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post #13 of Old 12-29-2013
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

I've sort of been there done that... Leaving Whitehall Bay in a J80... Was helping a friend take her son out sailing and was crewing for her. Lots of dark clouds moved in very fast and I said we need to get some sail down NOW. While I was pulling the main down the first gust hit us and heeled us over at least 50 degrees. Got the main down and tamed, fired up the outboard (which would go in and out of the water) and rolled up most of the jib. After that it was just a matter of motoring back across the Severn w/ a hint of jib to steady things.

For *most* Chesapeake squalls you're better off dropping your main, keeping a bit of jib out sheeted in tight and motoring into the waves at an angle. You don't want them hitting the boat beam on and you don't want to go straight into the waves. Close up the boat, put on your foulies and lifejacket. Stay in deep water if possible; it mitigates some of the worst of the wave action. Run off if you have to. They rarely last more than 30 min.

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