), sailed through several gales (34-40 kt), and at least two severe gales (31-47 kt).

In the mid eighties, we sailed (engineless) from the Slate Islands to Rossport (Lake Superior) in a “foggy” severe gale. The 45 kt winds bent our reaching strut, which took me over ½ hour to retrieve. Our Mirage 26 surfed a 30 nm+ broad reach in about 4 hours (well above hull-speed). It was quite odd to experience such high winds and fog.

Tropical Storm Danielle (September 1992) caught us anchored at Sandy Hook (60 kt gusts), NJ. It took about an hour to lay an anchor for a neighbouring boat - had to tack my 10' Zodiac /w 5HP O/B into the 50 kt winds.

The Storm of the Century (March 1993) provoked an abandon-ship exercise, when we blew out the headsail & our engine seized* as we attempted to escape Governor’s Harbour, Eleuthera. Three anchors out, and we were dragging to the rocks. The driving drain (60 kts, gusting higher) actually hurt my body, and we’ve kept a pair of speedo swimming goggles hanging at the helm, ever since. Huge waves (15 Ft?) & breakers within the harbour.
*(engine overheated, when we picked up a stick in our raw water intake)

Nearly outran another severe gale, en route Chub Cay to Nassau, Bahamas. Departed Cat Cay (early AM), knowing there was “weather” coming off Florida, and had a good daylight run to Chub. I decided it wouldn’t be very comfortable anchored around Chub, so turned right proceeding on to Nassau (roughly another 35 nm). It was an exciting night, with several “scares” that we were about to be pooped. I’m normally pretty taciturn in grave situations, but (on one particularly harrowing upsurge*) I exclaimed “ohhhh shit”, and Maggie (down below) interpreted my unusual outburst to mean we were about to die.
In retrospect, I’m not certain that the determination to press on (rather than anchor) was a misjudgement; but the original decision to depart Cat Cay was certainly “impetuous” (if not downright foolish). In my defense, we had previously been caught in a major blow at Cat, and hadn’t enjoyed it one bit (Christmas of 93 or 94, when several other boats were severely damaged, and two “lost”).
*(BIG water is particularly harrowing on dark nights, when you feel the upsurge much earlier than you actually see the [breaking] wave)

I’ll agree that Lake Erie can be a very nasty “little pond”. I suspect that our 1992 crossing was more uncomfortable, for longer time, than any of the above tales. Those square 4 foot “ankle-biters” seem to slam you from all 4 directions.

FWIW:
Wind force varies as the SQUARE of wind velocity - hence doubling wind speed quadruples wind force (a doubling of force only requires a 41.4% increase in windspeed). Hence, a “Gale” is nearly twice as powerful as a “Near Gale”, and a “Severe Gale” has nearly triple the force.
Anyone who has tried handling sails, anchor/dock lines (and the like) in a 30 kt blow (near gale) can attest to the fact that this is near their absolute limit of performance. Increasing the windspeed to 40 kts results in a totally unmanageable doubling of our workload.
Anticipate increasing winds - and act early!
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Old 07-07-2006, 10:46   #17
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I'd tell you the worst storm I was in, which was when I was in the Navy on a Canadian destroyer; however I was to busy staring at the bottom of a bucket or looking into a black garbage bag. As an old salt said to me: "Young man, eat bananas! They taste just as good coming up as they did going down."
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Old 07-07-2006, 12:02   #18
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rsn48 dates himself by describing black garbage bags - the Cdn Navy now uses (rather cruelly) clear garbage bags. Nothing like seeing the contents of your shipmates' stomachs to induce the urge. I fortunately am not so susceptible to motion sickness (maybe that should be 'unfortuantely' as it results in standing more watches). Memory is a bit fuzzy, but I've seen the anemometer needle buried (IIRC it tops out at 70 or 80 knots) on a frigate/destroyer and on another had the anemometer blown right off the mast. Since the height of eye on the bridge was 40 foot and I had to look way up to see the crests of the waves, I'm guessing the highest seas I've been in were 60 ft (combined swell and wave). On terms of scale though, I don't think it quite compares with the others' experiences in little boats - my hat is off to you all.

