I've always wondered about the concept of how you can use a catamaran's speed to escape bad weather.
Intense low pressure areas have a circulation that draws you in toward the center of the low. It would be unwise to run with a low and let it pull you into it's center. If you are racing
, then staying with a low on its favorable side will give you a boost toward the finish line. If you are cruising, staying with the low will give you many days of bad weather. You will be going fast in miserable conditions, and if you don't change your strategy, things won't get better anytime soon.
In cruising with a shorthanded crew, running with a low can get you into major strife. Lows have a mind of their own, and their center can deviate north or south very quickly. Sometimes the center of the low breaks up and reforms in another location. I have seen it happen both ways. (Check out historical storm tracks on the internet)
I would never purposefully run fast with an intense low.
Lows that are moving at 15 knots will travel 375 nautical miles in a day. If I hold position with a sea anchor
or slow down with a drogue
, the worst of the low will blow by me in about twenty-four hours. I stay away from lows, and if one of them is heading toward me, I deviate my course 90 degrees away from the predicted path, and in the direction of the non-dangerous semicircle if at all possible.
When I sailed across the Atlantic, and there were several intense lows and tropical storms to north, I took a southerly route
, and my plan was to head
south for the doldrums if anything headed my way. I had plenty of fuel
if there wasn't enough wind.
Even if I was on the fastest cruising cat in the world, I would still do my utmost to stay away from lows. The seas are always talking to you, telling you about the weather that's heading your way. You don't need to be a member
of the genius club to read the swells and wind shifts to be able to formulate a strategy that will keep you out of harms way.
If you have common sense, you don't need a fast cat to safely sail around the world. Fast is fun, fast is exciting, but sometimes fast isn't smart. If you are lucky enough to have a fast cat, count your blessings and enjoy the ride. But don't rely on high speeds to keep you safe. Only your brain with a good dose of common sense will tell you the best and safest speed for your cat. When all hell breaks lose, the time for speed is over, and its time to select a defensive posture that is appropriate for the design of your cat. For some multihulls it's a drogue, and for others it's a parachute sea anchor
If you rely only on high speed to protect you offshore
, and if you don't know how to use a parachute sea anchor
or drogue, you may get hurt.
I sum it up like this. I rely on the speed of my catamaran
to protect me offshore
. Sometimes I select a speed of zero knots, sometimes four knots, and sometimes ten knots. The conditions that I am in offshore determine the amount of speed I select. Once I decide on the speed, it's easy to know what I need to do. Deploy a parachute sea anchor
, put out a drogue, reef the sails or pile on more sail.
Fast is good, but fast won't keep you safe in a storm. Fast is only one component of storm management, one contingency that you can use in severe weather. Go fast when you can, when you are sure that it will put you in a better position. But even more important, know how to control your speed, because if you control your speed, you push the odds for survival in your favor, and you will probably be safe.