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Old 02-07-2013, 05:01   #31
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Re: Squall strategy?

When we were down in Central America, most of the squalls were easily identifiable on radar at distances of 10-20 miles and had winds of 25-35 knots. We even dodged a water spout off of western Panama, although we couldn't see it on radar through the surrounding squall, it was plainly visible to the eye at 8-10 miles.

Even then, every now and then you would get smacked around and couldn't avoid the squalls, but they were relatively benign, compared to other wind events we had experienced.

Then we decided to sail back to the US, where we experienced our worst squall in 33 months of cruising. We were sailing into Charlotte Harbor, FL, at the end of a 460 nm trip from Cancun, Mexico.

We had just dosed the sails to motor through the entrance channel to Charlotte Harbor. As we approached the #1 channel marker a black wall of clouds came blowing of land. The radar lit up like a neon sign.

We decided to turn and run... Several minutes later we were run over like road kill, with winds of 45 knots, gusting to 62 knots for over 45 minutes. Wind waves built to 6-8 feet in quick order.

During this I looked at the Sirius Weather display and saw the largest cell I had ever seen displayed... Stupid me had not look before the squall, since I was approaching a "Safe Harbor". The squall covered an area from the east coast of Florida to the west coast.

While the squall past over us, we were motoring bare poled at 1200 rpms and making 8-9 knots over the ground.

After 45 minutes the winds subsided to 22 knots and I turned and ran for the harbor. The only damage was the American flag, which was shredded.

In hindsight, there was no way I could have sailed or motored into that wind... If I had sails up it would have been a nightmare.

Can you plan for something you don't see coming, with a very tired double-handed crew? I think at least in this situation we did the best we could and survived without damages...
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Old 02-07-2013, 06:46   #32
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Re: Squall strategy?

Uh oh. This buttresses some squall stories we've read here recently of that wild and wooly Fl west coast that I thought were exaggerated. I guess you have to experience it to believe. I've been lucky in the region to have not encountered that intensity for that length of time. And you in a big boat in what could have been a crowded channel with other boats far less able.

I think I recall Evans S. or Beth Leonard writing that they'd sailed around the world without encountering winds over 30 knots. We pays our money and takes our chances.
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:49   #33
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Re: Squall strategy?

A few decades ago, I was deck handing on a charter boat out of Cortez, FL, in the winter and once observed 9 different water spouts, around us. I asked the Captain, "What shall we do?", he replied, "hold still, we might run into one of them" Fortunately they fell apart before falling on us. It was a very interesting sight.
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:53   #34
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Re: Squall strategy?

My squall strategy has been to avoid them completely. This has proven to be very effective here on the California Coast.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:58   #35
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Re: Squall strategy?

The most important thing is to know your boat. What can it do? What can't it do?

I had one boat that would heave to with almost any sail configuration, just tack without touching the sheets, then try to tack back. it would just stop. ease the main sheet a little, and things suddenly become peaceful. This boat could not run downwind, anything over hull speed, and the rudder became ineffective. That is real scary when surfing down even a small wave.

So, for that particular boat, running is not an option. maybe it would work with a drogue, but I didn't have one (before Mr. Jordan). You need to know what the boat you are in will do, before you need to do it.

Going out in, 20knots and getting knocked flat is only worth while when you know what you are trying to achieve.
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Old 05-07-2013, 18:23   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maersi View Post
The most important thing is to know your boat. What can it do? What can't it do?

I had one boat that would heave to with almost any sail configuration, just tack without touching the sheets, then try to tack back. it would just stop. ease the main sheet a little, and things suddenly become peaceful. This boat could not run downwind, anything over hull speed, and the rudder became ineffective. That is real scary when surfing down even a small wave.

So, for that particular boat, running is not an option. maybe it would work with a drogue, but I didn't have one (before Mr. Jordan). You need to know what the boat you are in will do, before you need to do it.

