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Old 25-01-2010, 18:52   #1
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A Squall . . . Is a Squall . . . Is a . . . ?

Greetings,

Does anyone know where I can find authoritative guidelines and safety precautions for the avoidanceconfrontation ... and survival of powered and sailing vessels caught in acute SQUALL situations at sea.


In this context, “squall” refers to: frontal and isolated squalls, squall lines/line squalls, microburst/downdraft events, white squalls, derechos, bulls-eye squalls, etc.

A parallel focus will be to differentiate one from another as some confusion seems to exists here.

Direct assistance ... and promising links ... will be most appreciated.

Many thanks.
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Old 25-01-2010, 19:02   #2
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Bowditch (The American Practical Navigator) is a great reference to use as a starting point.

Bowditch Online

Try chapter 36.
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Old 25-01-2010, 19:22   #3
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Bowditch (The American Practical Navigator) is a great reference to use as a starting point.

Bowditch Online

Try chapter 36.
Bowditch Chapter 36 refers to Tropical Cyclones whereas Chapter 35 refers to Weather Elements, but even that makes no mention of guidelines and sdafety precautions.
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Old 25-01-2010, 20:26   #4
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authoritative guidelines and safety precautions for the avoidance … confrontation ... and survival of powered and sailing vessels caught in acute SQUALL situations at sea.
Avoidance = Stay in port
Confrontation = Sea anchor
Survival = Batten down the hatches and pray the boat you bought is worthy of praise.
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Old 25-01-2010, 22:04   #5
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I never had much trouble with squalls on board Exit Only, our Privilege 39 catamaran. In fact, squalls were easy. 95% of the time we avoided them at sea by simply altering course.

Before I sailed offshore, I remember feeling terrified by the sight of line squalls rushing across the water. They gave me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Once I got offshore, I simply took my sails down and motored on one engine whenever the line squalls came through. It takes less than a minute to drop the mainsail and roll up the genoa when there is really disturbed air bearing down on your yacht. Furling the sails instantly took all the guesswork out of squalls.

I found that radar was the single best tool that I had on board to evaluate thunderstorms and squalls. They show up nicely on radar, and I could plot their track and alter my course so that I rarely was exposed to their full force. I found the radar particularly helpful at night when sailing in unsettled weather. Being able to see the squalls in the darkness using radar is a great asset.

Squalls are much more of problem in areas with restricted maneuvering. I try to avoid those areas when squalls are present, and it generally works. I just have to be patient and sit quietly while the squall passes.

Having a catamaran with two engines makes squalls less of a big deal. A catamaran doesn't heel over when the squall hits. I also have the option of running one or two engine during the squall if I am in an area of restricted maneuvering. I have to admit that I would be much more nervous about squalls if my boat heeled over in the gusts, and if I had only one engine that might not work when I needed it.
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Old 25-01-2010, 23:14   #6
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experience is the best teacher

Get a sound vessel, and ride out a few line squalls in the daylight. Chances are excellent you will survive. If you have no boat or are uncertain of your own, crew on a cruise. You will experience weather...and the uncertainty that all mariners have felt since man went to sea.

Later on, when you start cruising on your own to distant places, you will probably experience real fear (or terror if you let it go that far) and wonder why in the hell you ever put yourself in this position. In the morning, or the next day,the sun will come out and you'll feel much better.
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Old 26-01-2010, 00:51   #7
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Hi Shamrock838,

As you seem to be looking for a reference tool of some sort, a book?

Possibly the very best is published by Adlard Coles and is "Heavy Weather Sailing"

Gives advice on preparation, organisation and survival of heavy weather in sailing, power and multihulls.

A truly excellent book.

Simes
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Old 26-01-2010, 04:04   #8
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I don't know of any reference exclusively for dealing with squalls.

From my experience sailing in the tropics, where squalls can be common, I second Dave's advice. I'd add that when maneuvering to avoid a squall, try to stay away from the front side (the side on the direction in which the squall is moving). That's where the gusts are strongest due to downdrafts, and the chance of micro-bursts exists. The winds on the back side are usually light and variable.

If the squalls weren't too strong and gusty, we'd sail in front of them on purpose to get a lift, and to avoid the dead air behind the cell.
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Old 26-01-2010, 04:16   #9
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Originally Posted by shamrock838 View Post
Greetings,

"authoritative guidelines and safety precautions for the avoidanceconfrontation ... and survival of powered and sailing vessels caught in acute SQUALL situations" .
It does not exist.

I wrote an article in 2006 for cruising world on squalls, http://www.bethandevans.com/pdf/squalls.pdf, and did some research about prior material and there is not so much.

