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Old 21-06-2014, 20:27   #16
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Re: How far out to sea is safe in a hurricane?

The original poster might want to rephrase his or her question to ask about the kinds of bad weather that can happen suddenly, such as outflow winds from thunderstorms, squalls near thunder clouds, sudden thunderstorms, etc.

As I more or less understand things; this isn't particularly scientific:

Some parts of the world have unusual winds such as pamperos off the eastern coast of South America, or the "white squall" that helped sink a sail training vessel. While some of these may happen quickly, usually there's some indication of unsettled conditions that may give rise to them, and a careful sailor can very often take steps to prepare, watch out, and often avoid this rough stuff.

There are also intermediate sorts of storms, like high winds associated with passing frontal systems or the arrival of a "noreaster". These usually are forecast hours to sometimes days in advance, but the timing of their passage may not be exactly known, especially if you don't pay very close attention to weather forecasts.

A hurricane is a very specific, powerful storm that starts in the tropics, rotates around an "eye", and has * sustained * winds of 74 mph or more. They are ranked on a scale of 1 to 5 (equivalent to Beaufort force 12 to 16), but even a cat 1 can easily be life-threatening to recreational sailors, even on larger, well-prepared, and strongly built boats. While some Atlantic hurricanes might form in mid-ocean or near the Caribbean, it's more common for them to start as tropical disturbances off the coast of West Africa and be tracked for an extended period of days or weeks. In the Orient/western Pacific or the Indian Ocean, the equivalent of a hurricane is called a typhoon.

Cheap weather radios are easy to find, and weather info is broadcast on VHF radio weather channels in most areas near population centers. Huge amounts of weather info are available on the internet. Sailors far out in the ocean can use long-distance radios (single sideband high/medium-frequency or amateur radio, for example), satellite phones, and other equipment to monitor weather details from anywhere, and can even use weather routing services to avoid storms but find the best weather conditions to make progress on their voyage. And classic books such as Jimmy Cornell's World Cruising Routes and its cousins can help people plan voyages to occur when and where conditions are most likely to smile upon their trip.
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Old 21-06-2014, 20:55   #17
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Re: How far out to sea is safe in a hurricane?

OK, focus on sudden storms and forget the hurricane terminology.

A few points.

Yes there is a chance of very strong winds that can come up suddenly and with minimum warning. Sumer thunderstorms off the FL coast is one possibility. The conditions for development are well known and forecast but sometimes they can be much stronger than expected.

However, most quickly appearing, strong winds tend to be short lived (yes I know there are exceptions) and will not be around long enough to build large, dangerous seas. So drop sails, batten down and ride it out. If the winds persist and seas do start building then time to use a drogue or sea anchor as the boat, conditions and available gear allow.

If off a lee shore depends. Is there access to a harbor with a safe entrance for the conditions? If not, definitely time to reduce your drift as much as possible.
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Old 21-06-2014, 20:57   #18
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Re: How far out to sea is safe in a hurricane?

Good points rgscpat, but it is not uncommon for Tropical Storms to make dramatic changes and mariners who were relying on info 36hrs old.... Can get caught.

It happens often in the Philippines where a Typhoon becomes "Irregular" and many get caught offgaurd by assuming regular tracks and even assume it has past, when it is doing circles off the East Coast.....(waiting to pounce)

Becoming your own weather forecaster and understanding the signs is the best defence if weather updates are limited
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Old 21-06-2014, 22:52   #19
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Re: How far out to sea is safe in a hurricane?

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Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
60 miles can be a long way in rough seas.... If caught... Better to focus getting out of the danger sector and if you have had no weather reports... try and remember
.....Buys Ballots Law
That's the niftiest two-minute weather lesson I've ever seen. Thanks for the share Pelagic!
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Old 22-06-2014, 18:08   #20
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Re: How far out to sea is safe in a hurricane?

Are you people really that damp that you can't tell when your leg is being pulled ?
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Old 22-06-2014, 19:00   #21
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Re: How far out to sea is safe in a hurricane?

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Originally Posted by Mike Vogdes View Post
Are you people really that damp that you can't tell when your leg is being pulled ?
Funny, I don't feel damp at all. It did rain here today but I managed to stay pretty dry.

Did you ever stop to think that there are all sorts of members on the forum? Some have years and miles at sea and some new to the sport and trying to learn.
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Old 22-06-2014, 19:33   #22
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Re: How far out to sea is safe in a hurricane?

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Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
60 miles can be a long way in rough seas.... If caught... Better to focus getting out of the danger sector and if you have had no weather reports... try and remember
.....Buys Ballots Law


Guidelines for Avoiding Hurricanes at Sea by Tenebris | Sciences 360
If you can't find the video, just remember:

The boy stood on the burning deck, as naked as a mast pole;
He knew the low was on his left, 'cause the wind blew up his ...


Childish, yes. Vulgar, yes. But, much like the old captain who told me that fifty years ago, hard to forget.
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Old 22-06-2014, 20:27   #23
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Re: How far out to sea is safe in a hurricane?

A couple of years ago, I was watching the Cairns, Queensland rain radar on Xmas eve, and noticed a circulation about 30NM offshore, and said to my wife it looked unusual considering the forecast was for light winds and isolated showers for the night and the following day.

We got the covers down and got prepared, just in case.