Going out in, 20knots and getting knocked flat is only worth while when you know what you are trying to achieve.
So why do you lose rudder in increased speed down wind speed? Is your transom lifting and your rudder is lifted out of the water? Just trying to understand what characteristics lead to what challenges.
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Old 05-07-2013, 18:45   #37
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Re: Squall strategy?

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Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
When we were down in Central America, most of the squalls were easily identifiable on radar at distances of 10-20 miles and had winds of 25-35 knots. We even dodged a water spout off of western Panama, although we couldn't see it on radar through the surrounding squall, it was plainly visible to the eye at 8-10 miles.

Even then, every now and then you would get smacked around and couldn't avoid the squalls, but they were relatively benign, compared to other wind events we had experienced.

Then we decided to sail back to the US, where we experienced our worst squall in 33 months of cruising. We were sailing into Charlotte Harbor, FL, at the end of a 460 nm trip from Cancun, Mexico.

We had just dosed the sails to motor through the entrance channel to Charlotte Harbor. As we approached the #1 channel marker a black wall of clouds came blowing of land. The radar lit up like a neon sign.

We decided to turn and run... Several minutes later we were run over like road kill, with winds of 45 knots, gusting to 62 knots for over 45 minutes. Wind waves built to 6-8 feet in quick order.

During this I looked at the Sirius Weather display and saw the largest cell I had ever seen displayed... Stupid me had not look before the squall, since I was approaching a "Safe Harbor". The squall covered an area from the east coast of Florida to the west coast.

While the squall past over us, we were motoring bare poled at 1200 rpms and making 8-9 knots over the ground.

After 45 minutes the winds subsided to 22 knots and I turned and ran for the harbor. The only damage was the American flag, which was shredded.

In hindsight, there was no way I could have sailed or motored into that wind... If I had sails up it would have been a nightmare.

Can you plan for something you don't see coming, with a very tired double-handed crew? I think at least in this situation we did the best we could and survived without damages...

I'm so glad you posted that.

This hasn't been a wasted thread for me.

I have a bow-tender boat and an old Hood 810 roller furler that can't be reefed. Because of this thread it has caused me to focus on that important issue. Hood has made a replacement lower unit so it can be reefed. My headsail was actually designed to survive being partially deployed, and I am going to do it.

And some people here thought I was making those stories up ... Crow, served broiled or fried, at 10PM!
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Old 05-07-2013, 18:49   #38
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Re: Squall strategy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by captain58sailin View Post
A few decades ago, I was deck handing on a charter boat out of Cortez, FL, in the winter and once observed 9 different water spouts, around us. I asked the Captain, "What shall we do?", he replied, "hold still, we might run into one of them" Fortunately they fell apart before falling on us. It was a very interesting sight.

The one comforting thought about water spouts is that they rarely live very long at all. It was my understanding when I was younger that they just couldn't support the weight of the rain, but that might just have been speculation on someone's part. It's probably just as likely that they just weren't that strong to begin with and died the natural death of very weak tornadoes.
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Old 05-07-2013, 18:50   #39
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Re: Squall strategy?

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Originally Posted by maersi View Post
The most important thing is to know your boat. What can it do? What can't it do?

I had one boat that would heave to with almost any sail configuration, just tack without touching the sheets, then try to tack back. it would just stop. ease the main sheet a little, and things suddenly become peaceful. This boat could not run downwind, anything over hull speed, and the rudder became ineffective. That is real scary when surfing down even a small wave.

So, for that particular boat, running is not an option. maybe it would work with a drogue, but I didn't have one (before Mr. Jordan). You need to know what the boat you are in will do, before you need to do it.

Going out in, 20knots and getting knocked flat is only worth while when you know what you are trying to achieve.

I wouldn't put drogues out in those waters. Too shallow. It's time for the iron Jenny.
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Old 05-07-2013, 19:21   #40
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pirate Re: Squall strategy?

20kts.... would be putting a reef in the main of my 21ftr... if I still had one...
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Old 05-07-2013, 20:49   #41
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Re: Squall strategy?

Geez, please see post 32. As if you haven't!