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Old 07-07-2006, 13:15   #19
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Hee hee - one of my favorite true sea-stories (yeah I know - they're ALL true...) was the time I went up to relieve the watch during a transit from Subic Bay Phillipines to Hong Kong.

Mind you we were on a 600ft 20,000 ton vessel, but it was pretty nasty out and the old round-bottomed gal was producing quite the uncomfortable motion. I entered the bridge to find nearly all watchstanders green around the gills and equipped with clear plastic trashbags hooked on their belts.

Mmm - mmm, what IS that funky smell ??! Had to wait 3 different times during our watch turnover discussion while the off-going officer of the deck ran to the rail to feed the fishies. I had to crack open a porthole and stick my head in the fresh air to avoid becoming a sympathy-puker myself

Glad I wasn't bobbing around in a 30ft boat during that one...

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Old 07-07-2006, 15:05   #20
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shallow water will pile the seas up so the distance between waves is a lot shorter and the wave faces a lot steeper, Open ocean is easy even with much bigger waves cause the impact on the booat is nowhere near as bad.
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Old 07-07-2006, 15:40   #21
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You guys do some looooooooong trips out in that Bluewater! I never forget the time in LAKE ERIE when my dad had his Abbott 33 there in sanddusky we had a ok day of sailing that day it was just me and him, we where packing up to go home we just folded all the sails, and took the trash off walking down the Dock with the cooler and from a distance we saw a Storm a Brewing all the motor boats were headed in and the rest of the sailors that were trying to get in before it hit.. (My dad was a crazy man) we looked at each other and said at the same time do you want to go back out?

So we turned around and went back to the boat then we sailed out of our slip and headed towards the Storm! Everyone that past us was looking at us like we could not see what was in fron of us!
We had a reef in the main and the self tacker up, all I had to do was work the backstays we were going to weather going out and the boat was like cutting through the waves up and down we past cedar point and went almost to Kellys Island and turned around! On the way back we were on a Reach all the way back to the slip I remeber reading 10 knots and looking behind us we were making a least a 7 foot wave the boat was leand over but a good lean the boat was creaking and humming it was awesome I will never for ge that feeling.... I say it was atleast 40 knots of wind, but there was nobody out there but us! It was just a very nice Ride!
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Old 08-07-2006, 15:19   #22
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The worst we had was in Moreton Bay. We were on the pick near the botanical gardens on the Brisbane river. I called the weather service early AM for a forecast and got a dire warning so stayed put. It turned out to be a lovely day with excellent breeze! Same thing next AM. Turned out once again to be a great day. Talked to a french boat that had sailed in and they were smiling big, great sail in. #^%$#$@%&* THIRD AM!!! I called them up, got the same bullshit, figured it for rubbish so went out anyway. On our way out it turned grey and the wind came up just as we got in the middle of the bay. We were heading south to Canipa passage when it hit worst. Shallow channels, shoals all around looking for beacons and we couldn't hardly see the bow. Salt stinging our eyes. There was no surface to the water, just a large layer of blowing spray with big hard lumps hidden in it. The sea stood up hard and fast in depths only about 30 feet. On the nose BTW, we motored into it. Made for the town of Dunwhich on one of the islands to take a break and get our vision back! Anchored in the channel as only place available but couldn't stay. Got out again and made it to the shelter of the passage where we anchored off the yacht squadron at Russel island and sat it out for three days. No sun for our solar panels so unleashed our POS rutland windmill and made 7 amps continuous. The noise from it was horrendous. I have never seen that much power out it sinse! Our rode was like a giutar string the whole time and I had spare anchor and rode on the cat head waiting in case but never budged. I learned to trust my ground tackle!
We didn't have wind instruments but the report from cape morton near us reported 50+

They were right about the what, but the dickheads were wrong about the when!!! Thus I learned not to trust the BOM. Kay sticks here head out to look at what the birds are doing for a better result than the gov weather guys.

