I just completed a crossing from Galveston Bay to St. Andrews Bay (FL). We had a great time except for pop-up t-storms one afternoon and evening. The forecast
called for benign conditions and we were doing a lot of motoring but one afternoon large t-storms formed all around us; we were about 80 nm south of Mobile Bay. After the first batch hit us, the USCG issued a warning via VHF
(which I was surprised we received so far out) to which the three of us onboard said "no-crap". We had multiple batches of fury well into the night. The seas remained confused to about 04:00 the next day.
We had 35 knot
winds, lots of lightning
, and 6 - 8' waves with very short frequency. Some rogue waves seemed even bigger and the boat was getting tossed pretty good. I made the decision to motor
into the winds (which were from the north) as opposed to flying small amounts of sail. There were a few times where we were getting pushed back but we maintained good control with just 2000 rpm
. We had radar
showing the storms and oil
rigs (which were also lit) and we had plenty of sea room in all directions.
I had a close to full tank of fresh diesel
and new fuel filter
separator filter elements so I had decent confidence in my engine
despite the very rough conditions for my 35' Beneteau
My question relates to the opinion of others regarding whether or not running off in a bit of sail would have been a better approach. If the engine
died due to clogged fuel
filters (or another reason) I was ready to deploy a scrap of jib
and sail on. My boat heaves to but not real well and I didn't have a scrap of main out (in-mast furling) so I didn't view that as a good option. The storm came on so fast with surprising intensity that I didn't attempt to unfurl a bit of main to be in a position to heave-to. I somewhat feel this was a mistake.
We had on inflatables harness life jackets and were tethered to the cockpit
. Given the lightning
we had the ditch bag at the ready.
As this was my first Gulf crossing I'd very much appreciate the opinion of others regarding my tactics. We were fine but I can't help but wonder if I could have done better as skipper