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Old 14-04-2008, 14:46   #1
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Sudden Wind Gusts

OK I'm sold on Cats but I'm concerned about the sudden severe wind I experienced walking on the beach in Naples FL last month. Sunny day light breeze scattered clouds when seemingly out of nowhere a wind hit me that forced me to turn around and simply brace myself for a good 15 to 20 seconds. Long enough for me to try to turn around and attempt to make some headway and simply could not. I am 48 and in excellent physical health. I swear I had absolutely no warning, maybe 3 seconds, that a cloud of stinging sand was coming my way. Presumably an alert pilot, undistracted by beach scenery, would have more warning? Are the weather reports accurate enough to reef your sails by? Tell me I won't get knocked over in a 40' cruising cat, even if I have a little too much sail up when this happens?? I am not looking for a rehash of mono vs. multi, just some feedback on what happens when you're sailing a big cat and get smacked...
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Old 14-04-2008, 15:17   #2
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Gusts happen

And they don't discriminate. I have no experience sailing cruising catamarans. But I have experienced sudden, extreme, transient winds on a monohull. Iíve never been knocked down on a cruising boat, but Iíve gone from 15 deg. heel to 50 with no apparent warning. A monohull will (hopefully) recover and round up. A cat probably side slips - dunno.

In the Caribbean we pretty much had a permanent reef in the mainsail. Comfort and safety were far more important to us than speed.
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Old 14-04-2008, 15:39   #3
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I know those gusts. I was sailling in FL at the time. The were irritating as can be for me because I couldn't predict them. Just like you said... not nearly enough wind to sail, then all of a sudden, WHAM! and you were pushed like crazy.

I had all canvas up during that episode (and a couple others like it). I am on a small, 34' (10M) catamaran. Luckily, my cat is underpowered and just side slips a little when that kind of gust comes up.

I guess maybe this is why some cats are designed for speed and crews, while others are designed to plod along and require less of a "fine touch."

I'm still not sure which is better though... so not knocking the fast speedy cats. I'd often prefer one of those types. During that gusty stuff, I was pretty happy with the one I have.

The gusts didn't feel like they would cause any problem. I heeled maybe a few degrees (5?) from them? The cat stiffens up very quickly as it starts to get pushed around.
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Old 14-04-2008, 16:32   #4
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Why would'nt you just round up? Few gusts come without warning. You can see the water boil as it's coming.

I would think the danger is when your running straight down wind. What I have wondered is why cats don't have running back stays? Seems you could put them all the way back on the inner hulls.
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Old 14-04-2008, 16:47   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rigamarole View Post
Why would'nt you just round up?
Cuz you're in a restricted channel and don't have the searoom.

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Few gusts come without warning. You can see the water boil as it's coming.
Same as above... in my case I couldn't see anything "boil", there was no warning and I have been in many of these over the years, not just in FL. They are in a lot of locales.

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I would think the danger is when your running straight down wind. What I have wondered is why cats don't have running back stays? Seems you could put them all the way back on the inner hulls.
Not sure... they seem to handle the gusts ok... or at least mine does.
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Old 14-04-2008, 17:20   #6
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If your in an area that this is a regular occurance you must be more vigilant....bottom line is no matter mono or multi...you should always have someone in a position of controlling such an event...A single strong gust in normal sailing conditions should not flip a 40' cruising cat. in our experience with our (almost 40') cat an unexpected gust has never put us out of control.....and usually this has meant a change in conditions is on the way and I will quickly reef her down to be on the safe side...
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Old 14-04-2008, 17:39   #7
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If you're in a restricted channel and get hit with a big gust, it's probably better to just dump sheets (even if it looks messy) than risk capsize, grounding or collision because you don't want to look messy...

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Old 14-04-2008, 18:49   #8
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Wind gusts were never a problem for us when sailing offshore. We could always see the thunderstorms, feel the cool downdrafts, and see the roll clouds before we experienced their full force. Even at night, radar showed us where the squalls were, and we had an approriate amount of sail up for the prevailing conditions.

Wind gusts near land are an entirely different matter. They can come in like gangbusters seemingly out of nowhere. There are lots of wind acceleration zones near land that can cause big problems, and land masses change all the rules.