This was our first voyage.
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Old 08-07-2006, 20:07   #23
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I remember a fantastic sketch done by a famouse name, but can't remember who. It was a scene of a small english country pub. All around the room sitting at tables, were old gents all telling fishing yarns. Each had their arms out and ever increasing lengths. Another character is shown bursting into the room through the door with one arm held out and the other holding out a broom handle with a clove on the end of it.

The comment about the wave heights and depth and so on, yeah I can atest to that. I grew up beside a large lack. It was a landlocked from the sea backup basicaly. The deepest part was only 6ft. I used to sail a paper tiger on it. But when a good blow came in off the sea, the lake became a very different and extremely dangerouse place. You would get a wave on top that was very steep and very short and only about 3 to 4ft. If you had an open boat, the chp was just enough to let your gunnel drop and the next wave came straight in and swamped you. Once in the water, you simply couldn't keep your head above the chop. A very big eel fishing community lived and worked there, but many fishermen lost there lives over the years.

The only other story I have, was once again on someone elses boat. It doesn't seem to worry me when it's someone elses. But anyway's, it was a test for a very large inflatable vessel with alloy hull that was 40ft in size. It could take a lot of passengers and was designed to take on some ruff sea's for Whale watching here in NZ. The boat was goign for it's first open water test and had to make all sorts of tests. Like stability when the hull was full of water and ruff sea handling and so on. It was a twin deck job as well and we had to see how stable it would be if everyone came running up on top and so on. Well, the guy poked the nose of the thing out into 40ft sea's in Cook straight. I have never seen waves so intimidating. It never worried me at all, but if it was me in my boat, I am sure I would be looking for a change of underwear.
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Old 08-07-2006, 20:10   #24
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Actually, I would like to kinda bend this thread a little. Gord touched on it. Being in a big sea in daylight is one thing, but at night when it's darker than a black hole, it must be a very different matter. So how the heck do you handle large seas at night when you can't see.
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Old 08-07-2006, 20:31   #25
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you don't "handle" 'em; you "take" 'em

you're right, it throws all the theories out the port hole.
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Old 09-07-2006, 00:30   #26
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Mudnut.

The word "kamikaze" means "divine wind" in Japanese. The Japanese fighter pilots during WW2 used this term for their suicide missions, during the end of WW2. Thus the word stuck for numerous reasons til this day.


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Old 09-07-2006, 00:42   #27
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I was at anchor in Resolution Bay in the Sounds last year when a 50 knot storm hit. Had to move to another bay as the wind was blowing straight into the Bay. Passed through three "williwars". These are small water spouts where the wind whips the sea up. The Sounds are quite narrow and so the waves were not too high. Have been across the Cook Strait in 35 knots with 5 metre swells and also some pretty amazing stuff on the Interislander ferry.
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Old 09-07-2006, 01:22   #28
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Darryl, is the Mana entrance well sheltered? or like, how the heck do you get across that bar when the straight is ruff???
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Old 09-07-2006, 01:32   #29
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There was a good N swell over it today. Went across in my mates Marauder. It is sheltered from Southerly and True Northerly but gets a big NW swell breaking over it. It gives you something to worry about when you get over the strait. We try to time our trip with high tide Mana. I hit the bar 2 and a half hours after high tide a few months back. Luckily it was a calm day. Managed to power through it. It is just soft sand. Would do some damage if you got stuck on it in a strong swell though. I saw a boat a few months back (metal one) that got stuck and the rudder ripped through the hull like a sardine can. Bugger all shelter and it goes to 1.4 metres deep at low tide.
A real bastard of a thing really.
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Old 09-07-2006, 01:36   #30
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I try to only go over it 3 hours before or two after high tide. At least before the tide is coming in. If you got stuck after there would be a long time to wait and lots of damage. I have seen guys sitting on the end of their booms trying to tilt the keel to get off. Also a sand build up at the entrance to mana marina. A few months back it had less water over it than the bar. They have dredged it again but it builds up quite fast.
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