We just made a similar trip last week... Key Largo to St Augustine
Experiencing one normal afternoon thunderstone off the cost of Cape Canaveral, and an unusual white squall off the coast of Rivera Beach.
The white squall off Rivera Beach was the most unexpected weather my buddy or I had ever encounter at sea. During that day we had a southeasterly to south wind, and blowing up the gulfstream 12 miles offshore, was fun and relaxing, with speed average around 7 kts.
It has just gotten dark, and ahead of us was what appeared to be “fog”. We could see and hear the thunderstorms along the coastline, but out 12 miles, we were in what appeared to be calm seas, with just a little LESS wind than we had had that day. As we approached this “fog” I had an uneasy feeling. (Call it, that little voice that is never wrong)
I pulled in the jib, started the diesel, and went forward to lower the main. As my buddy turned the boat in to the wind so I could lower the main, (lazy jacks) we entered the “fog”. The winds went from light 5 kts to 35 kts all at once. Thank God most of the mainsail as already down.
No rain, just high winds, from shifting directions and the seas jumped as was expected with the high winds. With the diesel running, we returned to our normal northerly course, and motored at 4 kts through the storm.
The next day along the coast of Cape Canaveral, just like you, NOAA, had forecast the afternoon thunderstorms along the shoreline, and forecast 1-2 foot seas with light 5-10 kts winds. I had seen the clouds building, and instead of tacking NE and NW to fallow the coastline 10-12 miles out (SE to S wind), I allowed us to stay on the NE heading to take us further offshore to avoid the thunderstorm. With the winds increasing our speed increased to over 8 kts, but this was not enough, and unfortunately the thunderstorms did not stop just offshore, and eventually caught up with us about 18 miles off the coast.
Since lowering the sails had worked the day before, we did the same and motored through this storm on a true north heading. The winds in this storm never hit 25 kts, and while it has a lot of rain, and the seas kicked up a bit, it was not near the problem as the white squall.
I like your idea of a storm jib, and in the feature, I’ll use it along with the diesel.