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Old 09-07-2016, 16:00   #16
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

Having cruised most of my life on Chesapeake, only thing to add is agree with stow all sails as you can get 60kt gusts easily in t storms. They pass quickly so even if no engine better to run ahull as waves won't really build up dangerously.

If you can find a western shore to hug then that's best- tuck in behind snore to your west and drop anchor. Sit below and pour a drink and wait it out.


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Old 09-07-2016, 16:02   #17
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Wink Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

FS Mike: I guess it is a question of how you define "navigable shoreline." I'm using it in terms of where you can build a dock to deep water. In other words, a navigable shoreline is shoreline where you have 6 feet of water(the standard for navigation) within 200 feet of land(I am talking about natural shoreline--not canals). In those terms, one county in Maryland--Anne Arundel--probably has more navigable shoreline than any single state in the country other than Maryland. You have to understand that it is an Annapolitan conceit.
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Old 09-07-2016, 16:30   #18
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

My experience is that the wind / rain may be annoying, but not fatal. The lightning, on the other hand. . .

Having taken a direct lightning hit in my sailing career, I can attest to it being something you don't want to experience.

Here's what we do: I have an 18" piece of 2" copper pipe, attached to a five foot length of battery charging cable. The cable has a big heavy duty spring loaded battery clip on one end. I attach that to the spinnaker pole ring on the mast and toss the pipe into the water, forward of the chainplates. It provides a relatively easy route to water-ground. That way if I get hit, we minimize the chances of current in the cabin.
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Old 09-07-2016, 17:28   #19
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

If you subscribe to WeatherTap.com Radar HD you can see the individual cells within a front, with a wealth of information (wind velocity, tendency to turn, water per square meter, where it wil be in 15 minutes, etc.) for each. I use it; my University, which sits in an exposed position 900 feet above the surrounding country side, uses it to decide when to lock down the campus via voice sirens. It is much more specific than anything you get from NOAA - it's the information NOAA uses to declare a tormado warning three minutes after you've been hit by one. It also shows waterspouts (marine tornadoes) which NOAA ignores. Well worth the $88/year.
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Old 10-07-2016, 07:47   #20
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

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It's the Chesapeake.

He doesn't have to worry so much about a rocky shore as much as very shallow water here and there as well as unlit buoys and channel markers quite a ways out in the bay.
Still, much better to ride it out in deep water than run up into mud or a channel marker, bridge, moored boat, etc. Plus waves will be steeper in shallow water. I don't understand why people are afraid of a little sea room. A well found boat is able to handle more than its crew can. Now, if there is a safe anchoring possibility, that is a different story.
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Old 10-07-2016, 08:14   #21
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

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Still, much better to ride it out in deep water than run up into mud or a channel marker, bridge, moored boat, etc. Plus waves will be steeper in shallow water. I don't understand why people are afraid of a little sea room. A well found boat is able to handle more than its crew can. Now, if there is a safe anchoring possibility, that is a different story.
Which is what I was saying was the problem with storms in the Chesapeake.

Not a lot of room to run, then you have all the obstacles along with the shallow water.....

If you are caught on the Eastern Side in the lower part of the bay in a storm with a heavy west wind you have no where to run for a 40-50 mile stretch.

If you are further South, you have two busy shipping channels along with the bridge (CBBT) and it's 4 "islands."

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Old 10-07-2016, 08:31   #22
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

We came up the Bay from south(Cape Lookout Bight) back in early May and as we were abreast of Mobjack bay we started to see two building Cells to the west. I use Sirrius XM Master Mariner weather($55/month) which gives full radar scan to the detail that tKeithlu (WeatherTap.com Radar HD) describes.

We hoped to outrun these cells and get into Dennis Point at the mouth of the Potomac but being late afternoon these cells bloomed into a solid menacing line moving NE-E VERY quickly. There was continuous "Dire, take cover immediately! " warnings coming from the VHF and also CEll Phone warnings.

Well, lightning was strobing everywhere, it was getting dark and the pre storm front winds were building, and we were not happy
We tried to beeline it back to Mobjack to get some shelter and avoid crabpots, fishtraps etc (which are the real navigating threat close to shore on the Bay as well as the rest of the stuff described above)
We got to the mouth of Mobjack and ran out of time ,daylight and all hell breaking loose and just dumped the anchor /a lot of chain/ and scrambled to hook up a bridal. Ran back inside under cover and crossed our fingers as the boat blew heavily sideways and thankfully, finally bit and steered nose to the wind. Then within the violence the boat swung upto 180-270 in arcs and we hoped for resets thru this... and it did.
I understand motoring/sailing thru these events and do that offshore obviously but in the CHE Bay I think anchoring is more prudent because of shipping traffic which marches on regardless of the above.
With the enhanced radar capability we were able to avoid the really bad stuff(Lightning etc) but not all of it.
If I have to do the above again I will forget about heading for a bay/creek etc and just make for a shallower area against the west shore and be hooked more timely before the **** hits.

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Old 10-07-2016, 09:17   #23
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

Yup- danger with bay storms is lightning which is why great if you ca anchor and get below. If not I would consider drift downwind of plenty of sea room- again to avoid standing by back stay holding onto metal wheel


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Old 10-07-2016, 09:23   #24
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

Radar is nice but inexact. I find thunderstorm forecasts so inaccurate as to be useless but that is in Florida. Your eyes are the best forecasting device. Thunder storms seldom hit out of a clear sky. When I see one coming I drop the sails and fire up the engine. I don't worry about lightning because if it elects to skip the mast there is nothing anybody can do. Squalls can be scary but you can minimize the risks by keeping your cool.
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Old 10-07-2016, 09:39   #25
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

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Radar is nice but inexact. I find thunderstorm forecasts so inaccurate as to be useless but that is in Florida. Your eyes are the best forecasting device. Thunder storms seldom hit out of a clear sky. When I see one coming I drop the sails and fire up the engine. I don't worry about lightning because if it elects to skip the mast there is nothing anybody can do. Squalls can be scary but you can minimize the risks by keeping your cool.
I disagree... I was able to match "Exactly" what was playing out on zoomed in, enhanced Sirius/XM radar and what I was seeing in the midst of it and GPS positioning on the XM radar shows this.
Lightning is THE biggest threat.

