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Old 09-08-2020, 13:38   #1
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Does anyone ever choose to weather storms offshore anymore?

Whilst I have great confidence in my anchor setup for storms (series lay with 20kg CQR, 6m 10mm chain, 20kg Vulcan, 40m 10mm chain, 2x40m 12mm 12 braid rode onto two very strong horn cleats) I have even greater confidence in my boat’s ability to weather a storm hove to at sea under storm sail and trysail (disclaimer I have only experienced 60kn at sea so my confidence may be misplaced).

Does anyone on this forum ever choose to leave a safe anchorage to weather a storm at sea and what are your experiences of this?

My sense is that not many make this choice anymore and this is a change from back in my youth when many would choose to weather a storm offshore. Why the change in practice if there has been one?
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Old 09-08-2020, 13:45   #2
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Re: Does anyone ever choose to weather storms offshore anymore?

20 years ago four police officers, in England, left a warm pub and went out in a gale...three died...
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Old 09-08-2020, 13:45   #3
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Re: Does anyone ever choose to weather storms offshore anymore?

Never. I prefer to hide in the equivalent of a swimming pool or small stream, surrounded by land on all sides with a decent size anchor.
Mostly because “why suffer?”
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Old 09-08-2020, 13:54   #4
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Re: Does anyone ever choose to weather storms offshore anymore?

Many people die in storms and hurricanes when their ground tackle or mooring fails, or the boat next door crashes into them, or the tin roof from this house onshore hits them.

There are risks to both courses of action. In the old days skippers felt the risks were lower offshore, today skippers feel the opposite.

Have our boats become less seaworthy? have we become less salty? has ground tackle improved?

Why do we seek bolt holes rather than sea room when nature lets fly these days?

I’m pretty confident that hove to and hatches battened Na Mara could survive pretty much anything nature could throw at her in the open ocean,. I’m less sure of that in a crowded anchorage. Am I just an idiot? A throw back to a bygone age? Or what?

P.s. of course it’s different if you are going ashore and leaving the boat to fend for herself. I am talking of staying aboard through the storm.
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Old 09-08-2020, 13:56   #5
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Re: Does anyone ever choose to weather storms offshore anymore?

The Navy. Large ships are safer at sea than tied to pier in a hurricane.
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Old 09-08-2020, 14:00   #6
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Re: Does anyone ever choose to weather storms offshore anymore?

Is the same not true of small well found ships also?
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Old 09-08-2020, 14:00   #7
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Re: Does anyone ever choose to weather storms offshore anymore?

A crowded anchorage wouldn't be my choice. But ground tackle and the ability to use large sizes of it has definitely improved. So with modern gear, given a suitable spot to hide out, you have options that earlier cruisers often didn't.
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Old 09-08-2020, 14:12   #8
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Re: Does anyone ever choose to weather storms offshore anymore?

I think in total the set of systems keeping you safe in an anchorage are way, way less complex then the set of things keeping you safe offshore.

In an anchorage youíve gotta float and stay put.

Out there, youíve gotta put effort into staying upright, keeping things in place, not getting pooped by big seas, I canít imagine why anyone other than a big ship would *choose* to be out in a serious storm.

Isnít the first rule of good seamanship Ďtry to avoid situations that require good seamanshipí? Maybe Iím just a big chicken.
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Old 09-08-2020, 14:18   #9
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Re: Does anyone ever choose to weather storms offshore anymore?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Na Mara View Post
Whilst I have great confidence in my anchor setup for storms (series lay with 20kg CQR, 6m 10mm chain, 20kg Vulcan, 40m 10mm chain, 2x40m 12mm 12 braid rode onto two very strong horn cleats) I have even greater confidence in my boat’s ability to weather a storm hove to at sea under storm sail and trysail (disclaimer I have only experienced 60kn at sea so my confidence may be misplaced).

Does anyone on this forum ever choose to leave a safe anchorage to weather a storm at sea and what are your experiences of this?

My sense is that not many make this choice anymore and this is a change from back in my youth when many would choose to weather a storm offshore. Why the change in practice if there has been one?
I wonder if this was a romanticized myth, that sailors would prefer go to sea in the face of an oncoming storm. Sounds like dreams of rugged manhood expressed to me. Boats and ships of old were not more seaworthy. That is also myth.

No I wouldn't do it in most scenarios. If a hurricane was coming strong enough to make the anchorage risky, I can hardly image that being at sea in it would be better. Waves can roll most cruising boats. Few boats survive that.

When much more moderate weather is coming and the anchorage location is not "bullet proof" I might, will certainly, shift to the lee of land for the expected breeze, and may even move during the storm if the wind shifts. Moderate storms, I said. There is little I enjoy more than being tucked in a sheltered position when the storm rages outside.

An exception, and Judy and I differ on this one: Our marina is subject to surge. Large swells rolling towards us from the ocean could wreck the docks and the boats tied to them. If a near miss from a hurricane was expected I might rather take my chances at sea, but I might be single handing.