Whenever we sail near land in unsettled weather, we sail more conservatively. When we sail offshore, we watch the weather/clouds carefully and we have never had a problem. Our scarriest moments have always been close to land.
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Old 14-04-2008, 19:30   #9
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"Whenever we sail near land in unsettled weather, we sail more conservatively. When we sail offshore, we watch the weather/clouds carefully and we have never had a problem. Our scarriest moments have always been close to land."


I once had a zero to 40knots back to zero wind experience while crossing the Sea of Cortez.
It was late afternoon, and I was out in the middle, at least 30 miles from the closest land. The whole thing lasted less than 5 minutes.


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Old 14-04-2008, 20:12   #10
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For me, sailing offshore means futher than 200 miles from land.

When the wind is blowing sixty knots, it can reach thirty miles offshore in half an hour, and with nothing to divert the wind, you can get blasted easily within thirty miles of shore by a land-based event.

I have been thirty miles offshore in a wind acceleration zone (North East Corner of Bali) and had my socks blown off.

I know of a Privilege 39 charter catamaran flipped by land-based gusts off the Pitons in southern St. Lucia.

Even offshore, there are clear air microbursts that can take you out without warning, but I have never experienced one or known anyone who had to deal with one. I have only read about such things in sailing magazines.
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Old 14-04-2008, 23:43   #11
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Multi hulls should fall off in gusts, not round up. Heading off allows them to accelerate decreasing the relative wind and heeling moment. Just the opposite of lead mines.

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Old 15-04-2008, 02:13   #12
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Multi hulls should fall off in gusts, not round up. Heading off allows them to accelerate decreasing the relative wind and heeling moment. Just the opposite of lead mines.

Aloha
Peter O.
From what I have read is that if you are sailing at about 80/85 degrees off the wind you should round up but if you are at about 95/100 degrees you should bear away, in the middle your choice, I suppose depending on the sea state, gust, your knowledge of your own boat and your own experience.
If I am wrong, I wait to ber corrected.
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Old 15-04-2008, 06:01   #13
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Dave, do you hand steer when near land? When do you feel its prudent to disengage the AP?

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For me, sailing offshore means futher than 200 miles from land.

When the wind is blowing sixty knots, it can reach thirty miles offshore in half an hour, and with nothing to divert the wind, you can get blasted easily within thirty miles of shore by a land-based event.

I have been thirty miles offshore in a wind acceleration zone (North East Corner of Bali) and had my socks blown off.

I know of a Privilege 39 charter catamaran flipped by land-based gusts off the Pitons in southern St. Lucia.

Even offshore, there are clear air microbursts that can take you out without warning, but I have never experienced one or known anyone who had to deal with one. I have only read about such things in sailing magazines.
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Old 15-04-2008, 06:27   #14
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A “gust” is a sudden, significant increase in wind speed, usually lasting less than twenty seconds.

Gusts lasting significantly longer than 20 seconds are usually called “squalls”.

A squall is usually tied to active weather, like thunderstorms, where there is a sudden increase in wind speeds associated with updrafts and downdrafts.
Shelf clouds and roll clouds are usually seen above the leading edge of a squall line (thunderstorm gust front). These clouds often appear about 15 minutes (approximately) prior to the arrival of gusts and squalls.

Roll & Shelf Clouds:
Roll Cloud vs. Shelf Cloud- Weathersavvy

FWIW, Check out this interesting site:

Names of Winds:
Wind Names
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Old 15-04-2008, 07:14   #15
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White Squalls

When you get a windstorm without the normal black clouds, it's called a "White Squall". The 137' schooner Pride of Baltimore was overwhelmed and sunk by a white squall in 1986, with loss of life.

I experienced one when approaching the Tobago Cays. The wind kicked up from 15 kts to 40 kts in seconds, in sunny conditions with just the normal puffy cumulus clouds in the sky. I could see it coming across the water, whipping the surface into froth. I managed to get the genoa in, and was reefing the main when it hit. Shook the hell out of the boat! It only lasted about 15 minutes.

Excerpt from Wikipedia:


"A white squall is sudden and violent windstorm phenomenon at sea which is not accompanied by the black clouds generally characteristic of a squall. The name refers to the white-capped waves and broken water, its meager warning to any unlucky seaman caught in its path. White squalls are rare at sea, but common on the Great Lakes of North America.
A white squall is the culprit of many sea stories and blamed for quite a few tragedies. It is described as a sudden increase in wind velocity in tropical ansurface of the water, but usually they appear out of nowhere."
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