What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake - Page 3 - SailNet Community
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post #21 of 45 Old 12-29-2013 Thread Starter
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

This is all really good stuff! You're right, my story is fiction only because it hasn't happened to me YET. I've been caught off guard on a motorcycle many times and I have a good plan for that. It's inevitable it'll happen on the boat sometime. Sorry about all the details, but a reply of "switch on your auxiliary radar, lengthen the painter on your dinghy, and set your autopilot for the Tortugas" wouldn't be relevant so I gave all sorts of details so we're all on the same page.

Good points about the Goose Pond, or being 100 yards from it when 40kt gusts hit.

Glad to hear lightning isn't the concern. As you were posting that, I was finishing Eric Sloane's weather book and he agrees. He put it this way - from on deck, a talk mast looks like an ideal lightning rod, but from a distance of 4000 feet up, it's not much of a difference.

I do have a shallow draft. With the keel down it's about 4 feet, but with it up its 18 inches. If things got real bad I could blast up onto some waterfront mansion's little man made "beach" with no damage other than knocking over their obligatory white adirondack chairs. Maybe they'd even come out and help me shove off when the weather improves.
justflie and captain jack like this.

Keep the expenses low and the good times high.

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post #22 of 45 Old 12-29-2013
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

You're right about Goose Pond being farther north - I didn't check the charts before posting. After looking at the chart he could quickly duck into at lest two areas near Tolly Point, though because of his very shallow draft. I've been caught in some nasty storms in Chesapeake Bay, some with winds over 50 MPH, but I have a lot more boat under me and wasn't too concerned.

Gary
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post #23 of 45 Old 12-29-2013
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

My concern would be the crab pots.
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post #24 of 45 Old 12-30-2013
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

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Call USCG Station Annapolis and tell them where you are, what you plan is, and ask for a radio schedule.
Really?
Sure. I did NOT say call for help - I suggested calling the local station and letting them know you're there. Health & welfare radio schedules are part of the USCG normal protocol.

Let's remember the scenario included a 21 ft trailer sailor with a tiny cuddy cabin with only a small outboard for propulsion. We lose people in small boats--sail and power--every year in Chesapeake Bay thunderstorms.

On my 40' 22k# cruiser I'd roll up the jib, reef the main, sit under the dodger, and close reach back and forth between the 25' lines until the storm passed. Totally different than a trailer sailor.

Now if I heard some guy on a radio sked from a little boat while I was out I'd probably head in that direction just to be handy, and to have something to do.

sail fast and eat well, dave
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post #25 of 45 Old 12-30-2013
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

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Sure. I did NOT say call for help - I suggested calling the local station and letting them know you're there. Health & welfare radio schedules are part of the USCG normal protocol.

Let's remember the scenario included a 21 ft trailer sailor with a tiny cuddy cabin with only a small outboard for propulsion. We lose people in small boats--sail and power--every year in Chesapeake Bay thunderstorms.

On my 40' 22k# cruiser I'd roll up the jib, reef the main, sit under the dodger, and close reach back and forth between the 25' lines until the storm passed. Totally different than a trailer sailor.

Now if I heard some guy on a radio sked from a little boat while I was out I'd probably head in that direction just to be handy, and to have something to do.
Seems a bit overkill to call the CG just because a thunderstorm is rolling in. They might have better things to do than field radio calls from hundreds of small crafts who observe a storm rolling in but are otherwise perfectly fine.

I'm sure far more people die on the Chesapeake (as do up here on Lake Champlain) from doing dumb stuff on a perfectly sunny day, than "go down" in a common thunderstorm.
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post #26 of 45 Old 12-30-2013
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

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...
Glad to hear lightning isn't the concern. As you were posting that, I was finishing Eric Sloane's weather book and he agrees. He put it this way - from on deck, a talk mast looks like an ideal lightning rod, but from a distance of 4000 feet up, it's not much of a difference.
...
I, for one, didn't mean to imply that lightning shouldn't be a concern, just that there's jack that you can do to prevent being hit. With the rest of the storm you can at least do some preparation to reduce the effects of rain and winds.

Donna


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post #27 of 45 Old 12-30-2013
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

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Seems a bit overkill to call the CG just because a thunderstorm is rolling in. They might have better things to do than field radio calls from hundreds of small crafts who observe a storm rolling in but are otherwise perfectly fine.

I'm sure far more people die on the Chesapeake (as do up here on Lake Champlain) from doing dumb stuff on a perfectly sunny day, than "go down" in a common thunderstorm.
Sure - do as you like. Thunderstorms on the Chesapeake can be tough on small boats, and that was the scenario.

The folks on the radio at station Annapolis and sector Baltimore don't actually have a whole lot else to do unless there is a Mayday. The sector radio room in particular is full of kids out of boot on their first tour. A radio sked in unpleasant to bad conditions is good practice for them, a huge morale boost for the boater, and a reasonable safety net.

I'm happy to call the CO at Sector Baltimore and ask what he thinks...

sail fast and eat well, dave
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post #28 of 45 Old 12-30-2013
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

Good advice - about the only thing I would add is to securely close/lock the lazarette latches. If you get a big, big puff and are knocked down, and if your boat is like mine (S2 7.9), it will sink like a stone if the lazarette opens and fills the space below with water. (An unlocked lazarette will fall open on its own as the boat heels way over.)
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post #29 of 45 Old 12-30-2013
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

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Good advice - about the only thing I would add is to securely close/lock the lazarette latches. If you get a big, big puff and are knocked down, and if your boat is like mine (S2 7.9), it will sink like a stone if the lazarette opens and fills the space below with water. (An unlocked lazarette will fall open on its own as the boat heels way over.)
On my list of things to do to the boat this winter: lazarette seals and a latching mechanism.
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S2 7.9 - Fast, Fun, and Beautiful!
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post #30 of 45 Old 12-30-2013
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Re: What would you do? Caught off guard by storm on the Chesapeake

It is amazing how quickly a T storm can close in on you, even keeping watch. I've encountered two that fit your scenario. One on the Barnegat with wife and two small children on board in a 22ft sloop. In that situation I had them go below and button up. They were already wearing PDFs. I got the sails down and deployed the anchor. Trying to maneuver in shallow water with crab pots all around is crazy frustrating. Knowing that this will be short lived, a good anchor and rode are your friends, so jettison those anchor lines and get a lot of the real thing. If you can get up close to the weather shore before it hits and anchor with all the line you have, then you will be safe, but be ready (bucket in hand) for the bucking bronco you are about to mount.
Also, if you stay in the cockpit as I did, figure out what you are going to hang onto that is not connected to the mast.
Last but not least your scenario really points out the value of situational awareness and being able to put together a plan on a moments notice.
John
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