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Old 29-06-2013, 18:51   #1
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Squall Strategy?

In the movie, White Squall, there's a fair amount of discussion at the end about whether they should have headed into the wind (starboard) or fallen off (port). I doubt I will ever be skippering a Brigantine during a white squall but I am curious about the appropriate strategy for a sloop or cutter suddenly caught in 10-20 foot waves with 40-50kt winds.

I've googled it and found numerous answers; heave to, lower main and sail with only the jib, turn and run downwind, or lower all the sails and let the boat ride it out. What's best?
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Old 29-06-2013, 20:04   #2
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Re: Squall strategy?

Your strategy depends entirely on your boat, your proximity to land, and the ocean condition (10-20ft does not indicate if they're breaking or not), and the gear you have available onboard. Storm tactics are hard to debate like that since there are so many ways of dealing with it. Some people like the Pardey method of heaving-to under a parachute anchor, others like laying to a parachute directly, others like drogues and running from the weather. Some people have sleds that can do 20kts and dissipate the energy effectively that way without the need of drogues.

All methods of validity if they are effective in dissipating the energy and keeping the crew meeting their objectives. Cruisers may want comfort, and will choose heaving to. Racers may not want to give up those sea miles. So your tactics also depend on this secondary gain.
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Old 29-06-2013, 20:36   #3
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The idea behind a white squall is that it is supposed to occur without a visible storm cloud (mass), pack high winds and white caps. It is believed to be a myth by many but described on occasion as causing the sinking of some large vessels. So in the event they exist by their description then you are being overtaken by a fast storm without a chance to prepare. It takes time for waves to build from those winds so initially they shouldn't be excessive. Personally I would head down if I have sea room. It reduces the apparent wind and would allow a blanket of the jib in the shadow of the main to furl it under less load. Then head up to shorten my main. After that I'd batten down the hatches and ride it out.

As mentioned by the previous post different rigs may require different tactics and a lee shore would affect my response by forcing me to try to furl heading to wind. With a lee shore I'd also have to bring up the iron genny.
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Old 29-06-2013, 22:13   #4
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Re: Squall strategy?

Read this thread as it has just discueed all your questions.
The thread is still active

Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?
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Old 30-06-2013, 09:48   #5
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Re: Squall strategy?

Quote:
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Read this thread as it has just discueed all your questions.
The thread is still active

Thunderstorm While Coastal Cruising. What do you do?
Actually I've been reading the thread with interest all morning. 17 pages of posts is a lot to tread through - many interesting and helpful, some of the tit-for-tat, not so much. Hard to assimilate.

We don't get weather like they are describing out here. Might sound crazy, but are there sailing schools in Florida (or anywhere else for that matter) that offer heavy weather instruction during the season when weather is expected?
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Old 30-06-2013, 09:53   #6
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Re: Squall strategy?

Check with a local Yacht club to see if they hold any presentations/classes on heavy weather sailing. I know ours does from time to time from sailors with a lot of experience.
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Old 30-06-2013, 10:08   #7
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Re: Squall strategy?

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Check with a local Yacht club to see if they hold any presentations/classes on heavy weather sailing. I know ours does from time to time from sailors with a lot of experience.
Our club offers a class but talking about what to do if and when, vs actually implementing the techniques while experiencing the conditions are probably two very different things.
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Old 30-06-2013, 13:00   #8
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Re: Squall strategy?

Post #2 csmithers above mentioned some considerations but could add : the crew aboard and their level of fatigue ,the expected duration of the coming blow (long foretold,long last; short notice soon past).

I wish however someone that types and thinks faster than me will put to rest the total B.S. that Cruisers with 20 kt sleds might choose to run before any significant blow at that speed unless they discover a large experienced racing crew of stowaways just before the gale hits.
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Old 30-06-2013, 14:05   #9
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Re: Squall strategy?

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Originally Posted by OldFrog75 View Post
Our club offers a class but talking about what to do if and when, vs actually implementing the techniques while experiencing the conditions are probably two very different things.
IMO, what you need to do is find a like-minded crew, and go out there when it's blowing 20, and practice the things you've read about. For example, at the instigation of the skipper, we went out on stormy winter weekends to practice, and learn stuff like the answer to the question, "why won't she heave to under the storm jib?" [because the sheet lead was in the wrong place]

The simple fact is that while reading about it is likely to allow you to visualize the tactics, actually doing them and experiencing them in conjunction with your vessel is what you will learn from.

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Old 30-06-2013, 14:27   #10
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Re: Squall strategy?

Sometimes stuff just happens, a sand storm on the Baha coast of Mexico bangs into a 10 foot swell in the middle of the night. You alter course to let a large squall pass in front of you and then must deal with a water spout, a crystal clear day and the mid-level winds combine with the lower level wind and you get hit with a micro-burst/down draft/wind shear that is the sum of the two levels of wind.

I found that sometimes, all I could do was to keep trying different options until something worked.
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Old 30-06-2013, 15:16   #11
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Re: Squall strategy?

First time I've heard of a "white squall". In an "ordinary" squall offshore in the tropics a common tactic is to get the shampoo out and hope it keeps raining long enough for a good rinse.
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Old 30-06-2013, 15:27   #12
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Re: Squall strategy?

To the shower, we head for the squalls, lots of fresh water.

Once got caught by a squall that came from the beach to offshore completely unexpected, sunny day etc... we were in the middle of tying up to a rig, had one line up and had instant 45 knot winds, nothing to do but hang on and hope the bow thruster didn't overheat from the strain. The premise of the white squall is that it was undetectable until it was on top of them. In that situation, usually I would try to get everything down as quick as possible and put the head up into the seas/wind. It would be almost impossible to secure the deck if it were severe enough. Situations vary. Your results may vary. I personally like the sea anchor, battening down the hatches and read a good book.
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Old 30-06-2013, 16:28   #13
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IMO, what you need to do is find a like-minded crew, and go out there when it's blowing 20, and practice the things you've read about.
Ann
Very good advise....
You could even hire a local capt to take you out when its a blowing for an over night trip. This is a good sailing school for off shore passages.
http://www.bwss.com/
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Old 30-06-2013, 18:09   #14
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....will put to rest the total B.S. that Cruisers with 20 kt sleds might choose to run before any significant blow at that speed unless they discover a large experienced racing crew of stowaways just before the gale hits.
I am confused by your statement. While it is impossible to outrun a squall, one can dodge it. I do it frequently and did it again today!!!! One need not have a 20kt sled, just know how to sail well.

To clarify, today the squalls were coming out of the south pretty much from the south tip of FLA, up the Everglades and out the coast. Winds on the open water swung between SSE and S. To dodge the storms that popped up, I sailed a 45-90 heading. I never out run them, I just dodged them. Clearly this does not work for frontal storms, only "popcorn" thunderheads.
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Old 30-06-2013, 18:59   #15
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Re: Squall strategy?

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In an "ordinary" squall offshore in the tropics a common tactic is to get the shampoo out and hope it keeps raining long enough for a good rinse.
Amen. A squall, by definition, is localized. FORGET THE HOLLYWOOD VERSION!

Squaws can be your friends. Offshore racers often head into them to get the maximum lift possible. Some cruisers use them as a moment to replenish water and/or to clean off the salt.

My squall strategy is threefold: (1) reef down or at least dowse the spinnaker; (2) make sure that the boat is ready for lightning, which means the handheld GPS and VHF is in the microwave, which acts as our Faraday cage; (3) grab the Dr. Bronners.
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