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Old 10-07-2016, 14:29   #26
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

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Which is what I was saying was the problem with storms in the Chesapeake.

Not a lot of room to run, then you have all the obstacles along with the shallow water.....

If you are caught on the Eastern Side in the lower part of the bay in a storm with a heavy west wind you have no where to run for a 40-50 mile stretch.

If you are further South, you have two busy shipping channels along with the bridge (CBBT) and it's 4 "islands."

CBBT Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel
OK, then in that circumstance what do you do? I think you are saying you run back to the marina, but I say that is more fraught with risk.
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Old 10-07-2016, 16:47   #27
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

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OK, then in that circumstance what do you do? I think you are saying you run back to the marina, but I say that is more fraught with risk.
A few years ago when I was in a thunderstorm on the bay, I heaved too, had a beer and it passed over.

It was off Onancock Creek on June 12, 2014. I graduated from Onancock High School if that helps you understand what I know about the Bay!

We could watch the tide and the storms while in Math and History class.....

The time after that, I ran South, then East, then West using nothing but eye site to avoid them. I was saiing back from Mobjack Bay to Little Creek

Another time, I decide to catch the winds just after the front passed (storms I encountered above). It was June 14, 2014. Problem was instead of the predicted 22 knot NW Winds they peaked out at around 28 knots for about 4 hours. It was a good ride and I sailed from Onancock to Kiptopeke very fast anchoring at Kiptopeke around 3pm.

This was as the wind was picking up:



Don't get confused with my turning around thread. Turning around in that storm was correct since it was the leading edge of a front, and it was strong. Temps went from the high 80's to low 60's for a few days after............winds peaking to 48 knots

Another time (this on Pensacola Beach/Pensacola Bay), my crew and I had to stop off before crossing Pensacola Bay after racing all day. A storm hit, and we headed for Gulf Breeze. Her (my crew's) boyfriend (military pilot) told us when he thought we could make it across the bay between storms. He was watching weather radar. This being probably June 2000.

We were on my Nacra 6.0 so we could sail fast 15-20 knots in the right wind double trapped. We took off when he said and made it across but not quite into Bayou Grande when we were hit by 30 knot gusts. We made it in anyway but got soaked!
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Old 10-07-2016, 17:07   #28
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

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The last time I was in a thunderstorm on the bay, I heaved too, had a beer and it passed over.

It was off Onancock Creek. I graduated from Onancock High School if that helps you understand what I know about the Bay!

We could watch the tide and the storms while in Math and History class.....

The time after that, I ran South, then East, then West using nothing but eye site to avoid them. I was saiing back from Mobjack Bay to Little Creek

Another time, I decide to catch the winds just after the front passed. It was June 14, 2014. Problem was instead of the predicted 22 knot winds they peaked out at around 28 for about 4 hours. It was a good ride and I sailed from Onancock to Kiptopeke very fast anchoring at Kiptopeke around 3pm.

This was as the wind was picking up:



Don't get confused with my turning around thread. Turning around in that storm was correct since it was the leading edge of a front, and it was strong. Temps went from the high 80's to low 60's for a few days after............winds peaking to 48 knots

Another time, my crew and I had to stop off before crossing Pensacola Bay after racing all day. A storm hit, and we headed for Gulf Breeze. Her (my crew's) boyfriend (military pilot) told us when he thought we could make it across the bay between storms. He was watching weather radar. This being probably June 2000.

We were on my Nacra 6.0 so we could sail fast 15-20 knots in the right wind double trapped. We took off when he said and made it across but not quite into Bayou Grande when we were hit by 30 knot gusts. We made it in anyway but got soaked!
OK, so I take it that you take action based on the particular circumstances at hand. I can agree with that.
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Old 10-07-2016, 20:16   #29
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

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As for staying away from shore, I can't think of any logical basis for that. maybe someone else can.

it depends.

if you can get to a dock and tie up, going to land is fine. but, far more sailboats are wrecked on hard, shore type surfaces than just founder in open water.

the idea is that water is safe for boats. it's their element. land is the danger.

if you have sea room you can heave to. if you are close to shore and have no port to run to, you can't heave to because you have no room.

if you have sea room, you can run before the storm under jib alone or bare poles and warps (if it's bad enough).

as has already been mentioned, there is always the threat of being dashed onto a lee shore.

places where the sea floor gets shallow, near shore, are places where waves will be worse.

for blue water sailors facing a storm, it can be safer going to sea than being stuck in an anchorage and dragged ashore.

of course, the bay isn't the ocean but, a lot of the same ideas apply.
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Old 10-07-2016, 20:17   #30
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

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My perspective is that sail boats handle better with appropriate sail up. Also keeps the option of sailing out of it if needed open.

My prefered tactic is to heave to an let squalls roll on over me (provided enough sea room). Squalls are usually moving pretty fast relative to a sail boat so they pass over quick. Running with it may actually prolong your time in high winds, though I sometimes do that too depending on circumstances.

Also good to read up on the life cycle of a squall (thunderstorm). One handy tid bit is that the strongest winds tend to come before the rain. Once you are in the rain phase/area of a squall then it probably won't get any worse (not always, but typically). So, its always a relief to me when it starts to rain.
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