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Old 04-10-2012
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Re: Thunderstorm in Chesapeake Bay

Heavy weather drill... yeh, yeh, yeh. That is for sustained winds of predictable force. A TS is Russian Roulette. You have no idea what is coming, much of the time.

Maybe 30 knots and a few drops. Maybe 45 knots and heavy rain. Maybe 75 knots and baseball hail (I got a hole in a hatch from that one). No boat I've seen on the Bay has any business trying to stand up to 75 knots with any sail they would actually have up (anything that might work wouldn't move the boat). And what of the risk of blowing out or even badly stretching a sail? More than a few have a destroyed a good main or jib because they thought it seemed like a challenge, a seaman-like thing to do. Nonsense. They only last minutes, sometimes longer.

I've been sailing on the Bay for 30 years, both with and without an engine. The worst I've seen was the hail storm and I survived it, but learned something. Nature holds the cards.

I don't fear TS weather. But I am realistic and avoid all I can. If you think you have survived a bad squall with sail up, either you simply feathered and there was no point in having sail, or perhaps you've not really met the beast yet. If it's really black, the smart folks are under barepoles and getting sea room, the more the better. Any other plan is fun and games.

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None of which is to say you shouldn't learn to sail in a blow with varius combinations. Heck, engines fail. But a TS is a stupid classroom--there is only enough time to pass or fail, not enough to learn much.
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