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Old 10-07-2016, 21:21   #31
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

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Originally Posted by first wind View Post
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.
Yes you are right, the Bay isn't the Ocean...

And no you are wrong... a lot of the same ideas DON'T apply...

The Bay as described previously is a BIG (mostly) shallow body of water with a lot of commercial, private, gov't... you name it traffic usually moving thru in all directions, anchored, or drifting in all kinds of weather.

It is also full of ship channel buoys, bridges, private markers, lighthouses, beacons, fishtraps, crabpots, spoil areas, quickly shoaling shore mud depths, military targets... the list is endless and constantly changing.

When severe storms ,squalls , fronts etc roll thru and you have reduced or nil visibility and you are hugging the main ship channel as you really have no other choice(to try and avoid some or all of the **** listed above) ...especially at night then "a lot of the same ideas" DON'T apply.

Anchoring against the west shore if you can't make a bay, river, creek or dock somewhere is the best you can hope for when Severe (I don't know how big or how long this **** will last weather) catches you on the Bay.
This has been my experience and my guide for future Bay Storm encounters.
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Old 10-07-2016, 21:24   #32
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

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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.
that's some seriously good advice
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Old 10-07-2016, 21:34   #33
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

Strongest wind we ever saw in 6+ years of cruising was about 65 kn in a thunderstorm at the confluence of the Potomac and the Chesapeake 2 1/2 days into a three-day passage from Wrightsville Beach North Carolina to Annapolis. We took that squall the way we take every big summertime squall: double reef the main or reef the mizzen and leave out a scrap of jib, turn on the engine and slowly motor sail (with the engine turning about 1200 RPM) about 55 to 60 off the wind. When the sale flogs too much, fall off a little bit, and when the boat heals too much, pinch up a little. Just go back and forth, back and forth, treading water until the squall rolls by. In that one, when the wind dropped into the 40s, it felt like a pleasant afternoon on the water. Once the squall line passed, shake out the reefs and get back underway.

Happy sailing
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Old 11-07-2016, 10:01   #34
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

if you get caught with your pants down turn down wind this will cover your jib and also take some of the punch out of the wind here storms come on fast and leave fast. they can come from any direction and move across the water at 60+ mph. learned the hard way turned into the wind and lost both my sails in a matter of seconds. some times in the dark line of clouds there will be the fingers of death those are the killer down drafts.
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Old 11-07-2016, 10:14   #35
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

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if you get caught with your pants down turn down wind this will cover your jib and also take some of the punch out of the wind here storms come on fast and leave fast. they can come from any direction and move across the water at 60+ mph. learned the hard way turned into the wind and lost both my sails in a matter of seconds. some times in the dark line of clouds there will be the fingers of death those are the killer down drafts.
The problem is that sometimes in the bay you cannot run downwind due to water depth of 2'or less, a busy shipping channel, a bridge, a man-made island, a real Island, land, etc, etc
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Old 11-07-2016, 10:27   #36
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

deleted post - wrong thread
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Old 11-07-2016, 10:37   #37
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

I can't say anything specific about the Chesapeake, but dodging squalls is a way of life here. I personally prefer to leave some sail up; how much depends on the size of the squall and how much I think I can avoid it (below). Always get the engine on nonetheless, because if you happen to get hit (I have...), you probably will not be able to start the engine later. Then move perpendicular to the track of the squall, in which ever direction is the shortest to get away from it. Assuming you have room to maneuver, of course.

Basically, if you're well reefed and have the engine on, it's just a matter of riding it out for 30 minutes or so. Waves don't have time to build, so it's just the wind, rain, and (potentially) lightning. Nothing much you can do about the latter, but in the absence of heavy seas the others are completely manageable. Good luck! Pete
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Old 11-07-2016, 10:54   #38
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

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that's some seriously good advice
In an article that I read from an insurance study on death due to lightning strikes it was there opinion that changing your electrical potential just before or during an electrical storm would increase your chances of death by a strike!
As in deaths when anchor with all chain rode touched bottom ,outboard lowered into water,stepped from boat to shore,hand on wheel and backstay grabbed etc. many boats are struck but few deaths and the common LINK where death occured was the persons body bridged a connection so be careful about putting things in the water too late
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Old 11-07-2016, 18:35   #39
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

Jacksonville Fl gets some real violent thunderstorms almost like clockwork in the afternoons. One such storm actually had its lightening strike someone 20 miles away on a beach. The current theory is that lightening starts as leaders leaving the earth and then the return stroke downwards is what you see. Would hazard an uninformed guess that a sailboat that does not have much exposed metal in the water is less likely to get hit(i.e. internal ballast).
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Old 06-08-2016, 11:48   #40
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

Thanks for all your posts, great advice and not too conflicting! Here is a summary from preparation to powering through it:

Thunderstorm Strategy:
1. Ground your mast very well.