We were awoken at about 3am Xmas day to 50knt winds, stronger gusts, and belting rain. We were right on the edge of a Category 1 cyclone that had formed in all of about 6 or 7 hours. We were tucked into our berth in the marina, but there was a bit of damage to other boats with ripped headsails and biminis etc, even a few broken mooring lines. The only reason we even knew that something was brewing was the fact that just before we turned the computer off we decided to see if there was any rain on the way. The rest of Cairns woke to a completely unforecasted event.

My point being that even in these times with all the modern equipment, severe weather events can still happen without warning, so I don't think the original question is too bad IMO.
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Old 19-07-2014, 20:36   #24
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Re: How far out to sea is safe in a hurricane?

Hurricanes and Typhoons are seriously dangerous for any vessel (boat or ship).

One of the most notorious incidents of WW2 naval history happened during Typhoon Cobra.

Three US Navy Destroyers were sunk during the typhoon and 790 lives lost!

It is an incredible story. I am posting a link to the wikipedia article and highly recommend reading it.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoon_Cobra_(1944)

A few facts:

1. One of the officers on one of the ships in the fleet was Gerald Ford (former US President).

2. One of the smallest ships (a destroyer escort) was damaged during the storm, but became heroic when it rescued many men who whose ships had sunk (and a man who was lost overboard from another ship). The captain of that ship disobeyed fleet orders (from Admiral Bull Halsey) and continued to search for survivors. That small ship rescued 55 sailors from the stormy seas.

3. Admiral Halsey (who was in command of the fleet) faced a court martial due to the loss of ships and lives. He faced a second court martial when he led the same (renumbered) fleet into another typhoon later (with more damages to ships and loss of lives).

4. Barometric pressures as low as 26.8 inHg (907 mbar) and wind speeds up to 120 kn (140 mph; 220 km/h) in gusts were reported by some ships.

Three US Navy Destroyers were sunk during the typhoon and 790 lives lost!

A sailor who was on one of the ships wrote the novel "The Caine Mutiny" that became a big Hollywood movie (with Bogart).
__________

An earlier Typhoon (as I recall it was 1935) caused significant damage to a Japanese fleet, including cracking ships hulls and tearing off superstructure and bows of ships!
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Old 19-07-2014, 20:46   #25
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Re: How far out to sea is safe in a hurricane?

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Originally Posted by liveaboardL View Post
If there's a hurricane & you're caught 3 miles out, and it's just starting, is it safer to turn around & sail to land & seek a hole, or to sail further out to sea?
I think its important to get back to shore.

The stuff about being better off at sea is balderdash.

Even if you are getting into a bad bay you then have the opition to get ashore.

I had the dificulty of being involved in a Cat 5 hurricane whilst anchored and I lived... But sure as hell I learned that was just luck. If i was offshore i would have been in deeper poop.

Its not worth your life to die. It really isnt.

If you make a mistake and you are close to safety take that option. At least you will be alive at the bar telling stupid stories. No one listens to ghosts.


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Old 19-07-2014, 21:18   #26
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Re: How far out to sea is safe in a hurricane?

You might occasionally hear of large naval vessels vacating certain ports in advance of a hurricane. However, they will leave port many hours (say 48 or more) in advance of the hurricane's expected arrival, and are large ships that are capable of maneuvering at high speed for extended periods and long distances, even in quite bad weather, and travel generally much faster than the advance of the hurricane. This, along with their large, professional crews and sophisticated navigation equipment, gives them options that are utterly unavailable to a small boat crew.
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Old 20-07-2014, 02:57   #27
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Re: How far out to sea is safe in a hurricane?

LiveaboardL,

It's not just the awkwardness of being 60 n. mi. out. The real question is whether the effort to get to port/shelter is likely to be successful. If not, then your best bet is to get the heck out of the least favored semicircle. And if that's not possible either, you gotta know how hurricanes/cyclones tend to track in your area, the idea being to get as far as possible away from the worst winds.

I'm sure you know (or ought to, anyway) the best weather sources in your area, but even WWV has hurricane information you could access by SSB receiver--or at least, they used to. Haven't tried for a while.

In any event, some study should help you.

Ann
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Old 20-07-2014, 03:27   #28
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Re: How far out to sea is safe in a hurricane?

Can I respectfully ask how many posters in this thread have actually been through a hurricane/cyclone/typhoon at sea.(I know at least two that have) All the rest are not capable or qualified of giving any advice at all on a topic that may well cost a life. God save the brave from internet "experts'
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Old 20-07-2014, 03:27   #29
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Re: How far out to sea is safe in a hurricane?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bill352 View Post
If you can't find the video, just remember:

The boy stood on the burning deck, as naked as a mast pole;
He knew the low was on his left, 'cause the wind blew up his ...


Childish, yes. Vulgar, yes. But, much like the old captain who told me that fifty years ago, hard to forget.
There's an important bit of information missing from both the Buys Ballot's Law video shown above and the rhyme...

Buys Ballot's Law is only good in the northern hemisphere. Once you are south of the equator it is 180 degrees out since the lows and highs circulate in opposite direction.
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Old 20-07-2014, 03:29   #30
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Re: How far out to sea is safe in a hurricane?

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Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
LiveaboardL,

It's not just the awkwardness of being 60 n. mi. out. The real question is whether the effort to get to port/shelter is likely to be successful. If not, then your best bet is to get the heck out of the least favored semicircle. And if that's not possible either, you gotta know how hurricanes/cyclones tend to track in your area, the idea being to get as far as possible away from the worst winds.

I'm sure you know (or ought to, anyway) the best weather sources in your area, but even WWV has hurricane information you could access by SSB receiver--or at least, they used to. Haven't tried for a while.

In any event, some study should help you.

Ann
A big +++
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