Squalls by definition are short duration. That tends to make them less dangerous (until you get to tornado type conditions) than sustained strong conditions, because the real danger at sea is from waves not wind. The waves don't build up in squalls and you can be safe by just dropping your sails.

Boats that get into trouble with squalls are those that don't reef proactively, that wait until the wind actually hits, and then it is often too late because the wind can come on very strong very quickly. There is a bit about that in an article I had published in 2001 Sail http://www.bethandevans.com/pdf/WhenReefing.pdf
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Old 26-01-2010, 05:51   #10
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Some squalls you can miss others are simply too big and you have to plan accordingly. With radar it's not that big a deal, we've raced through many with sustained winds of 80 or so. It is generally less expensive to have a good chunk of you sail plan put away prior to the arrival of the squall.

Hard to miss one like this. You're gonna get pasted, just be ready before it arrives.

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Old 28-01-2010, 22:47   #11
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Originally Posted by maxingout View Post
I never had much trouble with squalls on board Exit Only, our Privilege 39 catamaran. In fact, squalls were easy. 95% of the time we avoided them at sea by simply altering course.

Before I sailed offshore, I remember feeling terrified by the sight of line squalls rushing across the water. They gave me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. Once I got offshore, I simply took my sails down and motored on one engine whenever the line squalls came through. It takes less than a minute to drop the mainsail and roll up the genoa when there is really disturbed air bearing down on your yacht. Furling the sails instantly took all the guesswork out of squalls.

I found that radar was the single best tool that I had on board to evaluate thunderstorms and squalls. They show up nicely on radar, and I could plot their track and alter my course so that I rarely was exposed to their full force. I found the radar particularly helpful at night when sailing in unsettled weather. Being able to see the squalls in the darkness using radar is a great asset.

Squalls are much more of problem in areas with restricted maneuvering. I try to avoid those areas when squalls are present, and it generally works. I just have to be patient and sit quietly while the squall passes.

Having a catamaran with two engines makes squalls less of a big deal. A catamaran doesn't heel over when the squall hits. I also have the option of running one or two engine during the squall if I am in an area of restricted maneuvering. I have to admit that I would be much more nervous about squalls if my boat heeled over in the gusts, and if I had only one engine that might not work when I needed it.
Dave,

Super reply ... and super website! Much to read and learn. Many thanks.

shamrock838
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Old 28-01-2010, 22:49   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simes View Post
Hi Shamrock838,

As you seem to be looking for a reference tool of some sort, a book?

Possibly the very best is published by Adlard Coles and is "Heavy Weather Sailing"

Gives advice on preparation, organisation and survival of heavy weather in sailing, power and multihulls.

A truly excellent book.

Simes

Simes,

I checked out two editions at the local libraries. Much to read and learn. Thanks for the tip.

shamrock838
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Old 28-01-2010, 22:51   #13
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Originally Posted by Hud3 View Post
I don't know of any reference exclusively for dealing with squalls.

From my experience sailing in the tropics, where squalls can be common, I second Dave's advice. I'd add that when maneuvering to avoid a squall, try to stay away from the front side (the side on the direction in which the squall is moving). That's where the gusts are strongest due to downdrafts, and the chance of micro-bursts exists. The winds on the back side are usually light and variable.

If the squalls weren't too strong and gusty, we'd sail in front of them on purpose to get a lift, and to avoid the dead air behind the cell.
Hud,

thanks for your input and the links.

shamrock838
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Old 28-01-2010, 22:53   #14
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It does not exist.

I wrote an article in 2006 for cruising world on squalls, http://www.bethandevans.com/pdf/squalls.pdf, and did some research about prior material and there is not so much.

Squalls by definition are short duration. That tends to make them less dangerous (until you get to tornado type conditions) than sustained strong conditions, because the real danger at sea is from waves not wind. The waves don't build up in squalls and you can be safe by just dropping your sails.

Boats that get into trouble with squalls are those that don't reef proactively, that wait until the wind actually hits, and then it is often too late because the wind can come on very strong very quickly. There is a bit about that in an article I had published in 2001 Sail http://www.bethandevans.com/pdf/WhenReefing.pdf
Estarzinger,

Thanks for your input ... and especially the two .pdf's! First rate sources these. Much appreciated.

shamrock838
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Old 28-01-2010, 22:55   #15
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Originally Posted by Joli View Post
Some squalls you can miss others are simply too big and you have to plan accordingly. With radar it's not that big a deal, we've raced through many with sustained winds of 80 or so. It is generally less expensive to have a good chunk of you sail plan put away prior to the arrival of the squall.

Hard to miss one like this. You're gonna get pasted, just be ready before it arrives.

Joli,

Thanks for replying and especially the color radar capture. A picture really can speak volumes. Much appreciated.

shamrock838
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