Over Hill Sailing Club
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Adirondacks NY
Thanked 108 Times in 105 Posts
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Re: Thunderstorm in Chesapeake Bay
If you sail on the Chesapeake you will sooner or later be exposed to a lightning storm. The advice already given is pretty much what I do.
The only thing I can add is to realize that you are not going to be outrunning any TS you can see on your sailboat. If its in sight, you'll just have time to reef or secure the sails and maybe get your foulies on before its on top of you. It can be tempting to try to make it through that narrow entrance channel to a safe harbor, but its more likely you will get caught in high gusty winds, near zero visiblity and high adreniln from the lightning striking around you at the worst possible time. Its much safer (on the Chesapeake) to weather a summer storm in an area where you have room to manuver in any direction the storm dictates. Its also very hard to tell if the storm is going to hit you, which is likely why there are so many tales of sailors waiting too late and getting spanked. Better to take the precautions while you can and if the storm misses you, great go back to what you were doing.
I just moved from HHS to Shipwright and wouldn't be too thrilled about being caught in a TS while in the "slot" running between HHS and HHN. There is a bit of room in there but not a whole lot. I'd rather wait out the storm somewhere further out and make the run in after it had passed.
One thing not mentioned, that I do at anchor is determine a "panic azimith" which is a safe intial direction to point the boat if you have to get going in a hurry in the dark or low visiblity like a heavy downpour. I write it down and leave it at the helm so I know a compass bearing to steer immediately. I also will keep a fender at the bow in case I need to leave the anchor quickly so I can secure the rode to a floating object to retrieve later. Lastly, there have been some achorages where I felt constrained enough to don foulies and sit through a TS in the cockpit with the engine running in case the shifts broke the anchor free.
Some great ideas! I always keep a 100% watch if there is a t.s. approaching. Having plenty of fenders out is a good idea because boats almost always slip anchors. I've had a number of "catches.
" Ski goggles work well because visibility in driving rain is often close to 0 and impossible without eye protection. I really like your "panic azimuth" idea and will start doing that.
Alberg 35: With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.