2. Use a smart phone to look at the local weather radar, you can time the front / cells... to within a few minutes. There are auto- alarms you can set-up on apps that will trigger an alarm on your phone, even if sleeping/ or 'sleeping at the switch' for wind alerts, lightning, small craft advisories. TV works too.

3. It's good idea (wherever you are sailing) to have a general sailing plan and 'what if' plans as you go hour by hour based on where you are on your path. Up here in Annapolis/ St Michaels area the Bay is only 4.5 mi wide and PLENTY of bailout rivers/ creeks, and safer yet coves to get into in an hour... so no reason to tough it out and expose family & friends to events that might change their view of sailing... at least with you!

4. Make sure I have enough time to get to an anchorage. Storms often happen earlier than predicted so I give myself lots of wiggle room. If it looks iffy, I stay put. I haven't gotten hit in years. I would always seem to get hit if I tried to push it.

5. What a squall looks like on radar depends on how you set the gain - do it right, and you see the rain area. Thunder storms show up well on radar. Not sure you can always see them coming when not in the open ocean though. On radar the squall line will look like a "line of squalls."

6. The signs of a storm coming--the Western sky gets black (or very close to it)

7. The average t-storm on the Chesapeake is about 30 min to an hour.

8. Get sea room (deep water) or head for shallower water and anchor, depending on time available and situation. Avoid obstructions just as the wind hits.

9. Usually involves a large wind shift. I would not heave to; wind directions often shift 90 or more in a squall line.

10.Turn the motor on.

11. Pull the sails down. Don't shred the sails for a few minutes of so called adventure .... It is over in a short while. if you really get totally surprised by an initial violent wind front, it can become dangerous to try to deal with sails at that point, and lessens your immediate options.

12. Power into the squall line. With sails secured, you have nothing to worry about. Relax.

13.Put on weather gear, send crew below. Stay away from the rigging and mast.

14. Put electronics in the oven if there's time.

15.Put in the hatch boards.

16.Let the AP steer!

17. Don't hold conductive items like the helm, and hope that it finds a different route. If hit, you are likely to lose your entire electronic system and maybe your electrics, as well, so some advise starting the engine before the squall arrives. Note that lightning hits have been recorded ten miles in front of the rain, which is when the flash and the boom are separated by 50 seconds.

18. 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.

19. The first thing to remember is that on a boat like yours it will be no big deal; the worst thing that can happen to you is getting your sails torn.
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Old 06-08-2016, 12:26   #41
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

your weather on vhf is automated. it will spit out what is coming. severe-71 kt winds extreme is 80-100. those operative words are important to learn.
each front has a descriptor. listen carefully and learn well. understand what it all means so you dont scare your white duck sailing pants brown.
and then there is local stuff. ha h ah a best of luck on that--then you need to pay attention so the skies and watch for a growing haze. once it is all around you you need to be in slip so you dont have a t-boomer on ye. or suckitup and learn heavier weather sailing.
isnt hard.
just pay attention.
the eye works better than radar as you recognise impending doom BEFORE it is able to be seen on radar ...
if you see approaching line squall, find shoal and anchor in the lee of it. if your water is deep enough, keep sailing. big boxy seas means not deep enough to actually sail and you are in deeper doo.....donot wait htis long.
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Old 06-08-2016, 12:59   #42
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

If you have internet access, there is no better source for what's going on within 50 miles of you than WeatherTap.com RadarHD+. It gives you the individual microbursts within a big red front, with details such as wind speed, predicted path, tendency to turn (becoming a waterspout or tornado), waterspouts (which NOAA does not report) water in the column, lightning strikes and the like. It's updated every four minutes. Those microbursts of straight-line wind can exceed 90 mph, and used to slam airliners onto runways before the FAA banned landing in thunderstorms. They can do the same thing to a boat. My University, sitting on a 900 ft bluff, uses it to know precisely when to lock down the campus, rather than waiting for NOAA to use the same data to issue a wide area warning. My county in Florida uses it for short range weather while the state supplies the wide area stuff. They'll give you a free trial (take it when there's a front approaching you) and charge $88 a year for a subscription.
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Old 06-08-2016, 14:10   #43
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Re: How to deal with T storms on the Chesapeake

By far, the simplest solution is to learn to get out of bed in the morning. They are rare before 4pm, and mid-day ones generally don't have much power, just rain.

Is there really a good reason to be in bed after the sun is up. No, there is not. If you didn't get moving until 11am, then you know who's fault the thunderstorm experience is.
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