Getting away from a pier in a navy ship might be a good plan, for a navy ship.
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Old 09-08-2020, 14:30   #10
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Re: Does anyone ever choose to weather storms offshore anymore?

Most Navy ships can make 20+ knots. They go out to sea to escape, not weather, the storm.
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Old 09-08-2020, 14:34   #11
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Re: Does anyone ever choose to weather storms offshore anymore?

Nobody out there with experience of just riding out a storm on a sea anchor or hove to?

My experience of heaving to is the boat essentially parks itself in drift mode. If you’ve got see room you can basically close all the hatches and sleep through the storm like this without any fear of something hitting you or you dragging. Your boat will literally just bob up and down on the huge rollers. Occasionally you get hit by one that breaks, but with self draining lockers, a smallish cockpit and the hatches all secure the boat will just shrug it off and go back to bobbing. Little to no input is required from skipper or crew.
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Old 09-08-2020, 14:45   #12
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Re: Does anyone ever choose to weather storms offshore anymore?

It's a trick question, Na Mara.

One time we left what had been a safe anchorage, during a small cyclone. The center did not go north of us, it came over us, and when the wind shifted, we were on what had become a lee shore.

It was necessary to leave what had become an unsafe anchorage, and as it happened, we could not motor successfully into the wind strength we had. (The anenometer was pegged, so know it was 80+.) As you know, the force goes up with the square of the velocity.

We actually motor-sailed out of there, using the storm jib and the engine, got sea room, and hove to for the night. It was really noisy! The storm was fast moving, and compact. By the time it had moved off, and the winds backed off to 45, it seemed quiet, because we had become accustomed to the roar of wind in the rigging.

************

I will comment, though, that I think it stands people in good stead to anchor in many different types of conditions and anchorages, and teach themselves to sleep through uncomfortable-but-not-dangerous conditions. We often go anchor where it is uncomfortable now, but with the predicted wind change, will become the safer place to be. Sometimes it means an anchor watch until the shift comes, and protection recurs. This practice also means that conditions get better during your sleeping, which works well for getting rest.

As for placement, we avoid little shallow hooks, may not be good holding there, and certainly want to be able to veer out more chain, and so, for years now, we've anchored further out in the anchorage than most, or further to one side than others.

Little story.... The Kiwis who go to Great Barrier Island are largely used to anchoring in stiff mud, in about 10 feet of water. We were chastised one Christmas holiday time, for anchoring out in 45 ft, same depth as another international cruising boat. But we wanted the space, and some of them didn't know 2:1 scope was, in our thinking, inadequate. Horses for courses, and all that.

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Old 09-08-2020, 14:49   #13
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Re: Does anyone ever choose to weather storms offshore anymore?

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Nobody out there with experience of just riding out a storm on a sea anchor or hove to?

My experience of heaving to is the boat essentially parks itself in drift mode. If youíve got see room you can basically close all the hatches and sleep through the storm like this without any fear of something hitting you or you dragging. Your boat will literally just bob up and down on the huge rollers. Occasionally you get hit by one that breaks, but with self draining lockers, a smallish cockpit and the hatches all secure the boat will just shrug it off and go back to bobbing.

Rollers, no problem. Breakers bigger problem, especially if it is the really big one, the 1 in 100,000 wave, that results in a knockdown, and possible dismasting. Rig in water smashing against hull. Vicious snap rolling without rig. No mast, you no longer are hove to, now your are just lying ahull, likely beam on, at the mercy of the waves, crew thrown about below and injured, major deck structure risks, dinghy/liferaft swept away.



Maybe I am chicken, but I'll take a hidey-hole if I can.
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Old 09-08-2020, 14:59   #14
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Re: Does anyone ever choose to weather storms offshore anymore?

That wave that rolls you is the major risk offshore. It wonít always result in a dismasting, particularly if you are hunkered down with as much mast support engaged as possible, but stuff will get broken thatís for sure.

As I sad, both choices carry risk, the question is why the shift in our assessment of them?
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Old 09-08-2020, 15:12   #15
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Re: Does anyone ever choose to weather storms offshore anymore?

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That wave that rolls you is the major risk offshore. It won’t always result in a dismasting, particularly if you are hunkered down with as much mast support engaged as possible, but stuff will get broken that’s for sure.

As I sad, both choices carry risk, the question is why the shift in our assessment of them?
My belief is that if you find the right spot inland (think a small pond or creek), you are subjected only to the wind. Not the seas.

Wind is no big deal until your anchor gear fails, but it typically doesn’t if you take anchoring seriously.

The wave action is what causes danger.

Finally, I can swim or walk away from a complete disaster worst case scenario (dragging onto the shore) in a small creek or pond.

I can’t walk away from a worst case scenario at sea. I’ll possibly die.

I find nothing safe about going out in 10-15 meter seas that may be breaking.
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