I'm still boat shopping but I'm staying away from that West Coast of Fl. Too freaking dangerous.

I'd rather be rounding the horn.
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Old 05-07-2013, 22:55   #42
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Re: Squall strategy?

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So why do you lose rudder in increased speed down wind speed? Is your transom lifting and your rudder is lifted out of the water? Just trying to understand what characteristics lead to what challenges.
I can only guess that the boat was trying to plane, but the hull shape was causing the stern to lift before the bows. It happened to me twice. Once when entering a river after a storm. My slip was in the river, so not unfamiliar territory. I was coming in under engine after a storm - there was no wind and the waves were big enough for the needle to hit the end stop at 10.5 knots, this on a heavy boat, maybe 25ft on the waterline.

Second time I was sailing single handed downwind under full genoa (no pole). The day started with no wind, then picked up slowly. Boat speed also increased slowly, until it was too fast with a following sea. I needed to roll in some genoa but was unable to leave the wheel to get to the sheets. That was a wild ride for about 20 minutes, until a lull gave me time to roll in half the genny. Boat speed dropped by half of a knot, but it became controlable.

Obviously, the rudder was losing effectiveness, but can't be sure why. Being partially out of the water seems the most logical reason.

The boat was a Westerly Pentland CC Ketch, with twin keels and partial skeg.
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Old 06-07-2013, 09:31   #43
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Re: Squall strategy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by maersi View Post
I can only guess that the boat was trying to plane, but the hull shape was causing the stern to lift before the bows. It happened to me twice. Once when entering a river after a storm. My slip was in the river, so not unfamiliar territory. I was coming in under engine after a storm - there was no wind and the waves were big enough for the needle to hit the end stop at 10.5 knots, this on a heavy boat, maybe 25ft on the waterline.

Second time I was sailing single handed downwind under full genoa (no pole). The day started with no wind, then picked up slowly. Boat speed also increased slowly, until it was too fast with a following sea. I needed to roll in some genoa but was unable to leave the wheel to get to the sheets. That was a wild ride for about 20 minutes, until a lull gave me time to roll in half the genny. Boat speed dropped by half of a knot, but it became controlable.

Obviously, the rudder was losing effectiveness, but can't be sure why. Being partially out of the water seems the most logical reason.

The boat was a Westerly Pentland CC Ketch, with twin keels and partial skeg.
If the downwind flow of the water pressure on the rudder matches the forward speed of the boat then the rudder effectiveness is neutralized.
This is why it is unwise to use an autopilot in extreme following seas, the boat may broach before the autopilot can correct the boats direction..
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Old 06-07-2013, 10:06   #44
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Re: Squall strategy?

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(...) I am curious about the appropriate strategy for a sloop or cutter suddenly caught in 10-20 foot waves with 40-50kt winds. (...)
The waves: 10-20ft is nothing spectacular unless they break. And 10-20ft waves do not come out of nowhere. You had time to prepare/take action as they were gaining height (over hours, likely).

My policy - sail at an angle, avoid taking any large seas beam-on.

The wind: 40-50kts is some puff and if caught with too much canvas up, you must get out out of it or else you may lose a sail. Much depends on how much wind you had originally, outside of the squall area (hence how much sail you are carrying when the squall hits).

My policy:
- if sailing upwind: ease sheets, furl/reef,
- if sailing off the wind: bear off, (drop the kite, if any), furl the jib behind the main, run fasssst.*

*I think generally the tricky thing is that it is so difficult (to impossible, unless you have the right rig) to furl or reef the main downwind. Caught in a bad squall, I might actually turn her round rather than bear off and run - especially if I believed the squall might last too long, or be too strong, to safely run with it.

b.
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Old 06-07-2013, 10:43   #45
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Re: Squall strategy?

My heavy squall strategy is to try not to enter a heavy squall!.

I've found to many bad things inside of a heavy squalls, water spouts, micro burst, sudden wind shifts, localized wind waves, and other sailboats, tankers, etc.

Why deliberately operate your boat in reduced visibility?
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