Tornadoes and boats... - Page 2 - SailNet Community
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post #11 of 46 Old 06-07-2013
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Re: Tornadoes and boats...

I've experienced some high straight line winds at the dock during a nor' easter (it's amazing how much a dock line can stretch) but thankfully my only experience with tornadoes was one that passed well behind us off Rock Hall one evening back in '08. In hind sight we were far enough away that we weren't in real danger but it was pretty scary at the time.

I'm thinking XM weather with real time satellite radar might be a great tool in this kind of situation, allowing you to see the storm and its speed and direction over ground so you can make an informed decision.

I don't have radar on my boat so here's a dumb question. How much can you see approaching weather on your marine radar and could you make out something like a tornado or would it just look like an approaching thunderstorm?

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post #12 of 46 Old 06-07-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: Tornadoes and boats...

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Originally Posted by JimMcGee View Post
I've experienced some high straight line winds at the dock during a nor' easter (it's amazing how much a dock line can stretch) but thankfully my only experience with tornadoes was one that passed well behind us off Rock Hall one evening back in '08. In hind sight we were far enough away that we weren't in real danger but it was pretty scary at the time.

I'm thinking XM weather with real time satellite radar might be a great tool in this kind of situation, allowing you to see the storm and its speed and direction over ground so you can make an informed decision.

I don't have radar on my boat so here's a dumb question. How much can you see approaching weather on your marine radar and could you make out something like a tornado or would it just look like an approaching thunderstorm?
I think seeing weather with the radar is one of the top (not the top) reasoins to have it. Yes, you can see it but not like you are thinking. It shows up as lots of little dots on the return. We have literally been offshore and avoided storms via radar. Although the radar does show heavy returns on the bad storms (the snow becomes solid), it won't show tornadoes or such. I think it is just the rain showing the returns.

I have the garmin app that overlays weather. It is nice, but I don't think it will work offshore. I think it just works off the phone. I wouldn't know what to look for in as far as rotation anyways. Best thing to listen to is NOAA who puts the gawd awful alerts out and tells you where the rotation is, how fast it is moving, and in what direction (including when it will be at certain points).

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post #13 of 46 Old 06-07-2013
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Re: Tornadoes and boats...

Thanks Brian. a Garmin radar is on the long term list of upgrades when we finally start taking longer trips. Right now sailing on Barnegat Bay it's tough for me to justify the cost.

The same goes for XM weather. I love the way Garmin integrates it into the chart plotter but it's tough to justify for bay sailing.

95 Catalina 30 Island Time

ďThe sail, the play of its pulse so like our own lives: so thin and yet so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and impatient when least effective." - Henry David Thoreau
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post #14 of 46 Old 06-07-2013
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Re: Tornadoes and boats...

I think any sailboat would be knocked down to the shrouds in a tornado even as small as an F1. The force of the wind in a good thunderstorm (say 60 mph) vs. an F1 tornado (say 100 mph) is something like three times less. Unless you get hit by a frying pan, I think you would still do OK. My first choice would be if I know I have a storm shelter I can get to quickly, o/w I would stay on the boat.

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post #15 of 46 Old 06-07-2013
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Re: Tornadoes and boats...

I vote head for land and shelter. I would not want to be on a boat period with any large gale force winds. Tornadoes, water spouts, hurricanes or micro burst from a large thunderstorms are not to messed with in any fashion. Your discussion with your family was where do we think is the safest spot to be. The Three Little Pigs children story comes to mind. If you have the choice the house made of stone always win.
You were in a marina. So shelter might have been the best option as long as the shelter was not an outhouse made of sticks.
Boats don't do well in gale force winds. Things break, come loose, tear and not to mention the unknown factor. I know when I prepare for hurricane I do things different. Docklines get larger, double or triple up, Bimini comes down, sails pulled, other words everything topside gets cleared out. Down below everything gets secure.
Here is a video of what happens when a boat is capsize: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gqe1Sxa2GXo
Fifteen minutes is not enough time to prepare. I would seek shelter.

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post #16 of 46 Old 06-07-2013
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Re: Tornadoes and boats...

We had one that came in Northport which literary jumped over the Wednesday night race fleet (50 boats) and went in town and destroyed a dock were you would least expect it

IF it had of come down on the fleet I don't feel everyone would have made it as lifejacket use is marginal at best

The same year right down the block another one went into Oyster Bay on another race night and luck prevailed again

These are the only two I know of that did not happen mid sound ever

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post #17 of 46 Old 06-07-2013
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Re: Tornadoes and boats...

My thoughts (no data; no experience):

From a practical standpoint, tornadoes are so random and unpredictable that there probably isn't a right answer. Welcome to the lottery: run to a building, your boat survives; stay in the boat, the building survives. Obviously, a 'real' storm shelter is a different matter.

Theoretically, a big boat on a solid mooring should be ok (again, this is me just thinking*), but if the twister pulls off the rig, it might pull off the deck. My biggest fear in this situation would be that I could do everything right and the tornado could simply drop a truck on my boat.

Like I said, Welcome to the lottery.

Ken

*Which my wife has warned me about.
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post #18 of 46 Old 06-07-2013
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Re: Tornadoes and boats...

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I agree with Tim. At 28,000 pounds, your boat is not going to jump around too violently. I do think I read somewhere that more tornado injuries come from flying debris?
I wouldn't put money on that. Tornadoes have been know to lift a semi tractor trailer right off the ground & launch them into space. Some of the trucks this has happened to have weighed in at 80,000 pounds.

When it comes to stuff like this, it's just luck of the draw. There really is no safe place to hide.

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post #19 of 46 Old 06-07-2013
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Re: Tornadoes and boats...

Quote:
How much can you see approaching weather on your marine radar and could you make out something like a tornado or would it just look like an approaching thunderstorm?
"There's an app for that." Here in South Florida, the T.V. stations offer cell phone apps & weather alerts. WPLG has Max Mayfield, ex-director of the National Hurricane Center.

I don't know how good the resolution is on marine radar, but the local weather folk were
showing the rotational signature of the tornadoes near Marathon the other night. Looks
a bit like a Polynesian fishhook, counterclockwise rotation on the two I saw.

re: shelter: at least some of the restrooms in the Keys are built like concrete-block tanks,
with small or no windows - much safer than a boat *IF* you can get to it before the big wind
hits. I grew up down here, and have waited out some nasty weather in them.

Be safe. Have a conch fritter & beer for me.

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post #20 of 46 Old 06-07-2013
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Re: Tornadoes and boats...

Grew up in Tampa and saw several small tornadoes and a few water spouts closer than I would have liked. I think the Florida ones are definitely smaller than what they get out west, but they do still pose a real threat and can cause some serious damage.

Coming back from the Bahamas last year about 60 nm off St. Augustine we got caught in a very heavy line of storms that produced more than one sighted water spout off Jacksonville (our destination), we hove to once it was certain that we couldn't duck north or south to miss it. We went from nice sailing to pretty choppy 5-6 footers, zero visibility, and saw the highest wind of 58 kn (IIRC on the wind instrument so don't know how accurate). Surprising how much force there is in that wind. Fortunately it didn't last long and we suffered no damage.

I think I would prefer to be off the boat and in a low concrete structure if I could get to one safely, otherwise I think low is the way to get and a boat at the dock is pretty low.

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